Category Archives: mushrooms

Chicken and mushroom pie (Serves: 4 -Preparation time: +1hr)

I suspect that you will be somewhat surprised to hear that the inspiration for this pie recipe was ‘Beef Wellington’- well to be more specific the mushroom duxelle and the pastry elements of it.  There is nothing complicated about this recipe, it is just simple ingredients cooked well and left to speak for themselves.

“Tender chicken in a silky mushroom sauce topped off with crunchy flaky pastry – comfort food at its best!”

The filling can be made up in advance kept in the fridge for 1-2 days until it is needed which makes it a fantastic option for mid-week entertaining or to have in reserve if life is particularly busy – if you are doing this then cover with the pastry just before putting in the oven otherwise the pastry may dry out in the fridge.

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Stuffed Portobello mushrooms (Serves: 2/4 – Preparation time: 25 mins)

The recipe below is a little gem as it can be prepped and ready to eat in just over 20 minutes and works well both as a main meal or starter.  It is packed full of veggies meaning that you are well on your way to meeting your “5-A-Day”.  I am not really the type of person to talk about ‘clean eating’ as I am of the view that if you make something from scratch more often than not it falls into that category – that being said, for those of you that are looking for a healthy option for supper this recipe is right up there!

There is no denying that this is a ‘rustic’ recipe – in other words the presentation lacks finesse.  However, the variety of vegetables used in this dish means that your plate is filled with vibrant colours making it draw the eye and entice the eater.  The flavours complement one another giving a delicate balance between sweet, salty and creamy. Ladies and Gents, if you like mushrooms then this is one to try as it is tasty no nonsense cooking. Enjoy!

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Mushroom and ale risotto served in a roasted red pepper with rare steak strips (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 1 hr)

I would describe the recipe below as quite manly as the ingredients that are used are hearty and somewhat earthy.   However I don’t think risotto is often associated as being a masculine meal but I hope that the chaps trying this recipe will be pleasantly surprised by this little number.  If you are looking for a recipe for date night then I would recommend giving this recipe a go.

For those of you that have not made a risotto before the most important thing to remember is not to rush.  A risotto works best when you cook it on a low heat adding the stock a little at a time allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.  It is important that whilst doing this you stir it regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Provided that you take your time you will end up with a beautifully creamy risotto – so make sure when you are cooking a risotto that you give yourself at least 20-30 minutes to make it!

The other thing I would say for those of you that are put off by this recipe because there are too many elements don’t be as there really are only 6 steps.  Here is the breakdown of what you need to do:

  1. Wash and put the red peppers in the oven – no need to remove the core and seeds at this point.
  2. Whilst the peppers are cooking prepare your risotto.  Once it is cooked – cover and leave to one side whilst you cook the steak and green vegetables.
  3. Boil or steam green vegetables.
  4. Heat frying pan and cook the steak.
  5. Whilst the steak is resting and the vegetables are draining the vegetables – core and seed the peppers.
  6. Cut the steak into strip and plate up.

It really is that straightforward I promise.  The only downside to this recipe is that there is a lot of washing up – sorry about that…

My final comment is that I tend to find the more charred the peppers the better the flavour, so don’t worry if the skin on the peppers is black – that is what you are aiming for.  Enjoy!

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Pork with apples and mushrooms served in a mustard sauce (Serves: 4 – Preparation time: 40 minutes)

It has been a miserable week in the UK weather-wise with public transport grinding to a halt in London yesterday morning after some dramatic thunderstorms. As a consequence I have been eating comfort food to get through this dreadful weather and am praying that summer is just around the corner…

The recipe below is for pork with apples and mushrooms served in a mustard sauce, is both comforting and affordable.  The flavour combinations are fairly traditional and are a nice balance of sweet, sharp and creamy.  This is a straightforward recipe and does take too long to prepare which makes it very achievable to make when you get home after work – to put it into context it takes roughly the same amount of time to make as it does to peel and boil potatoes.  If you don’t like pork then I would recommend substituting it with chicken thighs – just brown off the chicken in a separate pan before adding to the mixture in accordance with the recipe below.

In terms of what to serve with this recipe I would go for new or mashed potatoes and whatever green veg is currently in season preferably one with a slight crunch like sugar snap peas or green beans).  This recipe is definitely worth a try.  Enjoy!

