Around ANZAC DAY in Victoria I go foraging . This is my latest harvest of saffron coloured, pine mushrooms (Lactarius deliciosus), also called saffron milk caps and red pine mushrooms.
There are 3k of mushrooms in this bag above.
We have eaten some twice already.
Above = with taglatelle.
Below = as a vegetable side dish with Italian pork sausages.
And these jars are in my freezer.
These mushrooms bruise very easily so I cook them as soon as possible after I have collected them.
Unfortunately the mushrooms’ gills when bruised discolour to a very unattractive green-grey tinge. I ignore most of the bruising and cut off the worst bits of the discoloured mushrooms that show too much wear and tear or obvious decay.
Most of the time the saffron coloured, pine mushrooms I collect cannot just be wiped clean with a damp cloth and I often have to clean them under softly running water to remove any sand, soil , grass or pine needles. I always completely remove the woody hollow stems because I have often found some bugs harbouring inside the stems. Having said all of this I make them sound as if they are not worth the effort but they are!
How do I cook them? …..very simply. I have written about wild mushrooms before.
I invited some friends for dinner last Saturday evening and in walks one friend with this box.
I had no idea of the contents, but I knew that they could not have been chocolates – the box was far too large! Besides, the other friend bought chocolates.
Inside the box were a range of mushrooms; included were Saffron Coloured, Pine Mushrooms and Slippery Jacks and both are wild mushroom varieties. My friend bought these from her favourite green grocer.
I cooked them the next day and made a delicious pasta sauce (for different friends).
What I particularly like about using a mixed selection of mushrooms is the differences of textures; the taste of each type of mushroom tastes different too.
There is no point in writing the recipe for the sauce again because I have included it in a previous post about wild mushrooms. Like my posts about pickling olives, the posts about wild mushrooms are very popular with readers at the moment. This is not surprising because it is that season for both olives and for collecting wild mushrooms.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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) .
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
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.