Mushroom mania

I have always been a lover of mushrooms, they come in a huge variety of varieties and each have their own distinct characteristics and flavours that can really give a big boost to almost any dish. Though their bodies mostly consist of water (hence the drastic shrinkage during cooking), many varieties contain lots of fibre and protein as well as minerals such as iron and potassium. Though the wilder mushroom varieties are said to contain far more robust flavours than the cultivated varieties, there’s quite a bit of choice for the average supermarket shopper. For a strong mushroom flavour in soups and broths, the use of dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms which have been rehydrated can give a boost, and supermarkets these days tend to stock everything from enoki to shiitake on their shelves.

The only thing to beware of with mushrooms is their delicate texture – overcooking will either make them make them horribly rubbery or render them completely textureless to the point of disintegration (neither being a desired result!). Be wary also that the size of your mushroom will also play a part in cooking time, the thinner/smaller you have chopped or sliced them, the shorter the cooking time will be!

I know that I’m due to blog that chocolate sauce, but since the lovely Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen gave me the chance to host Weekend Herb Blogging this week, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s posts to herbs and veggies in order to get my blog ‘in the mood‘ for it :) And what better way to start than with my new favourite mushroom dish! This was the first thing that I cooked out of my Marie Claire ‘Comfort‘ cookbook and I have to say that just this one recipe has made me glad that I decided to buy this book. It is rich and full of the earthy mushroomy flavour that I love, and when served on a slice of thickly sliced and toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg, makes for the perfect lunch or dinner!

It’s not exactly a quick recipe so if you’re looking for a 5 minute meal for dinner, this isn’t the one to choose. However, it IS one of the dishes that can be made beforehand and just zapped in the microwave before serving, and I find that the flavour is even better after an overnight stay in the fridge.

The round-up for Weekend Herb Blogging will be up on Sunday, so make sure that you’re entries are up before then :) You can email me the link to your entry (along with your name, blog name and the name of the recipe) to chipmunksneeze [at] hotmail [dot] com anytime from the 21st May till the 26th May!

Mushroom Ragout
(from Marie Claire ‘Comfort‘)

10g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 slices of bacon, finely chopped
500g mixed fresh mushrooms (such as Swiss brown, shiitake, morels and field, with the stems removed)
250mL red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp corn starch

To serve:
2 handfuls flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, roughly chopped
50g shaved pecorino cheese, or
4 poached eggs
4 thick slices of brioche or sourdough

1. Rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms with 250mL of boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, garlic and bacon and cook for 5 mins or till the onion is soft and transparent.

2. Thickly chop the fresh mushrooms and add them to the saucepan and sauté for a minute, then strain the rehydrated porcini mushrooms and add the liquid to the pan. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms then add them to the pan along with the wine, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or till the mushrooms have cooked and all the flavours are well combined.

3. Put the corn starch in a small bowl with 3 tbsp of water and stir till dissolved, then add to the pan and stir till the mixture has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Toast the brioche/sourdough and place some of the mushroom ragout on top, then either sprinkle some shaved pecorino on top or a hot poached egg and enjoy!

[tags]mushrooms, ragout, stew, easy meals, weekend herb blogging[/tags]

P.S. Thanks to all those who wished me luck with my studies :) I’m struggling to find time to do much other than hitting the books and am worried sick about my exams, so your well wishes were very very very much appreciated :) Aww, I love you guys!

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