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Venison wellington served with a red wine gravy

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Last November I followed the local hunt when they were shooting deer so that I could take some photographs of the day.  It was a really interesting experience that started at 8 o’clock in the morning, as all the hunters gathered at the ‘hunting lodge’ to sign in.  ‘Petit cafés’ were drunk in abundance as hunting stories and local news was shared amongst the hunters whilst they waited to hear the plan for the day.

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At 9 o’clock the chaps who were shooting set off in their little white vans and 4×4’s dressed in a combination of camouflage and high visibility jackets and hats, to position their stools (an absolutely necessity for comfort purposes when out shooting) , thermos flasks and set up their guns.  Those who were walking with the dogs stayed behind to lock up the lodge before heading out about 30 minutes later.

The dogs were split into 2 packs to work on either side of the valley.  Every time a dog picked up the scent of a deer you knew about it as the braying started and the hounds set off at speed.  A hunting horn was used to summon back the dogs as well as to announce if there had been a kill indicated by a single blow of the horn.

3BW_0422 At 12 o’clock on the dot the hunters packed up their guns and headed back to the lodge where the mornings kill was displayed and a glass of wine was handed out.  After much discussion of the morning’s success (7 deer and 1 fox) everyone headed inside to sit down on long trestle tables for a 5 course meal (soup, pâté, grilled meat and bean stew, cheese and chocolate mousse).  During the course of the lunch I found out that out of our commune of 1,400 people there are 130 registered hunters.  It also quickly became apparent that women rarely attend the hunt, resulting in much banter and joking amongst the men as they speculated as to whether this was where I hoped to find a husband

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I parted company with the hunt after lunch and left them to carry on for a further 3 hours.  When I caught up with some of them later that evening, they were in great spirits as they informed me they had had a super day having got a further 4 deer – bringing tally up to 11 deer and 1 fox.  This meant that when the deer were later skinned and butchered, each of the 30-odd hunters received roughly a side of deer at the end of the day.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about Venison Pasties, we had been given a side of roe deer before Xmas by the hunt as a thank you for allowing them to shoot on our land – as a result, over the last couple of months I have been able to cook various recipes using the venison.  Last night’s supper was without doubt in my mind the best of the lot, Venison Wellington.  I mean who doesn’t like tender meat flavoured with juniper berries picked in our forest, surrounded with mushrooms slowly cooked in cream and brandy wrapped in pastry that is packed full of butter and just flakes in your mouth….

If you can afford to buy the venison fillet then this is absolutely worth cooking!  Be patient when you make it and let everything cool completely before wrapping everything up in the pastry, if necessary prepare everything in the morning and then put it together in the evening.  Preparation is the key to making this dish!

 

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Venison Wellington (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity rough puff pastry (see recipe below)
  • 500g venison fillet
  • 1/2tsp juniper berries
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (for glazing)

For the Mushroom Duxelles:

  • 50g butter
  • 300g chestnut mushrooms (diced)
  • 4 shallots (finely diced)
  • ½tsp thyme
  • 2-3tbsp brandy
  • 2-3tbsp cream
  • seasoning

Steps:

Stage 1 – Pastry

  • Prepare your rough puff pastry according to the recipe below.

Stage 2 – Prepare the meat

  • Remove any sinew or fat from the fillet.
  • Crush the juniper berries in a pestle and mortar then scatter them over the bottom of a roasting tray along with some salt and pepper.
  • Heat a frying pan so that it is ‘smoking hot’ – sear your fillet roughly 30 seconds on each side.  Remove from the pan and place in the roasting tray and roll in the juniper berry seasoning, then cover with tin foil and leave to cool completely.

Stage 3 – Prepare the Duxelles

  • Melt the butter in the frying pan you seared the meat in.
  • Add the thyme, mushrooms and shallots, cook on a low temperature very gently until the mushrooms are soft (this can take up to 1 ½hrs).
  • Add the brandy and cook for a further 10-15 minutes .
  • Finally add the cream and cook for a final 2-3 minutes before setting to one side and allowing to cool completely.

Stage 4 – Prepare your Wellington

  • Preheat your oven to 190C fan.
  • Roll out your pastry into a large rectangle on a piece of baking paper.
  • Spoon the Duxelles into the middle of the pastry and smooth out, leaving a slight border around the edges of the pastry.
  •  Place the fillet in the centre.

