Sunday, October 3, 2010

autumn goodness

we ventured out on a sunday morning walk with friends and we hit the jackpot mushroom-wise. the forest was full of mushrooms of all kinds (you can see them here), but the most interesting were the rabarbar parasolhat (macrolepiota rachodes - known as the shaggy parasol in english)and the krystal-støvbold (lycoperdon perlatum - known as the common puffball in english). they were the most interesting because they were ones we could have for lunch.

i adore the idea of found food. something free provided by nature on a walk in the woods. there's just nothing more appealing than that, is there? but i am a cautious mushroomer. i grew up hunting morels and i know them well, but they are a spring mushroom and i don't really know my autumn mushrooms. therefore, i always go hunting with a knowledgeable friend. i've also invested in a good mushroom book and always compare carefully to it before frying up anything i bring home.

rabarbar parasolhat (macrolepiota rachodes - or the shaggy parasol)

krystal-støvbold (lycoperdon perlatum - or the common puffball)

the puffballs are very small, so we prepared them very simply. they were carefully cleaned and halved or quartered, depending on their size. then they were gently fried in butter with just a titch of garlic, salt and pepper. they have a gorgeous, earthy, mushroomy flavor and too much garlic quickly overpowers it. they should be fried 'til they have a crispy, golden crust but are still soft and gorgeous on the inside.

the shaggy parasols were cleaned and sliced and gently fried up in equal parts butter and olive oil. they can tolerate more garlic, so we used two good, fat cloves. once they were softened, we added a bit of cream. you could add some herbs - thyme would be nice - if you had them on hand, but the creamy, garlicky goodness is perfect on its own on a slice of ordinary toast with a glass of white wine.

mushroom tart
the mushroom theme continued last weekend when we visited family in sweden. my sister-in-law is a fantastic cook and i always get inspired when i'm at her table. this time was no exception. she made an absolutely gorgeous mushroom tart. the secret to it is grating the mushrooms. this seems to free their earthy goodness in a way i hadn't imagined possible. i had to make the tart myself this week, even tho' i had just eaten it on saturday. it was so good, i couldn't stop thinking about it. i used store-bought mushrooms, since my mushrooming friend wasn't around.

mushroom tart ala sinna

crust - you can make your favorite piecrust, or, like me, buy some frozen puff pastry (butterdej) and line a tart pan, then prebake it for 15-20 minutes.

1 leek, sliced and rinsed well
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
500 grams of mushrooms (i mixed portabellos and ordinary brown champignon)
250 grams organic creme fraiche (or sour cream)
chopped fresh herbs of your choice (thyme, parsley, sage)

soften the leek and garlic together in a pan with a big lump of butter and a glug of olive oil

in the meantime, grate two large packages of mushrooms - i used one package ordinary brown mushrooms (champignon) and one package of portabellos i suppose it's about 500 grams of mushrooms. grating the mushrooms is absolutely key. 

sauté the mushrooms together with the leeks - adding more butter/olive oil if necessary. add a glug of white wine, simmer until the liquid cooks away and the mixture is quite dry again.

throw in some chopped fresh herbs along the way if you have some (thyme, parsley, sage come to mind).

once the liquid has cooked off the mushroom mixture, stir in a cup of organic creme fraiche (or sour cream). then pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust and bake it another 20+ minutes in a 180°C (375°F) oven - until golden brown on top.

serve with a simple green salad and a crisp, cold south african chenin blanc.

and don't worry about leftovers, there won't be any.

* * *
i wasn't going to mention my long absence from this blog, but am feeling i must. since our move in may, i've been so depressed by my awful, old (pink!) kitchen, that i haven't felt inspired by cooking. that's not to say that i haven't been cooking, i have, i just haven't felt inspired. i'll write a separate post, sharing the horror of my kitchen with you very soon. i think it's been mildly depressing to move from my beautiful kitchen at the old house to this old, ugly and uninspiring space here at the new house. of course, i know it's temporary, but building projects take time, so i have to live with it for awhile now.  but anyway, that's why i haven't been here much. i'll try to remedy that.


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