Tag: ceps

Porcini Mushroom and Walnut Soup

This is an absolutely delicious soup. Ceps Boletus edulis and walnuts make perfect partners. It is also very quick and easy to make.

Ingredients
1 onion
500 grams fresh porcini (ceps)
1.25 litres of chicken stock
(or 2 organic Kallo chicken stock cubes
1.4 litres of water)
A handful of shelled, chopped walnuts
1 dessert spoon walnut oil
50g butter
1 dessert spoon flour
4-5 tablespoons cream
Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Makes 8 bowls

Directions
Clean the mushrooms by brushing and shaving off any dirt and wiping them over with kitchen paper. Chop them and leave to one side. Slice the onion finely.

Sauté the onion in half the butter, in a large saucepan, until it starts to soften. Add the porcini and sauté gently, adding the rest of the butter and the walnut oil. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Sauté for a further five minutes until the mushrooms start to soften too.

Sprinkle over the flour and mix in well with a wooden spoon then start to slowly add the warm stock, blending well with the spoon to prevent any lumps. Once all the stock is in, add the handful of walnuts. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Now adjust the seasoning and add the cream. Serve immediately or, if prepared in advance of the meal, reheat before serving.

When serving, put into warmed bowls, drizzle a touch of chilli oil on and add some grated or pared Parmesan curls.

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Giant porcini mushroom

One of my guests on Sunday’s Fabulous Fungi Walk spotted this huge penny bun. Also known as ceps or porcini Boletus edulis this monster mushroom weighed about 850 grams. Still very far off the recently found 3 kilo Polish porcini!

Often mushrooms this size are past their best, but this one had firm, fragrant flesh, was completely maggot-free. We ate half with my guests, fried gently in butter with salt, pepper, a little nutmeg and a dash of cream. Given their reaction I think they’ll all be foraging again soon!

The other half we had later for supper. Cooked in a similar way with the addition of a splash of white wine, more cream, reduced to a sauce and tossed with crumbled Parmesan into fresh penne pasta. Delicious!

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There are many wonderful ways to cook porcini as it lends it’s deep, earthy taste to many dishes. One of my favourites is fresh Porcini and Walnut Soup. When you find big ones, it is also worth making a Porcini Parma Lasagne. This also works well with common puffballs, birch or bay boletes and other large, firm fungi.

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The Mushrooms are Back!

Watching the tractors out mowing and baling in the fields fills me with dread, knowing that summer is drawing to a close and winter is on its way. So the appearance of the first mushrooms remind me that, in between is autumn with all its foodie delights! This Sunday morning was a treat. After a week (or two) of incessant rain, I woke up to a beautiful clear sunny morning, with just a hint of cool mist lying over the hill fields. I looked out of the window and there was only one thought in my head. Mushrooms!

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Porcini

I admit they have been on my mind for a week or two. Last weekend, walking in the Rumbling Gorge beech woods I could smell them. Tantalisingly I didn’t find a single one! But the woods smelled darkly, earthy, ‘mushroomy’ and I knew they were there. Little purple amethyst deceivers Laccaria amethystea lurking under the beech leaf humus. Many people don’t realise what amazing British mushrooms we have here, quietly getting on with life in the woods and fields. And many are edible mushrooms. Mushrooms are there all the time as they really live underground. They are made up of a wide spreading body called the mycelium which looks like thousands of tiny threads running through the soil. This mycelium is in the ground all year round and can live for decades. It spreads below the surface of the earth.

The mushrooms are the reproductive or fruiting bodies. They are often pushed up at stress points. E.g. If the mycelium reaches a road edge which prevents further underground expansion. Or if it has been very dry, then rains for a while. The mycelium then pushes up the mushroom. Under the mushroom caps are gills or pores. These can release millions of spores, which blow in the wind spreading mushroom “seeds” everywhere. This summer we have had several very dry months, followed by several unusually wet weeks in July and early August. My hope is that this will have given us the perfect mushroom season!

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Porcini

This morning I went down to some woods in Blairingone where I knew, from last year, that I could expect to find mushrooms. And there were certainly mushrooms there!

First, I found a young cep Boletus edulis also called porcini or penny bun. This cep alone made the morning worthwhile. It was unblemished. The flesh was white, close, firm and it had the most delicious smell. The cap had the typical bread bun finish and not a single slug or insect had had so much as a nibble.

These are one of the most delicious mushrooms you can find. Sliced thinly and fried for a few minutes in butter later that morning made the most perfect Sunday breakfast you can imagine.

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Chanterelles

Next I found some early chanterelles Cantharellus cibarius. They were hiding behind a dead gorse bush I remembered from a previous year. None were very big and only one or two were big enough to had developed their distinguishable wavy yellow edge. They were young and stubby. Nevertheless, the stems were thick, firm, nutty and peppery.

Near the beech leaf humus, in a spongy crop of moss, I also found a few purple amethyst deceivers Laccaria amethystea. They are such a pretty vivid velvet purple and one of the few mushrooms you can eat raw. Mixed with orange and yellow calendula petals they brighten up any salad! Then a few steps on, in a clearing between trees was a huge cep, alas too old and floppy to eat, next to a large but still passably firm bay bolete Boletus badius. Later on I chopped up the bolete (discarding the yellow-green pores as they were too spongy) and cooked it with the chanterelles and deceivers in butter, having added a spoonful of nasturtium seed capers from last autumn and a handful of chopped chives. Delicious!!

Lastly, I came across three lovely blushers Amanita rubescens. They are pinky-creamy white and have soft moveable scales on top. They have gills not pores. White, brittle, distinct gills. The stem is white going toward pinkish at the base. When bruised or cut they stain pink, hence the name the blusher. At the top of the stem is a white ring that falls down from the cap. On the upper surface you should find fine furrows texturing the surface. They also taste great! However, if you’re unsure how to identify these then don’t eat them – they have some nasty relatives! Oh, and peel them first to reduce the laxative effect!

Hedgehog fungus

Hedgehog fungus

Unsurprisingly, the only antidote to some mushroom poisoning is a herb. Specifically, milk thistle Carduus marianus. Various international research studies have found that milk thistle seeds contain a chemical constituent called silymarin. Silymarin has a protective, regenerative effect on the liver and protects the liver from the damage caused by various toxins, in particular the deadly liver toxins of the death cap mushroom Amanita phalloides. Milk thistle is currently popular among young Scottish binge drinkers who have discovered that a few milk thistle capsules the night before help you stay hangover free! Indeed, at Napiers it is one of the ingredients in our classic Hangover Hotchpotch.

I mention this only because it is useful for the serious mushroom forager to keep a stock of milk thistle tincture or capsules on hand. Prevention is better than poisoning. I always take great care when identifying new mushrooms I have found. But even then, a couple of milk thistle capsules before a mushroom feast always give me some extra peace of mind!

To see more of the British edible mushrooms I’ve eaten visit my Edible Mushrooms Pinterest board.