VB recently posted a delightful number on mushrooms. So delightful, I decided I had to grow some. I took a trip to the local Agricultural Co-operative (try finding one of those in St. Kilda. . .) who fortunately had a pile of them. I followed the instructions, placed the little farm on top of my hot water heater out of direct sunlight and watered and waited. And watered . . . and waited. After a time, much longer than that indicated on the instructional panel on the box (many weeks in fact), little pin head sized mushrooms began to appear. And get larger and larger and larger. (to be fair, it is winter and my laundry is a poor accomodation for Mycelium at this time of year.)
This morning my wife said she wanted mushrooms stuffed with fetta and olives and a side salad of baby spinach and pine nuts for dinner.
So tonight I plucked the first of the fruiting bodies to have raised their pale heads from the dank mouldy compost. Almost saucer sized, firm and dry and perfect. There is something almost erotic about plucking the caps out of the farm box, the pinky brown gills so fine, so delicate and untouched, nary a finger laid upon them. An allegedly wise old friend said mushrooms are best picked the day before "to forget the ground", but I think that was just a drunken rambling not to be taken seriously, he was probably thinking of Pomelo forgetting the tree. Bollocks! The faster a mushroom goes from paddock to plate the better!
I decided to serve the stuffed caps atop the mash of some Dutch Cream potato. These are a wonderful all round potato that make a mash of wonderful texture and flavour. Just a little butter, seasoning and a splash of milk to ease it into a coarse whip is all that is required.
Stuffed mushrooms with mash, caramelised carrot, blanched green beans and saffron sauce.
Some large mushrooms: one per person, stem removed with a sharp knife
30 gm fetta per shroom
8 decent black olives per person (in decent oil too, or don't bother!)
4 ts semi-dried thyme leaves
20 gm pancetta per shroom, sliced coarsely and crisped off in the oven for garnish
olive oil to bake
Pit the olives and chop them coarsley, shred the thyme, add them to the fetta and mash it all together with the tip of a robust fork. Season and spoon into the mushroom cap. Oil up a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven (180 C) for abot 20-25 minutes.
200 gm Dutch Cream potato per person, peeled chopped and well drained
milk and butter to finish.
I wouldn't dare tell anyone how to make mash. (If you can't make mash you shouldn't be near a kitchen anyway!) All I will say is invest in a decent set of biscuit cutters to form up the mash to serve.
1/2 eschalot finely sliced per person one carrot per person, peeled and juliened
six beans per person, topped, tailed and blanched for 60 seconds
Slowly sweat off eschalot in a good knob of butter, add carrot, sweat off further until sweet. Arrange beans in pairs, top with carrot and apply sauce.
Make about 700 ml of vegetable stock from sctratch. Reduce down to a thick, sweet, syrupy 150ml. Take off the heat. When the mushrooms are almost ready, add a decent pinch of saffron and let the edge of the flames lick the base of the sauce pan for long enough to colour up the sauce. Strain off the saffron and take off the heat. Slowly whisk in about 40gm unsalted butter.
I served mine like this:
Oh, I forgot to make a salad too. And I used the two smaller shrooms instead of on big one. Oops. Twas rather fine though. . .