EARTHY FLAVOURS


Autumn is all about the harvest....it's the time for gathering and collecting…making Jam, making wine & bottling preserves.
The golden colours take over from the vivid display of summer and cooking takes on a different character too. The flavours are more powerful and pronounced, as the ingredients lend themselves to more robust, earthy dishes with game, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin and wild mushrooms all coming into season.
Mushroom & Spinach Tartlets

There’s something special about wild mushrooms. The fact that they have still defied modern cultivation methods and only grow wild in woodlands and meadows adds to their mystery. Wild varieties have been gathered since 3500bc. The Greeks exported them to the Romans who considered them food for gods and the Egyptians would only serve them to the pharaohs as they were judged to be far too good for ordinary mortals like you and me.

These days’s mushroom picking is a national pastime in Spain, and thousands of passionate devotees spend hours in the fields and meadows searching for them. Collectively they are known as “setas” or “hongos”, and dozens of regional varieties exist. Although autumn is traditionally considered the best season for wild mushrooms, Spain’s varied microclimate helps to offer a
steady supply all year round. The provinces of Castilla y León, Huesca, Galicia, the Basque country, Catalonia and Valencia are among the most prolific mushroom producing regions, but all across Spain, in every local market you will find a selection of locally grown specialities to look out for including “rossinyol”, “oreja de judas”, “pie azul”, “cep”, “trompetas negras”, “ous de reig”, “rovellon” and “camagroc”.

The most popular and widely used wild mushrooms in Spain are “girgolas” (Chanterelles). These are highly flavoured with a good texture and are often served in scrambled eggs or cooked “Al Ajillo” with parsley, garlic and olive oil. “Colminillas” (morels), are among the most highly prized, they grow in dry, sandy areas and have a sponge-like cap so it is important to wash them well to get rid of any grit. They are excellent in all mushroom dishes and as additions to stews and casseroles.

In Mallorca this month, look out for a local variety called “Esclata-sangs”. They are large, big flavoured mushrooms that are just perfect for grilling or roasting. Clean them well and simply sprinkle them with a little sea salt, olive oil, crushed garlic cloves and chopped parsley before placing them under a hot grill for about 5-6 minutes. You’ll need some crusty bread to soak up the cooking juices and the heavenly aroma can be addictive.

Obviously it is important to clean wild mushrooms well, but they should not be soaked in water. This only results in a drastic loss of flavour and texture. Clean your fungi with a damp cloth then trim the stalk with a sharp knife and use a pastry brush to remove all the grit and dirt from the most inaccessible parts. Discard any that are mushy and discoloured and store them in a cool, dry place. Mushrooms should not be picked and eaten unless you are thoroughly familiar with them as there are obviously many poisonous varieties. Buy them safely from the local markets and enjoy this truly wild, magnificent taste of the forest.

MUSHROOM & SPINACH TARTLETS
WITH EASY HOLLANDAISE SAUCE


Ingredients            serves 6

200g plain flour
100g diced butter, chilled
A pinch of salt

To make the pastry, put the flour and butter in a bowl and work with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt and enough cold water to form dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge, and then roll the pastry out thinly on a floured work surface to about 2mm thickness.
Line 6 individual tart rings and place them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 200C/ 180/gas 6. Brush the pastry with beaten egg to glaze and bake the tartlets for 15-20 minutes in the oven then leave to cool.

Easy Hollandaise sauce

3 egg yolks
1tbsn warm water
1tbsn fresh lemon juice
200g unsalted butter
Seasoning

Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium until it starts to bubble (do not let it brown).

Bring to the boil a large pan of water and then reduce to a simmer.
Whisk together the egg yolks, water and lemon juice in a bowl until light & frothy. Set the bowl over the pan of water and gradually pour in the hot butter in a very thin stream, whisking continually until the sauce is thick and emulsified. Season to taste.


For the mushroom & spinach duxells:
700g            button mushrooms, cleaned
100g            shallots, peeled
1            garlic clove, crushed
50ml             olive oil
50ml            butter
            Sprig of thyme
2tbsp.            Parsley (finely chopped)
2tbsp cream
20 young spinach leaves, cleaned
            Seasoning


Place the mushrooms, shallot & garlic into the chopper accessory and pulse several times to finely dice the ingredients. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the mushroom mixture and fresh thyme.  Cook over a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, Add the cream and continue to cook until the duxells resembles a thick puree. Add the parsley and stir in the baby spinach leaves. Season to taste. Divide the mixture between the 6 tartlets and top with a large spoonful of hollandaise sauce.
Glaze the tartlets for 30 seconds under a hot grill & serve immediately.

 

REVUELTO DE SETAS Y CHORIZO

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS AND CHORIZO

Ingredients:                        serves 4

8            eggs
175g            mixed wild mushrooms (well cleaned)
100g            chorizo sausage, diced
1            garlic clove (crushed)
2tbsp            olive oil
2tbsp            cream
1tbsp            chopped parsley
            Salt and pepper

Cut the mushrooms into small pieces. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the diced chorizo, crushed garlic and mushrooms. Beat the eggs in bowl and add them to the frying pan. Stir with a wooden spoon until just set. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and chopped parsley. Season and serve immediately.




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