Thursday, October 14, 2010

365 Days, Day 129

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly (M. F. K. Fisher)

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good (Alice May Brock)

It's the company, not the cooking, that makes a meal (Kirby Larson, Hattie Big Sky, 2006)

I am going to share some recipes with you. Seeing as the photo is of a mushroom (you’d never have guessed? I was on my Lily-walk in the forest today when I saw this half-dried neglected mushroom lying next to the path. It had to come home and be photographed – that was the end of Lily’s “heel” training because I needed my left hand to gingerly carry the fragile mushroom) - my recipes will be mushroom recipes.

Mushroom Soup.

This recipe can be prepared in 20 minutes.


* 25g butter

* 1 small onion, peeled and sliced

* 225g button mushrooms, washed and sliced

* 25g flour

* 600ml chicken stock (home-made if you have some in your deep freeze)

* 150ml milk

* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter and fry the onion until soft. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and then add the stock and milk gradually. Bring to the boil stirring all the time. Season well, cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley if liked.

Comfort food:

Jamie Oliver’s Grilled mushroom risotto

A mushroom risotto can be taken in many different ways, depending on what kind of mushrooms you have and whether they are introduced at the very beginning of cooking or just added at the end, as I’m going to do here. The inspiration for this recipe came when I was in Japan and saw mushrooms being cooked completely dry on a barbecue or griddle pan. This way of cooking brings out a really fresh and nutty flavour in them; perfect for being dressed lightly with olive oil, salt and lemon juice or stirred into a risotto at the last minute before serving.


  • 1.5 litres hot chicken stock
  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 150ml white wine
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large handfuls of wild mushrooms (try shiitake, girolle, chestnut or oyster – definitely no button mushrooms, please!), cleaned and sliced
  • a few sprigs of fresh chervil, tarragon or parsley, leaves picked and chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 25g butter
  • 2 nice handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • extra virgin olive oil

Heat your stock in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer. Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour in just enough hot stock to cover. Leave for a couple of minutes until they’ve softened. Fish them out of the stock and chop them, reserving the soaking liquid.

In a large pan, heat a glug of olive oil and add the onion and celery. Slowly fry without colouring them for at least 10 minutes, then turn the heat up and add the rice. Give it a stir. Stir in the vermouth or wine – it’ll smell fantastic! Keep stirring until the liquid has cooked into the rice. Now pour the porcini soaking liquid through a sieve into the pan and add the chopped porcini, a good pinch of salt and your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.

Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. This will take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, get a dry griddle pan hot and grill the wild mushrooms until soft. If your pan isn’t big enough, do this in batches. Put them into a bowl and add the chopped herbs, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Using your hands, get stuck in and toss everything together – this is going to be incredible!

Take the risotto off the heat and check the seasoning carefully. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan. You want it to be creamy and oozy in texture, so add a bit more stock if you think it needs it. Put a lid on and leave the risotto to relax for about 3 minutes.

Take your risotto and add a little more seasoning or Parmesan if you like. Serve a good dollop of risotto topped with some grilled dressed mushrooms, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Tom: guess what I’d like this weekend for a meal (besides sushi)?

My four paintings are almost finished – I have to ready myself to be brave enough to take them to the gallery once completed… And then I will start on a new series. Not sure of the theme yet. No, as beautiful as this little skirted mushroom is, it won’t be mushrooms. Although having said that…

Will keep you posted.

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