Friday, 9 September 2011

The magic of Mushrooms

I have that memory, the one where I'm 7, in my pink wellies and Kylie Minogue t-shirt, and I'm with my dad in a field and we've 8 Arena bags filled with field mushrooms. It was late summer 1988 and the mushroom wealth was never to be repeated. We had grilled mushrooms with every meal, and boy did we savour them. But there was such a glut that year that my mam made mushroom ketchup, and I can still taste it's intense mushroomyness. She made about 30 bottles, and gave them out as gifts. We retained a few ourselves, and had them for a couple of years (they only got better) It was so concentrated and delicious and what I'd give to have a bottle in my press today. I will call on my mothers recipe if such a monster crop presents itself in the future.

I know there are people out there who are repulsed by the humble shroom, but for everyone else, I've outlined three tasty mushroom recipes that give the noble fungi the royal treatment it deserves. 

Mushroom soup

500g mushrooms, chopped 
(field are best, otherwise, try flat capped)

100g onions, chopped

I clove of garlic, crushed

1oz butter

1 oz flour

1 pint of chicken or veg stock

1 pint of milk 

sprig of fresh thyme (you know at this stage thyme is my 
favourite herb, but honestly, it's made for mushrooms)

1 bay leaf

squeeze of lemon 

salt & Pepper

Cream, fresh thyme leaves and truffle oil to garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy pan, and fry the garlic and onions on a low heat until translucent. Turn up the heat and add the mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep this stirred for a couple of minutes. (This gets rid of the raw flour flavour) Add in the milk and stock and keep stirring until thickened. You could adjust the ratio of milk to stock. I actually prefer no milk, and all stock, but it's a matter of preference. Blitz with a hand blender if you like a smooth finish. Season to your liking and drizzle with truffle oil, fresh thyme leaves and a little cream. This freezes very well.

Roasted courgette & Mushroom Risotto
Risotto is always something I thought was a painstaking task, but I actually love cooking it now, it's very therapeutic and pretty much foolproof. I cannot stress how fantastic the combo of the roasted courgettes was with the mushrooms. It totally worked. mmmmmm...think I'll do a Nigella on it and have some leftovers. 

4 courgettes, halved length ways, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

a few basil leaves

300g of wild mushroom mix 
(or dried porcini-follow packet instruction)

1 tablespoon of Olive oil

2 Oz butter

2 shallots, finely diced

300g arborio rice, rinsed

small glass of white wine

If Marco Pierre likes them, so do I
pint of veg stock (the knorr jelly stock cubes are in fact, perfect, I make stock occasionally, but life is too short)

3-4 tablespoons of decent Parmesan, grated.

Mushroom & Courgette was a surprisingly
fab combo.

First, put the courgette topped with oil, lemon juice, garlic and basil into a preheated oven (200 degrees C) bake for about 40 mins until soft

For the risotto, melt the butter in the heavy saucepan and add a splash of olive oil.  Gently saute the shallots until translucent. Turn up the heat, add in the rice and coat in the buttery shallots for a minute or two, until the rice is completely coated.  Add in the wine and KEEP stirring. (this is the therapeutic part) add in the stock, a ladle at a time, allowing it to absorb until adding the next ladle. Continue this until all the stock is used (add more water if needs be) The consistency should be creamy and the rice should be nicely andante. 

In a frying pan, heat a glug of olive oil and add the mushrooms when the pan is hot. Cook for four or five minutes until golden brown. Toss them into the risotto along with the Parmesan, chop the courgette and add these also. Season to your liking.

Stuffed Mushrooms 
with slow roasted tomatoes, basil, honey Goats cheese, wrapped in bacon.

I slow roasted some tomatoes during the week (70 degrees oven, 6 hours, garlic,olive oil, seasoning) and their seductive sweetness had to be celebrated with some of my favourite ingredients. These were awesome.

Layer slices of the slow roasted tomatoes into the mushroom, basil, and goats cheese and wrap with one slice of streaky bacon. Roast in a preheated oven (200 Degrees C) for about 20 minutes or until the bacon starts to crisp. Serve with a balsamic reduction and tossed baby salad.

Am, I think I've eaten my weight in mushrooms today. Good luck!

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