Foraging also known as treasure hunting for grown ups

One of my favourite things about winter is definitely all things fungi. I feel like a kid again when we forage. It’s like going on a treasure hunt where you find clues all around leading you to the ultimate treasure … beautiful, fresh exotic fungi.

Chefs foraging for mushrooms

Like any proper treasure hunt you need a map, same goes for foraging. Not only do you need to know where to look for specific fungi but also what is safe and what isn’t. Mark big black sculls for poisonous and inedible fungi and the ultimate “X” marks the spot for those hidden treasures.

I thought I might give you a few clues to add to your treasure map to make the hunt a bit easier.

If it’s your first treasure hunt aka foraging trip here’s a list of things that come in handy:

1. A walking stick (for walking and to move leaves and other debris under which our treasure might hide)
2. A woven basket (keeping mushrooms in a plastic bag makes them sweat and degrade very quickly also you want the spores, seeds if you like, to drop through onto the ground as you walk, spread and hopefully grow into nice edible mushrooms for next year)
3. A knife and a brush (for removing damaged or dirty sections before adding it to your basket)
4. Old clothes (you’ll be on your hands and knees most of the time so no use buggering up your fab wardrobe)

ForagingWoven basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savour every moment of your hunt, take your time and make a day out of it. “Getting your eye in” takes a while so the more often you Guide showing what to look for forage the easier it will become. Pack a flask of coffee for a break during the hunt and remember to look around every now and then because you’re surrounded by amazing scenery. Start with easily recognisable mushrooms and then gradually extend your list.

If possible take a guide with you that can tell you which mushrooms are safe for consumption and which you should rather stay away from. If you’re not so lucky research the poisonous ones before you start your hunt so that they are easily spotted. Please, please be very careful. If you’re not sure rather move on to the next spot.

Do not pick old or mouldy mushrooms even if they are edible. Like any other food that goes off, they can make you ill. If you’re unsure of what type of mushroom it is, use a stick to check and discard the stick if it’s a poisonous one. Never touch an unknown mushrooms with your bare hands and if you do make sure to wash your hands before continuing your treasure hunt.

Autumn is usually the best time to go treasure hunting but each species of fungus has its own season. They flourish in wet then warmer conditions so go hunting 2 or 3 sunshine days after a rainy one.

Pine ring mushroomMany species of fungi only grow in association with certain types of trees for example:
Pine rings – pine trees
Chicken of the forest (hen of the woods) – oak trees
Porcini (cèpe) – pine or oak trees

Quick tip: When trying new mushrooms keep a few extra in the fridge for a couple of days so that if you do become ill they can quickly be identified.

Store the mushrooms in the fridge in a brown paper bag or wrap them in kitchen towel and store in a loosely sealed container. They can last several days in the fridge, some even longer.
I’ll be posting some of my favourite mushroom recipes over the next couple of weeks. Try them and let me know what you think. Some are easy entertaining recipes and others are perfect for cold wintery evenings in front of the fire.

 

Sausage, fennel and mushroom ragout

Easy winter food perfect for keeping the cold out.

Easy winter food perfect for keeping the cold out.

Serves 6-8

50 g dried porcini mushrooms
250 ml boiling water
45 ml olive oil
800 g pork sausages
1 onion, sliced
15 ml garlic, chopped
1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped
10 ml fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2,5 ml chilli flakes
160 ml dry white wine
2 × 400 g chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
500 g store-bought gnocchi
45 ml butter
45 ml olive oil
450 g mixed mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper, to season
Parmesan shaving, to serve
Micro leaves, to serve

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the water for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. Push the pork sausage out of its casings and set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and over high heat. Fry the sausage pieces in batches until golden brown. Remove and set aside until needed.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Cook onion for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, fennel and chilli. Fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it has almost completely evaporated.
4. Add the sausage pieces, tomatoes, bay leaves and mushroom liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
5. Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes or until they rise to the top just before serving. Remove and drain.
6. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and gnocchi and fry until golden brown. Season to taste.
7. Spoon the sauce into serving bowls and top with the fried mushrooms and gnocchi. Serve with parmesan shavings and micro leaves.

Photographer: Daniela Zondagh

Food Stylist & Recipe Developer: Inemari Rabie

 

 

 

 

On rainy days like this … all you need is soup!

With rainy days like these all you want to do is go home, make a big pot of soup and snuggle comfortably under the biggest, warmest blanket you have.  (In front of a crackling fire for those who are lucky enough to have one) I thought I could share some of my favourite soup recipes with you to try this winter. Some are quick and easy recipes for mid week wonders while others need some time to bubble away on the stove top. All of them are worth it though! Let me know what you think?

Thai Orange Sweet Potato Soup with coriander crème fraîche
Serves 6

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For the soup
15 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cm ginger, finely grated
10 ml garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
30 ml lemongrass, finely grated
15 ml red curry paste
1 kg orange sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1,5 l vegetable stock
310 ml coconut cream
For the coriander crème fraîche
60 g fresh coriander, chopped
50 g roasted cashews
80 ml olive oil
80 ml coconut cream
250 ml crème fraîche

1. For the soup: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli, lemon grass and curry paste and cook for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic.
2. Add the sweet potato and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender.
3. In the meantime, prepare the coriander crème fraîche. Place the coriander, cashews and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add the coconut cream and blend until combined. Stir the coriander pesto through the crème fraîche and set aside until needed.
4. Place half the sweet potato mixture in a jug blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a clean saucepan. Repeat with remaining mixture. Place back on the heat and bring to the boil. Stir in the rest of the coconut cream and spoon into serving bowls. Serve with coriander crème fraîche, sweet potato chips and fresh bread.

Moroccan lamb soup
This recipe is easy to prepare but start early so that is has enough time to cook.
Serves 8

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Moroccan lamb soup

5 ml cayenne pepper
10 ml ground black pepper
5 ml ground coriander
7,5 ml ground ginger
5 ml turmeric
10 ml ground cinnamon
1,5 kg lamb shanks
45 ml olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
45 ml tomato paste
500 ml red wine
2 × 400 g whole peeled tomatoes
200 g dried apricots
200 g pitted dates
100 g whole/flaked almonds, lightly toasted
2 l good quality lamb or beef stock
500 ml cooked lentils

1. Combine all the spices in a bowl. Massage half of the spice mixture into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook the lamb in batches on both sides until browned. Add the vegetables, garlic and the rest of the spices and fry for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook out for 1 minute.
3. Add the wine, tomatoes, apricots, dates, almonds and stock. Cover and simmer for 4-5 hours or until the lamb is tender. Add the lentils and serve in front of the fire with a good glass of shiraz.

Creamy seafood and chorizo chowder
Serves 6-8

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30 ml olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
10 ml garlic, finely chopped
300 g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1,5 cm pieces
50 g chorizo, thinly sliced
60 ml flour
1 l chicken stock
250 ml corn kernels
600 g mixed seafood
125 ml cream
30 ml fresh dill, chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, garlic, sweet potato and chorizo and cook for 5 minutes or until the leeks has softened.
2. Add the flour and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the corn, seafood and cream. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the seafood is cooked through.
3. Serve with chopped dill and chunks of bread.

Food styling: Inemari Rabie
Photography: Daniela Zondagh