One of my best childhood memories was foraging for mushrooms with my Dad. Both field mushrooms and my father’s favourite, field blewitts, with their blue-lilac stems that we often found clumped together in ‘fairy rings’, used to be quite common in the pastureland and meadows of yesteryear. However, for me, nothing quite beat the excitement of finding pure white domes of edible goodness peaking out from under dew-laden grass, even if it meant the occasional slug finding it’s way inside my shoe! We even called our family cat “Gilly” because his fur was an unusual pinkish brown - almost the exact colour of the gills of a young mushroom.
Chemical spraying and loss of habitat has all but destroyed the opportunity to discover, cook and enjoy the more flavourful wild mushrooms and most people now rely on cultivated mushrooms found on supermarket shelves instead. I suppose there is some compensation for the less than mushroomy flavour of cultivated mushrooms insofar that, alongside the more common white or chestnut varieties, more exotic looking fungi, Oyster, Shitake, Enoki, Crimini, Portabello and Beech Mushrooms, are all readily available too.
To add more flavour to sauces and soups, you can reconstitute dried mushrooms by soaking or simmering them in water before adding them to your chosen dish. For Vegetarians, the umami deliciousness of mushrooms can help fill the savoury flavour gap of vegetables and other non-animal based foods. Mushrooms are also officially recognised as a Superfood. Hence I reasoned that the next two Primal Plate recipes should both be for mushrooms on toast!
To prepare, don’t peel or soak mushrooms. If you soak mushrooms they absorb the water like a sponge and will then turn mushy when cooked. A quick light rinse under the tap is okay but ideally, if they’re not too grubby, simply cut off the bottoms of the stems and wipe them clean with a damp paper towel. Many herbs work well with earthy flavour of mushrooms but I particularly like the grassy accent of anise (tarragon) and parsley.
Tangy Mushroom Crostini is first up. This is an elegant interpretation of mushrooms on toast, suitable for entertaining. Coming soon... Creamy Mushrooms on Toast is more down-to-earth and makes for a relaxed breakfast, light lunch or filling snack at anytime.
Tangy Mushroom Crostini (Makes 8) (V)
1-2 day old refrigerated Grain-Free Bread, cut into 8 thin slices (no more than ½ cm thick)
4 tbsp olive oil
15g (1 tbsp) organic butter
225g (2 cups) mushrooms, wiped. I used a selection of chopped chestnut mushrooms and exotic mushrooms, either chopped or hand-teared into individual fronds.
1 tbsp brandy
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
160ml (⅔ cups) crème fraiche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Pre-heat oven to 200℃ Gas Mark 6
Brush the bread slices on both sides with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Put the slices of on a baking sheet - actually, I prefer to use the wire rack of my oven grill to get lovely looking professional griddle stripes!
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Heat the remaining oil together with the butter in a large non-stick frying pan.
Cook the mushrooms for 4 minutes over a high heat until golden.
Add brandy and cook for a few seconds more. Remove from the heat.
Mix the mustard and crème fraiche together and stir into the mushrooms. Season well with salt and pepper.
Spoon the mushrooms onto the crostini and sprinkle with parsley
Carbohydrate 5g Protein 3g - per crostini