I love the big oyster or similar mushrooms (sold as 'setas' in Spain) but I'm never quite sure what to do with them, other than grilling or frying them with garlic. Recently, however, as part of our family's River Cottage addiction, I saw Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall breading and frying some wild mushrooms, and thought I would give it a try. The result was great - there was a really good contrast between the juicy mushroom and the crispy coating, and none of the bitterness you sometimes get with mushrooms - all of which just confirms the value of the motto: "when in doubt, fry it".
Dragon balls and lion's heads
I also like the fact that these look exactly like the pollo empanado or breaded chicken fillets, so beloved by Spaniards. And so, in the best spirit of Chinese restaurant menus everywhere, I have dubbed them fried forest oysters. (Thanks to Madalen for helping me working out what they were - see comments below. I am a complete mushroom ignoramus, so anything beyond a button mushroom has me stumped!)
0.25 kg oyster mushrooms
plenty of dried breadcrumbs
olive oil for frying
Wipe the mushrooms clean, remove any woody bits of stalk and trim the ends if the mushrooms are not in tip-top condition, then cut each mushroom lengthewise into 2 or 3 wide strips. Dip the mushrooms in egg, then breadrcrumbs and fry in plenty of olive oil until golden and crispy on both sides. Remove to a plate, sprinkle with plenty of salt, and serve.
The oyster mushrooms are light and soak up a lot of egg (in their gills) and breadcrumbs, so 1/4 kg goes quite a long way and would be a reasonable main course for two hungry adults or a starter for four.
A taste of Serbia
I sometimes have a quick google to see if something I have come up with is already out there. I've been gratified so far to find that my rabbit dhansak and snail pakora are unique creations, but it's also nice when the opposite happens. Apparently breaded oyster mushrooms are popular in Serbia, where they go by the name of Pohovane bukovače. Not a lot of people know that!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
One of the many things that strikes me as so wrong about school is that learning is packaged up into units or courses or years and that you can't follow your interests or curiosity. A small example. Carmela's best friend is Kaya, who is Danish-American. The fact of her being half-Danish sparked an interest in Vikings (expressed through dressing up as Vikings and asking what Viking houses were like). If Carmela had been at school, she would just have to have hoped that her interest in Vikings coincided with Vikings being on the menu that term (or rather, that week). And that the teacher or syllabus designer had decided to include the things that she was actually interested in. And then allowed her to stop when she didn't want to do any more.
Another problem with organized, formal learning is that you can't pursue tangents (or at least not very far). Well, this recipe came at the end of a long tangent that started with "Bat out of hell" and ended (a few days later) with me and Sammy cooking meatloaf in the kitchen. The original recipe can be found here, although we did a bit of kitchen improvization and also jazzed it up a little. (Rather mysteriously, the version on the BBC Good Food blog prescriptively requires "a 500g pack of minced pork". Does the pork have to be in a pack? And can you use half of a 1kg pack or 2 x 250g packs?)
Ingredients (enough for two meatloafs)
1 kg minced pork
2 cloves of garlic
large handful of parsley
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
200g fresh white breadcrumbs (remove the crusts from the bread and whizz in a food processor)
1 tsp salt
streaky bacon (enough to line two loaf tins, plus 4 extra rashers)
spices (see step 4 below)
- Set your oven to 180oC.
- Peel, finely chop and fry the onion and garlic.
- Put the pork, herbs, egg, breadcrumbs and salt in a large bowl, together with the fried onion and garlic, and 4 rashers of finely chopped streaky bacon. (As I'm in Spain at the moment, I substituted chicharrones especiales for the bacon, which is a bit like a Spanish version of finely sliced pancetta.)
- At this point I divided the mixture into two. I put 2 teaspoons of paprika into one of the portions, and Sammy put 1 tsp of garam masala and 1 tsp of chilli powder into the other one.
- Line two loaf tins with the bacon, and fill each with the mixture.
- Place the loaf tins in a large, high-sided baking tray, fill with boiling water until it comes about halfway up the tins, and bake for 50 minutes.
- Remove tray from oven and allow the loaves to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so. Pour off any excess liquid and turn out onto a plate.
Whenever I hear the phrase, "you took the words right out of my mouth", I can't help thinking of the next line in the Meatloaf song: "it must have been while you were kissing me". And this in turn always sparks the rather unappetising question: was Meatloaf actually eating some meatloaf at the time? I guess not, because otherwise the song would be "you took the mince right out of my mouth". No half-chewed mince visible here, thankfully.