Tag Archives: Foreging

FRICASSE DE SETAS CON ANCHOAS (Spanish, Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee)

Easter and Anzac day in Victoria are good times to collect wild mushrooms.

I am amazed at how popular slippery jacks and the saffron coloured mushrooms have become over the last few years. I have seen them in greengrocers and a number of stalls at the market and they are certainly appearing on many restaurant menus.

photo

I was at a restaurant in Bendigo a couple of days ago and their special was a plate of ‘Tagliolini with wild mushrooms’ (Photo above).

There is a recipe for a pasta sauce using wild mushrooms already in the blog: WILD MUSHROOMS – Saffron Coloured, Pine Mushrooms and Slippery Jacks – it is worth referring to this recipe again for the photos (so that you will recognize them if you go foreging) and the recipe for a very flavourful sauce that contains many more ingredients than the one in Bendigo (the rest of the food and the wine list at this restaurant were great!)

Another favourite recipe for cooking wild mushrooms when I have them is one that has anchovies. On some occasions I have used field mushrooms (photo below) and/or other cultivated mushrooms: a mixture of Oyster mushrooms and Shimeji (grown in the Blue Mountains in NSW) and brown mushrooms.

Field musrooms

Look at any of the recipes of how mushrooms are cooked in any Mediterranean country and you will find very little variation: they are sautéed in oil with garlic or onion and deglazed with a little white wine. In Spain sherry is frequently used instead of wine. Sometimes a splash of lemon juice is used or there may be different herbs; in French recipes butter might replace the oil and perhaps the sauce is finished off with some cream.

This is the recipe that gave me ideas about using anchovies; I found it in The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega: Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas (Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee). And this is how I cooked my latest batch of mushrooms recently and this is what the finished dish looked like:

Mushrooms & eggs 1

I selected a very large heavy based frying pan and very high heat to start with. I began with only a handful of mushrooms at a time to limit moisture, I wanted the mushrooms to sauté rather than be boiled in their own juices. I stirred the mushrooms continuously to prevent burning and encourage them to caramelize.

I only added about ¼ cup of stock and cooked the mushrooms for about 7-10 minutes on medium heat (definitely not 25 mins) and in the whole time of cooking did not use a lid.

I added a squeeze of lemon juice before I took them to the table – it went well because of the anchovies. They tasted great. I am not saying that the recipe for Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee as it is in the book would not work, but merely that we all have our way of personalizing recipes.

The recipe from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ¼ pounds porcini or other wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
12 canned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 cup stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a flameproof earthenware casserole or a large skillet or frying pan, add the mushrooms and pan-fry over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies and garlic in a large mortar and crush them to a paste.
Stir the stock and the contents of the mortar into the mushrooms and season with pepper. Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley into the pan, re-cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, either in a serving dish or on small plates.

Also see: FUNGHI AL FUNGHETTO

WILD MUSHROOMS – Saffron Coloured, Pine Mushrooms and Slippery Jacks

 

Pine mushrooms

Foraging is a buzz activity lately (in Melbourne) and foraging for wild mushrooms has increasingly become very popular. In the last two years the frequency of groups that are conducting wild mushroom hunts have increased significantly and so too have the number of cooking classes or special menus in restaurants and wineries; Mornington Peninsula in Victoria seems to be where wild mushrooms are found in large quantities.

Pine mushroom haul

Unfortunately for me, this may mean finding less wild mushrooms for myself, but over the years I have been extremely spoilt with the number of wild mushroom feasts I have had. During my latest foraging experience a couple of weeks ago my partner and I collected as much as we wanted of saffron coloured, pine mushrooms( photos above of the bag full and a small selection). We also could have collected slippery jacks but chose not to – we much prefer the taste and texture of the saffron coloured, pine mushrooms. If the slippery jacks are picked young and there has not been rain, they are firm and compact and very pleasant to eat.

