Kennett Square Mushroom Festival Cook Off - Winning Recipes!

I was elbow deep in fungi this past weekend…the tasty mushroom kind of fungi that is, at the Kennett Square, PA Mushroom Festival!  I had the honor of being a finalist at the Mushroom Appetizer Cook Off!  This is a great event at a huge festival that is always held the weekend after Labor Day.  In the spring they put out the call for original mushroom recipes (This year they switched from soup recipes to appetizer recipes.)  The recipes are tested and voted upon by the cook off committee and you get the call in late August if your recipe was chosen to be one of 6 finalists.  This was my fourth time competing and I was excited to see familiar faces and meet some new friends!       

I developed a recipe for mushroom nachos - "Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Bacon & Shallot Nachos."   I was thrilled to find out that two amazing friends had also gotten the call to be finalists.  Laurie Lufkin, from Essex, Massachusetts would be making her "Abbondanza Mushroom and Sausage Bites" and Nancy MacKenzie of Newtown Square would be making her "Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders."  Food, fun and friends are what cook offs are all about!  

We had an hour to prepare our dishes.  Mine took every last second of that time and I was sweating it out right to the end!  I probably should have developed a more simple recipe - it seemed so easy to make at home, but at a cook off there are a lot of variables out of your control.  There are power supply glitches.  Windy weather can affect the portable propane burners.  Your nerves can get the better of you and it's easy to drop, spill, burn and cut.  Also, there is the pressure of spectators watching and asking questions while you're cooking.  All part of the challenge which can get your adrenaline going!   

The recipes were tasted and judged by an experienced panel and Nancy's sliders took first place!  It was her first cook off and I was so happy for her!   My nachos came in second - which was great considering I came close to not finishing!  Once all our gear was packed away, we set off to enjoy the festival.  Our first stop was to the Woodside Farm Creamery truck for the best pumpkin ice cream!  Nothing like a cool creamy treat after sweating it out at the cook off!


  "We have how much time left?"  

Whew, finished!  That giant toaster oven sure didn't broil like my home oven.  Should have brought a kitchen torch for back up!  Is it time to taste one of those beers yet??

tasting - judging - tasting - judging - sip of beer

Congratulations Nancy on your first place win!  Bonus points for the mushroom apron and matching headband!!

First Place: Grilled Crimini Reuben Sliders

Can we go now Mom??  Pleeeeeease!

Cooking Friends: Lisa Keys, Brett Youmans, Laurie Lufkin

Our traditional post cook off ice cream lunch!!  YUM!

Winning Recipes: 

Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Bacon and Shallot Nachos: 

Cooking Tips: 

After the cook off, I had some extra ingredients left over so I decided to make another batch of nachos to share with the neighbors.  I discovered that the wonton wrapper triangles fry much flatter in a shallow amount of oil.  When developing the recipe and during the contest I used a deep amount of oil and some of the triangles would flip around in the oil and get curled up.  The only problem with the shallow frying is it's harder to get a good read on the temperature of the oil.  So, before I started frying, I tested with a small piece of wonton to make sure it would start bubbling quickly.  Then you just have to watch how they cook and adjust the heat.     

If your mushroom shallot mixture gets too dry and starts sticking to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water and stir.  

I put the lemon mayonnaise mixture into a zip bag, snipped a corner and used it to drizzle over the finished nachos.  Snip just a small hole in the bag so you can better control the amount.  You don't want a huge bite of the lemon mayonnaise, just a little taste accents the mushrooms wonderfully.  In my cook off hurry, I ended up with a big fat drizzle.

Recipe: Kennett Square Ultimate Mushroom, Shallot & Bacon Nachos

Second Place Winner, 2013 Kennett Square Mushroom Appetizer Cook Off

Christina Verrelli

Serves 4-6

Approx. 50 minutes to prepare

2 - 4 cups peanut oil (or other frying oil)

8 strips bacon, cut in ½ inch pieces

24-ounce crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced (halved if they are large)

12-ounces shallots, thinly sliced

1 ¼ teaspoons seasoning salt, divided

3 tablespoons marsala wine (dry)

¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped & divided

½ cup mayonnaise (I happened to use “light”)

1 lemon (1 teaspoon zest, 1 tablespoon juice)

20 wonton wrappers, cut in ½ on the diagonal (40 triangles)

2 cups fontina cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons chives, ½” pieces

Pour enough peanut oil in a large, deep skillet to make it 1/2 inch deep.  Heat oil over medium heat to 325 degrees F.

Cook bacon in a large sauté pan (approx. 12”).  Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate.  Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat.  Add mushrooms, shallots and 1 teaspoon seasoning salt to pan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.  Add marsala wine and stir to deglaze pan.  Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to caramelize, stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes.  Stir in reserved bacon about 5 minutes before  they are finished.

While mushroom mixture is cooking, stir together mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon seasoning salt in small bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Arrange a rack over a baking sheet (or line a baking sheet with paper towels).  Fry wonton triangles in small batches (about 6-8 at a time) for 45 seconds – 1 minute or until they are blistered and light tan in color.  Remove them to rack to drain.

Arrange top oven rack to about 5-6 inches below heating element.  Preheat broiler.

Arrange the wonton triangles on an oven-safe platter or baking tray.  (May alternatively arrange on 4 individual oven-safe platters.)  Arrange the mushroom mixture over the wonton triangles and sprinkle with the cheese.

Transfer the mayonnaise mixture to an empty squeeze bottle or a zip top bag (snip a corner when ready to squeeze out).

Broil nachos for about 50 seconds or until the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle the nachos with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and chives.

Drizzle the nachos with the mayonnaise mixture.

Serve hot & enjoy!!


-You can strain the oil and store it in the refrigerator to use several more times.

-I find pre-peeled shallots in 6-ounce bags at Wegmans – saves some time.

Previous Winning Recipes: 

On the left, "Stuffed Mushroom Florentine Soup"  First Place, 2010 Kennett Square Mushroom Soup Cook Off

On the right, "Shiitake, Ginger & Pork Pot Sticker Soup" First Place, 2012 Kennett Square Mushroom Soup Cook Off

For more Mushroom Cook Off winning recipes visit the Mushroom Festival website: 

Interested in Cooking Contests?  You can search online or check out the website Cooking Contest Central, a great resource for all things cooking contest related! 

Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me!  I hope you enjoy the recipes!  Tina ( :