Tag: Mushroom

Winter Chanterelle mushrooms

The last week of October. It’s dark by 6, there’s a chill in the air, and the trees are wearing their full autumn colours. The wild mushroom season is drawing to a close… or is it?

Look closely among the fallen leaves, for a mushroom that is almost perfectly camouflaged. The Winter Chanterelle or Yellowfoot (Craterellus tubaeformis).


It’s easy to identify with its dull brown cap, pale grey hymenium (the bit underneath!) of false gills that extend down the yellow stem. You’ll find it under spruce, pine and beech.

It’s as tasty as the Common Chanterelle with a stronger and more peppery flavour, and less fruitiness. It also lends itself to drying unlike its summer counterpart. It’s robust enough to handle itself well in a soup or a stew as well as the classics: toast, omelettes and creamy garlicky pasta. Pair with wood sorrel, one of the last of the winter greens.


Porcini Parma Lasagne

This is a delicious dish that’s easy to make using most kinds of mushrooms, particularly porcini (ceps), oyster mushrooms, chicken of the woods, and any other firm textured fungi. I’ve put both carnivore and vegetarian options.

1 pack fresh lasagne sheets
3-4 large porcini
1 pack Parma ham/pancetta
or 1 small bunch of asparagus
1 wedge Parmesan cheese
50g butter
50g flour
500ml milk
Salt, black pepper, pink pepper, bay leaf and ground nutmeg.

Put spices in milk, bring to boil then remove from gas and leave to infuse for 10 minutes while you thinly slice your porcini.

Grate your Parmesan ideally in a mill or food processor.

Melt butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add flour to make a paste then slowly add the milk stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add half the Parmesan and check it is well seasoned. You should end up with a medium thick béchamel sauce. I particularly like the addition of a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg and black pepper.

Put some béchamel in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then sheets of lasagne, then béchamel, then a layer of porcini, salt and pepper, followed by a layer of Parma ham or split, trimmed asparagus (or both!), a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, then another layer of béchamel, another layer of lasagne sheets and so on.

Once you reach the top of your dish finish with a layer of béchamel, then sprinkle with Parmesan and dot on some slices of butter.

Put in a medium hot oven (190C) for half an hour until cooked through and brown on the top.

Serve with a wild rocket, watercress and sorrel salad or other late wild edible greens. For salad dressing mix olive oil with some elderberry balsamic vinegar infused with a clove of crushed garlic.

Serves 6-8

The following pictures are of a hen of the woods lasagne with streaky pancetta bacon and Parmesan.

For extra umami add one layer of pre soaked dulse seaweed!



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.

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

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.


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!


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.



Field mushrooms by the pailful

When our local farmer told me there were field mushrooms “by the pail’fer in the files next to the sheep” he wasn’t joking! This was a lucky meeting a the following day I was doing a wild food demonstration at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and expecting a few hundred people to want a taste. We didn’t have a pail but we did have an ancient shopping basket.


These were exceptional sautéed over a medium heat in butter with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. And I did add a splash of red wine towards the end. Eaten with olive bread to mop up the juices. Absolutely delicious!


Turkey Tail mushrooms – Trametes versicolor

Turkey tail mushrooms are found growing on logs, especially fallen beech, throughout the world and certainly here in Scotland. Their rather obvious name is due to them looking literally like the colourful tails of a male turkey. They can be dried and then the powder boiled in water to make a medicinal tea. Wonderful for supporting the immune system.

Of interest is the US FDA investment of $5.2 million in clinical trials using the polysaccharide PSK extracted from turkey tail fungi to treat cancer patients alongside their conventional treatment. The trial runs until 2014 and it will be interesting to see if scientific evidence will back up its use in traditional herbal medicine.

Turkey Tails - Trametes versicolor


Stump puffballs – Lycoperdon pyriforme

Stump puffballs are edible and best when gathered young as they have a firm texture, exquisite smell but mild taste, and not as good as field puffballs. But they are very prolific and make a good meal if cooked carefully.

Stump puffballs

Before you pick them, cut one open to check its maturity. When young, they have a firm white flesh but if they are old, the area near the top will have turned yellowish and they will become spongey. This is from the formation of powdery spores which are eventually puffed out through an opening in the top. Once a puffball has reached this stage it loses all taste and texture. Best sautéed and added to a dish. See below.

Stump puffballs

Cut each puffball in half and discard any old ones. Sauté gently in good quality olive oil. Once they start to soften, turn the heat right down and add a good slosh of sherry, lots of salt and pepper and a splash of soy sauce. Leave to sweat on a very low heat. Beat three eggs together with a splash of milk. More salt and pepper and pour them over the puffballs. Quickly grate Parmesan cheese over the pan and then stir in as the eggs start to set. Delicious!

Stump puffballs

Chanterelles – Cantharellus cibarius

Exquisite flavour, slightly fruity and slightly peppery, this is one of the most popular of the edible mushrooms. Most foragers have a secret patch that they visit and the secret is well-guarded! This one is the most common in fusion restaurants who add fungi to the menu.


Mushroom breakfast

Gently fried in butter with some chopped chives, salt and pepper and garnished with chive flowers. This is mixture of chanterelles and hedgehog fungi. Before… and After!

Wild mushrooms

Wild mushrooms

Chanterelles, and their cousin the Hedgehog Fungi, with chive flowers

Hedgehog fungus – Hydnum repandum

Luckily for foragers, hedgehog fungus is far less well-known that it’s cousin the chanterelle. It is easily identified by its spines or teeth under the cap which look vary different to gills or sponge. It has a great texture and nutty, slightly peppery taste and the young ones are exceptional! I have a favourite spot where there is a huge patch spreading over about twenty metres but I’m not telling! They make an amazing wild fungus risotto.

Hedgehog fungus

Fungi Risotto Recipie
Sauté the mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper and put to one side. In a saucepan, fry two large shallots in olive oil and then add half a pack of arborio risotto rice. Lightly fry the rice for a few minutes then add a little water. As the water is absorbed, keep adding a little more.

Finely grate the zest off two lemons into the pan. Juice the lemons and add the juice. Chop the stems of asparagus and broccoli sprouts, add but keep the flower tips until later. Keep stirring and adding a little more water each time.

Once the rice is just turning al dente, add the asparagus tips, broccoli florets and some diced baby courgettes. Cook for another three minutes. Add a glass of white wine, more salt and pepper (to taste) and then stir in the mushrooms including the liquid from the mushrooms. Warm thought until the rice has fully absorbed the extra liquid. Then serve up and watch it get polished off!