 Photo = Slippery jacks

 

I was speaking to a friend who had attended a class on wild mushrooms recently and she showed me photos of two other edible fungi – unfortunately I am not familiar with these as I am always open to new tastes. Like many others who had tasted the slippery jacks, my friend was saying that she finds this variety rather mushy and slimy to eat. I used to collect the slippery jacks in South Australia and dried them (I moved to Melbourne about 10 years ago). This is very easily done: wipe them dry, cut them into slices, spread them out on wooden trays lined with paper and old tea towels and leave them to dry in a warm room. Turn them over a couple of times. They stored well and were certainly very edible; I used them as I would if they were dry porcini – not as strong in taste but certainly worth eating.

The only problem with collecting the saffron coloured, pine mushrooms is that they bruise very easily and they really need to be cleaned and cooked as soon as possible.

I turned this lot of saffron coloured, pine mushrooms into a pasta sauce (saffron coloured, pine mushrooms = First photo).  If you do not collect your own you can buy them in The Queen Victoria Market at the Fresh Generation, for $40+ per kilo. I have also seen slippery jacks on the odd occasion at Gus and Carmel’s stall (61-63) .

INGREDIENTS
500 g of mushrooms are sufficient for 500 g of pasta and in my household it is sufficient for 6 people as a (primo) first course
garlic, 2 -3 cloves
parsley, ½ cup finely chopped,
white wine,½ cup or dry marsala,
fresh bay leaves and some marjoram  to taste
a good quality stock cube or about ½ cup of concentrated broth
grated nutmeg, a pinch
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste,
tomato paste, 1 tablespoon (optional)
cream or butter, ½ cup at the end of cooking
Parmesan cheese to grate on top
PROCESSES
Clean the mushrooms, scrape away any bad bits or patches that are too discoloured. Strangely enough the discoloured patches do fade during cooking. Watch out for bugs that like to live in the stem. Slice each mushroom into thick strips.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil, add the mushrooms garlic and the herbs and sauté over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.
Add wine, nutmeg, seasoning, stock or stock cube (dissolved in about ½ cup of hot water) and tomato paste (optional). Add more water or wine if the mixture looks too dry.
Cover and cook over low heat for about 5-7minutes. Add cream or butter at the very end to enrich the sauce.
Use this sauce as a dressing for cooked pasta. Add grated cheese at the table.

MA2SBAE8REVW

EDIBLE WEEDS: Orecchiette e Broccoletti Selvatici (and cime di rape)

These plants are what I have always known as broccoletti selvatici. They are part of the group of edible plants called piante selvatiche (wild plants) or piante spontanee or erbe spontanee (spontaneous herbs) in Italian

For the photo, I collected two whole plants and the photos took place in my dining room (this is why they look so well groomed).

The weed, is classed as a brassica (family of vegetables which includes broccoli and cabbage) and if you can be patient enough to collect a sufficient quantity of wild broccoletti you will not be disappointed. As you see by the second photo, it is only the tender tips with young leaves that you pick – love and patience is required – take a bag, be prepared to walk and pick only the tender shoots from each plant.

They taste similar to cime di rape and tossed around in a pan with garlic, some chilli and olive oil, they make a vey tasty vegetable contorno (side dish) or a pasta sauce for orecchiette (pasta shaped like little ears and popular in Puglia). As a variation for that pasta sauce, a fresh, Italian pork sausage or some anchovies can be crumbled into the hot pan at the same time.

The pasta will need pecorino rather than parmigiano grated on top – not only because it is a southern Italian type dish, but also because a strong tasting sauce requires a strong cheese.

I discovered that what I have always known as cime di rape have local names in some regions of Italy. In Lazio they’re broccoletti. in Campania  they’re named friarielli, and in Toscana, rapini.  You may therefore not be surprised that what I call broccoletti selvatici are known by different  local names in the different regions of Italy. For example in Sicily which is a small island, some Sicilians may call them lazzane (a similar wild green in Sicily) and other Sicilians from a different part of Sicily may refer to them as cavoliceddi.

Like all vegetables, these wild broccoletti are seasonal and you will need to wait till the yellow flower appears before you pick them, but not too many yellow flowers, because this means that the plant is going to seed. If this is the case, and the plant will be spindly – its energy would have gone into seed production, and in fact, if you look at the photo, this is already beginning to happen.

