Mushrooming. . .

The Husband and I went to North Wales a week ago and when out for a walk, following an avenue of old beech trees, found Mushroom Gold – CEPS! You can see how big they were in relation to his hand. Next to truffles, they are considered the best of edible fungi – and I can definitely agree with that as they were eaten, simply fried in butter and served on toast to mop up the juices that night!

We’ve been eating a lot of mushrooms for a couple of weeks now as there is a field where The Husband goes fishing which is always full of them this time of year. We must have had pounds – sometimes, I feel I am drowning in mushroom soup which I have frozen in bags to eat through the winter.

There are so many different types (the one above on the back left is called a Charcoal Burner) – and indeed, along with the ones we found several would have made us ill. Please be careful when picking that you are taking home the good ones. I downloaded an app to my phone but I also double checked with a fungi book once home – and if ever in any doubt – don’t!

When you have collected them and brought home, if not using straight away, most fungi will keep in a refrigerator for a few days, provided they are collected young, dry and insect free.  Do not store them in a plastic bag. Wipe clean with a damp cloth but do not wash.

Mushroom and Tarragon Pate

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g field mushroom, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

Heat butter in a large frying pan. Add shallots, leek and garlic, then gently fry for 7 mins until softened. Increase the heat, add mushrooms, then cook for 10 mins, stirring, until the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are tender. Stir in the mustard and crème fraîche, then season well. Cook for a further 2 mins then stir in the chopped tarragon. Preheat the grill. Spoon the hot pâté on to toast, garnish with the extra tarragon, then serve with salad leaves.

Mushroom Stroganoff

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 -2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon English mustard
  • 120 – 150grams quartered mushrooms (this can be all chestnut or mixed mushrooms)
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 125 ml hot water
  • 1/2 pot crème fraiche or 1/2 pot sour cream (if you haven’t got either but you do have cream just add a little lemon juice and leave to stand a few minutes)

In a wide based pan, melt a little butter and oil and gently cook the onions and garlic.  Add the mushrooms and seasoning and cook without stirring until caramelized.  Add the stock, paprika and mustard and cook for another few minutes. (If it seems a little too liquidy, cook hard to reduce it.) OFF the heat, add the crème fraiche/cream and stir altogether.  Traditionally, this is served with boiled rice but I have also served this with linguine and other pasta types so this bit is up to your own creative genius! Sprinkle with parsley – and, for an extra layer of texture, quartered slices of fried bread (in butter, of course!)

Mushroom Soup

  • one small onion
  • one small potato
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic
  • 150 grams mushrooms (I use the stalks and 3/4 of mushrooms)
  • 500ml stock

Chop the onion, potato and garlic and fry gently in some butter. Add the stalks and mushrooms and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potato is soft. Using a stick blender, whizz up to smooth soup. Return to the heat and add remaining chopped mushrooms and milk/cream/creme fraiche to the consistency you want. Serve in warm bowls with chopped parsley.

PS As we have had access to so many, I have discovered how to dry them to toss in winter stews, risottos and soups.

Slice mushrooms into roughly the same size and place them on a baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper. Put in an oven at 150oC for one hour. Take out and blot with kitchen towel and return for another hour. If ready, they should not be soft and should snap. Store in an airtight jar.

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