October and November are peak mushroom season. I’ve foraged myself, in France and in the UK, on Hampstead Heath (now it’s illegal to forage there), where I picked oyster mushrooms from a fallen tree trunk. At home I cooked them simply with butter, white wine and garlic.
You have to be careful though. Even mushroom experts make mistakes. I only pick obvious ones like yellow chanterelles and ceps. To be on the safe side use a trusted supplier such as totallywilduk who will send you a box of foraged goodies.
Ideally you do not wash mushrooms, only wipe with a damp cloth or brush off the dirt. Cultivated mushrooms tends to be very clean and don’t need this.
Wild Mushroom Forest pie
This pie was originally created for my book V is for Vegan (Quadrille) but feel free to use non-vegan products.
- Pie pan, approximately 20 x 20cm
Either use 500g ready made shortcrust pastry or make the pastry:
- 500 g plain flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 150 ml olive oil, frozen for a couple of hours before using
- 50 ml iced water
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
For the mushroom filling:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 750 g wild mushrooms
- 100 ml double cream or soya cream
- 200 ml vermouth or white wine
- salt and pepper
- 12 stemmed mushrooms for decoration
- a little butter or vegan equivalent for brushing
- a little milk or vegan equivalent for glazing
For the pastry:
Put flour and salt into a large bowl, add the olive oil by the spoonful, cutting it into the flour until the dough appears 'pebbly'.
Mix the iced water with the vinegar and dribble it into the dough gradually until you have a soft ball.
Divide the dough into two balls and press them flat. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge.
For the filling:
Heat the olive oil for the filling in a frying pan, adding the shallots and the garlic. Sweat until soft.
Add the mushrooms, cream and vermouth or wine. Cook until thick. Season and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
To assemble the pie:
Roll out both discs of pastry to the thickness of a pound coin to fit the size of your pie pan.
Fit the bottom crust and pour in the cooled filling.
Cover with the top crust and pinch together to seal the sides. Trim any excess.
Make 5 slits in the top and poke the mushrooms into them (the holes help the steam escape). Brush the mushrooms with butter or vegan equivalent. Brush the top of the pie with milk or vegan equivalent.
Cover the pie with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 180C and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes, so that the top will turn golden.
Mushrooms on Toast
The breakfast of Kings. This isn't really a recipe but the simplest way to enjoy mushrooms.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 50 g butter
- mushrooms of your choice
- 2 tbsps creme fraiche
- salt and pepper
- squeeze of lemon juice
- chopped parsley
Using a frying pan, sauté the mushrooms in the oil and butter.
Once lightly golden, add the creme fraiche, salt and pepper.
Pour onto toast and eat immediately.
Add parsley and a squeeze of lemon if you wish.
Asian mushroom noodle broth
For this recipe, use Asian varieties such as enoki, brown beech or thinly sliced King Oyster mushrooms.
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- thumb ginger, peeled, crushed (I've taken also to buying small frozen blocks of ginger sold in the Asian section of supermarkets)
- 3 inch strip of Kombu seaweed
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 250 ml water
- 3 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
- fistful Asian mushrooms, lightly washed
- salt and pepper
- 150 g noodles, soba or other types
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- sprinkle toasted sesame seeds
Add the garlic, ginger, soy, seaweed and 250ml of water to a medium sized pot and bring to the boil. Then simmer for ten minutes.
In a frying pan, sauté the mushrooms with the oil, salt and pepper, then set aside,
Add the noodles to the broth until just cooked.
Prepare 4 bowls: add broth, noodles, some mushrooms, a sprinkling of spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve hot.
Mushrooms à la Grecque recipe
This recipe is a blast from the past, rather 70s, but you'll still find mushrooms Greek-style, slightly pickled, in 'traiteurs' or delicatessens in France. It's simple but every time I make it, I end up eating the whole pan by myself.
- 50 ml olive oil
- 400 g whole button mushrooms (any dirt brushed off (if larger, then slice))
- Juice of half a lemon (make sure no pips)
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Splash white wine (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds (heaped)
- 2 fresh sprigs of thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Ground white pepper (to taste)
- Heat the oil gently in a medium saucepan on a medium heat then, add the mushrooms.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for around ten minutes then serve or leave to cool and serve later.
- Can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.
There are two types here: 'toadstools' and chocolate meringue mushrooms. Decorate your Christmas log with them. This recipe comes from my book MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party which is available to buy in the shop section.
- Disposable piping bags
- Pastry brush
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch sea salt
- 120 g caster sugar
- dark red food colouring paste
- stick hard liquorice candy
- 100 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 110ºc.
Lay out as many baking sheets as you possess and line them with a silicone mat or baking parchment.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks.
Add the cream of tartar and salt.
Add the sugar slowly while continuing to whisk at high speed. It should look glossy and stiff.
Using a tall jug to hold your piping bag, scoop about half of the mixture into the bag. Cut the tip off the end, not too big.
If you want to make toadstools, put a quarter of the remaining meringue mixture into another bowl and mix with the food colouring.
Save the rest of the meringue mixture for sticking the stems and caps together and adding little white spots to the toadstools. Keep in an airtight container.
Pipe your mushrooms stems. Holding the piping bag directly over the baking sheet, with the tip close to the sheet, pip a cone shape (1.5cm x 2 or 3 cm height). You need about 20.
With a wet finger, slightly flatten the top of each one – you need it flat so that it fits onto the cap of the mushrooms. Some of the stems will fall over, so pipe extra. You want them straight and upright.
Pipe the cups. Pipe circular mounds about 5cm across and 2 cm high. Pipe about 20. Smooth the top of each one with a wet finger. Finely grate the liquorice on top of the caps.
For toadstools, using another piping bag, pipe the same size and number of caps (about 20), using the red meringue.
Bake the caps and stems for 45 minutes, making sure they don't go brown.
For the toadstools: make a teeny hot at the end of another piping bag, spoon in some of the leftover white meringue and pipe little white spots on top of the red caps. Then bake them for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate either in a bain-marie or in a microwave in 30 second bursts. using a pastry brush, paint the underside of the white mushroom caps with the melted chocolate. Then stick the stems on to the undersides of the caps and leave to dry. Handle with care.
For toadstools: use the leftover meringue mixture to stick the stems to the red dotted caps, cap side down, then place them back on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes until dry. Leave to cool.
Optional: instead of liquorice dust, dust, using a tea strainer, cocoa powder over the tops of the white mushrooms to give that speckled mushroom look.