Fungi

RAGOUT OF CEPS WITH GARLIC AND PARSLEY

Serves 4
500g ceps
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 spring onions, finely chopped
salt and pepper
plenty of flat-leaf parsley

  • Trim any soil or adhering leaves from the base of the stalks. If ceps are the large, summer variety (like the one above), discard the spongy underside of the caps, which goes soggy when you cook them
  • Slice the cep caps and stalks fairly thinly
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and soften the garlic and spring onions gently till translucent but not browned
  • Add the sliced ceps, season with salt and pepper and cover the pan
  • Cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes or until juices run
  • Uncover pan, raise the heat and cook hard, stirring, till juices evaporate and concentrate
  • Scatter flat-leaf parsley on top and serve

WARM SALAD WITH WILD MUSHROOMS

It’s good if you can find a nice assortment of wild mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles, yellow or grey, horns of plenty, hedgehog fungus, shitake, ceps etc.) for this lovely salad, served over mixed salad leaves. Otherwise make up the weight with cultivated mushrooms. The hazelnuts and the lardons are optional, but provide a nice bit of crunch.

Serves 6-8
optional: a handful of hazelnuts
OR 100g lardons
a selection of mixed salad leaves (frisée, lamb’s lettuce, rocket etc.)
200ml vinaigrette (salt, pepper, mustard, 150ml oil, 50ml vinegar)
500-600g assorted wild mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp Melfor or Balsamic vinegar + a little extra for sprinkling
optional: chives, and nasturtium or borage flowers to garnish

  • If using hazelnuts, toast them first: heat the oven to 200ºC, put the nuts in a small tin and toast/roast them for about 10 minutes – be careful, they burn easily
  • Rub and blow away any husks that will come away easily, chop them roughly and reserve
  • If using lardons, fry them gently without extra fat till golden and crispy and drain on paper towels
  • Toss the salad in the vinaigrette and arrange it in soup bowls
  • Clean the mushrooms, rinse briefly in cold water and spin briefly in a salad spinner
  • Slice or quarter them depending on size
  • At the last minute, fry the shallot and garlic gently in hot oil for 4-5 minutes without allowing them to brown, add the mushrooms and cook a further 5 minutes or so – they will make a lot of juice
  • Raise the heat and cook till the juices evaporate
  • Add 2 tbsp of vinegar and cook down hard till reduced
  • Scatter a selection of mushrooms on top of the salads
  • Garnish with chives, edible flowers and toasted hazelnuts or lardons and sprinkle with a few drops of vinegar
horns of plenty, Craterellus cornucopiodes by Sue Style

horns of plenty (Craterellus cornucopiodes), good for a bread pudding

BREAD PUDDING WITH WILD MUSHROOMS
Serves 4
300g day-old country bread with crusts, cut in big cubes (as for fondue)
4 eggs
400ml milk
200ml whipping cream
salt and pepper
1 tsp Dijon or coarse-grain mustard
25g butter + 1 tbsp oil
1 shallot or 2 spring onions, finely chopped
about 500g mixed wild mushrooms (include some trompettes de la mort above if possible) and cultivated mushrooms, sliced
plenty of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives)
2 tbsp grated cheese

  • Put the bread cubes in a large bowl Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper and mustard and pour it over the bread
  • Mix together and leave for a bit while you prepare the mushrooms, so the bread absorbs the liquid
  • Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots/spring onions till softened
  • Add trimmed, sliced mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste
  • Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat till the juices run
  • Remove lid, raise the heat and cook hard to evaporate the juices, stir in the herbs
  • Lightly butter a deep ovenproof dish, spoon a layer of soaked bread into the bottom, add the mushrooms and finish with the rest of the soaked bread.
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese. (The pudding can be prepared ahead up to this point and refrigerated.)
  • Heat the oven to 200oC Bake the pudding for 45 minutes-1 hour or until golden brown, nicely puffed up and set
  • Serve with salad

 

HUITLACOCHE

huitlacoche (Ustilago maydis) by Sue Style

huitlacoche (Ustilago maydis) aka corn smut, growing on corn

Huitlacoche is a remarkable fungus that grows all over the world wherever corn (maize) is grown. For most people – especially the farmers who grow the corn/maize – it’s just a sinister, messy-looking excrescence that colonises their corn cobs. Mexicans know better. For centuries they have treasured huitlacoche for its unique, earthy, inky flavour and slightly crunchy texture. They cook it up with onion, garlic, chile and epazote (Mexican wormseed) and then use it to fill crepes or tortillas, or layer it with pasta, or serve it as a counterpoint to white fish or chicken breasts.

I thought my huitlacoche days were over once we moved back to Europe from Mexico.  Imagine my delight when I found this wonderful corn fungus growing here on the maize in Alsace. Here’s how to deal with fresh huitlacoche if you’re lucky enough to spot some smut in your neck of the woods…

huitlacoche and corn tortillas by Sue StyleMakes a filling enough for 4-6 tortillas or crepes, or as an accompaniment
3-4 fresh huitlacoches (to give about 500g when pared off cobs)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1-2 spring onions
otpional: 1 fresh green chile, de-seeded and chopped finely
salt and pepper
3-4 Tbsp crème fraîche
optional: epazote, finely chopped

  • Slice the huitlacoche off the corn cobs to which it’s attached – some corn kernels may come away too, which is all to the good.
  • Remove any stray threads of corn silk and chop the fungus roughly
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan and soften the crushed garlic, chopped onions and chile (if used) over moderate heat without allowing them to take colour
  • Add to huitlacoche to the pan, with salt and pepper to taste (it will take quite a bit of salt)
  • Cook briskly for 5-6 minutes or until the huitlacoche begins to release some of its juices and turns from silvery-grey to a blackish hue
  • Stir in the cream and (optional) epazote and cook a few minutes more until thick

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