Most of the world’s other cultures harvested (and some still harvest) from the wild: dandelions, wild chicories, nettles, amaranth, purslane and wild fennel may be the most recognised.

Other cultures living in Australia also collect wild greens, for example Greeks call them horta and I have written about vlita – a summer weed, in a previous post. Indigenous Australians had their favourites and some early pioneers ate wild greens, such as Warrigal greens and pigweed.

SICILIAN EDIBLE WEEDS and Greek VLITA

INGREDIENTS
orecchiette 500 g
wild greens or cime di rape, 500-700g
garlic cloves, to taste, chopped
chillies, to taste, chopped
anchovy fillets 3-4 chopped finely or 1-2 pork Italian sausages
extra virgin olive oil, ½- ¾ cup
white wine, a splash
pecorino for grating
PROCESSES
Wash the greens.
Heat some olive oil, add the garlic, chillies and the anchovies (or broken up sausage).
Add the vegetables sauté for a few minutes until they begin to wilt.
Add white wine, cover and cook till soft.(Some cooks pre-cook the greens and then sauté them – this is not necessary if you are only cooking the young shoots).
Cook the orecchiette and dress them with the greens.
Present them at the table with grated cheese, preferably pecorino -this is the stronger tasting grating cheese and more alined with southern Italian tastes.
SEE:

MA2SBAE8REVW

PASTA CON FINOCCHIO (Pasta and fennel – preferably wild)

 

Fennel+fronds+26+bulbs_0439

No it is not wild fennel, it just looks like it.

I found this bunch of fennel at one of my favourite stalls in the Queen Victoria market this week.  Apart from many other vegetables, I always buy my cime di rape, radicchio, chicory, kale, broadbeans, coloured cauli, violet eggplants – name any of the out of the norm vegetables and this is where I go: to Gus and Carmel’s. I even bought some milkweed this morning. This is where I also buy my vlita – another weed.

At the end of the fennel season (and it is well and truly this in Victoria, Australia) the fennel plant (called Florentine fennel) produces some flat bulbs, which never mature.

My friend Libby who grows fennel in her wonderful garden in the Adelaide Hills first alerted me to these flat bulbs last year – at the time we thought that this would be very suitable to use with pasta con le sarde which includes wild fennel as one of the ingredients. After speaking to her I saw some bunches of these small flat bulbs for sale at the Queen Victoria Melbourne Market. And here they were again for sale today. I spoke to the vendor (Gus) who said that rather than wasting them he thought that he could try to sell bunches of them. This fennel may become very marketable – good on you Gus.

IMG_0002

Gus is Calabrese. He knows that I like to use this type of fennel for my Sicilian pasta con le sarde, but he told me how he uses the fennel to make a pasta sauce and he uses anchovies.

Gus+%40+stall_0042-250x250

He slices the whole plant finely (the green fronds and non-developed bulbs) and cooks it all in some boiling water with a little salt. Then he drains it well.

Anchovies are the secret ingredient.

In a large frypan dissolve a few chopped anchovies in some hot extra virgin olive oil (the anchovies are crushed using a wooden or metal spoon until they melt in the oil).

Add the garlic (chilli is optional). Add the cooked fennel and toss it in extra virgin olive oil and flavours. This is your pasta sauce.

Sicilians would select bucatini. Calabresi would like to be Sicilians so they would as well.

Present the pasta dressed with the fennel, topped with toasted breadcrumbs (the alternative to grated cheese not only in Sicily, but obviously also in Calabria).

For bread crubs: use 1-3 day old white bread (crusty bread, sourdough or pasta dura).

Remove crust, break into pieces, place into a food processor and make into coarse crumbs. They can be crumbled with fingertips or grated. The term for breadcrumbs, in Italian is pane grattugiato/ grattato – it means grated bread.

Heat about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and add 1 cup of coarse breadcrumbs (see above). Stir continuously on low temperature until an even, golden brown.

Obviously if you do not have access to someone who has fennel growing in their garden, or to wild fennel, or to Gus and Carmel’s stall you may need to use bulb fennel with as much green frond as you can get. Nearly as good, but not quite!!

I also bought this garlic at the same time- not bad.

MA2SBAE8REVW