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  • Brush some egg wash around the edges of the pastry, then roll over the pastry to create a cylinder shape.  Seal the ends of the pastry by pinching it together gently.

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  • Finally roll the Wellington over so that the seal is on the bottom, score the top of the Wellington using the back of a knife, then brush with egg wash.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes then allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Rough Puff Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 250g butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 100-150ml chilled water
  • 1tsp salt

Steps:

1.  Place the flour, salt and butter in bowl and roughly ‘crumb together’ using your fingers.

2.  Add some of the water and bring the mixture together, adding more water if it is needed.

3.  Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

4.  Once chilled remove from the fridge and roll out into a rectangular shape.  Imagine that the rectangle is divided into thirds and fold, one side in to the middle and then fold the other side into the middle.  Turn it 90 degrees and then roll out and repeat again before wrapping up in cling film and chilling for 20 minutes.

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5.  Once chilled repeat step 4 again, chill for a final 20 minutes before rolling out for use.

[Note:  the quantities about makes about 600g of pastry.  The pastry can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days before using.]

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Red Wine Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • ½ tsp allspice berries
  • 4 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour (make into a paste using a little water)

Steps:

  1. Place the wine, brandy, allspice, juniper berries and bay leaf into a small saucepan and heat until it has reduced by half.
  2. Add the beef stock and heat for around 5 minutes.
  3. Finally add the cornflour and heat until the gravy has thickened.  Serve immediately.

 

Side dishes (part 2)

When I got back to France last week lying in a box on the kitchen table were four relatively large marrows.  My first reaction was, “oh God, not marrow”, as the childhood memories of stuffed marrow came flooding back.    I have always thought of marrow as being a fairly tasteless vegetable which always seemed to turn into a soggy mess when cooked.  However, this time I was determined to find something good to do with them.  So my first step was to Google marrow recipes.  Sure enough stuffed marrow appeared time and time again.  I stumbled on one forum that had me chuckling away as I read some peoples’ views on marrows.  Here are a couple of the comments for your amusement:

“Slice marrow in half lengthways.  Leave on kitchen worktop.  Wait for Other Half or child to come in and moan “oh not bl**dy marrow AGAIN” *theatrical sighing*.  Take marrow outside and give to the hens”

“1. Peel outer skin
2. Chop off ends
3. Cut length ways in half
4. Remove all seeds and discard
5. Dice marrow into 1 inch cube
6. Salt to taste
7. Place in bowl and refrigerate for 18/24 hours
8. Remove from fridge
9. Kettle on and brew tea
10. Add milk & sugar to personal requirement
11. Make a cheese toastie
12. Throw marrow in bin
13. Enjoy said toastie with your cup of tea”

After A LOT of searching on the internet some of the more interesting recipes I started to come across involved frying the marrow with fresh herbs – however I was concerned that the marrow might become a little greasy.  However, it made me start thinking about what it was about marrow that I didn’t enjoy and it boiled down to the texture.  Subsequently it got me thinking what if I tried to make the outside crispy.  In the end I settled on marrow and potato chips with fresh herbs – and even if I do say so myself, they tasted pretty good.


Marrow and Potato Chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium marrow
  • 4/6 medium potatoes
  • Handful of plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Combination of fresh or dried herbs (e.g. parsley, coriander, chive and thyme)
  • Olive oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Peel and de-seed the marrow.  Then cut into small bite sized cubes.  Place the marrow in a colander sprinkle with some salt and then place over the sink and leave for 30-40 minutes to draw out the water before drying the marrow with paper towel.
          
  2. Place the flour and herbs in a bowl and season well.  Toss the marrow in the bowl until they are completely covered with flour, then set to one side.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and cube the potatoes.  Dry them slightly with paper towel, before placing on a large baking tray.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle some olive oil over and then toss the potatoes with your hands to make sure they are evenly coated with oil.
  4. Place the tray in an oven preheated to 190C fan for 10 mins to start the potatoes cooking.
  5. After 10 minutes remove from the oven and add the marrow to the baking tray.  Stir the potatoes and marrow together, drizzle over a little more oil before placing back in the oven for a further 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Note: Yesterday I made the potato and marrow chips again, this time however I added cubed carrots for a splash of colour.  I made the mistake putting them in the oven at the same time as the potatoes, as a result they cooked too quickly.  So a word of advice add the carrots at the same time as the marrow otherwise they are likely to be a little on the carbonised side of things…