Miso mushrooms

Dear readers,
Please don´t think that when I don´t go into detail over recipes I´m being purposely obscure or irritating. I just don´t want to be boring overexplaining things, but I can see that sometimes I cross the line.
So here is the miso trick for button mushrooms, as Pille asks. Pille is something of a mushroom guru for me, therefore her wish is my command.

Of course wild mushrooms are the Ferraris of mushroom world, and truffles the Rolls Royce, and in a perfect world we´d all gather them in sweet little baskets while our children cavorted adorably in matching gingham. However, for basic elemental meals, the button mushroom, the humble champiñón that obligingly grows on demmand is a beautiful thing. They´re easy to find, pretty quick to clean, specially if you buy the kind with the muddy bit of the stem already cut off, and they are a joy to slice.
The few minutes it takes to slice a bowl of white mushrooms are happy happy minutes for me, truly.

Mushrooms are naturally high in umami, that savoury kick of flavour, but you can up the ante by adding dried wild mushrooms that you have previously soaked. Or, for a less luxurious but still impressive addition, a good spoonful of miso.

So anyway, just put a biggish saute pan, nonstick for choice, over the fire and coat it with olive oil. Now smash a couple of garlic cloves or chop them finely and put them in the oil. Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms. By the time the garlic starts dancing in the pan you´ll have a few already chopped, so put them in and go on chopping. If you´re using the dried porcini add them now.
The pan will be very crowded when you have them all in, but just shake it a bit, salt the mushrooms and see how they go. I´m usually doing something else while this happens; boiling pasta, or putting the rice cooker on, or watching Pía warily as she plays with the iPad while finding something for Pepe to break his teeth on (he likes silicone spatulas).
They´ll release a lot of water, but just shake the pan a bit every now and then. Now is when you add a splash of sherry and a good spoonful of miso. Break it up as well as you can. It helps that there´s liquid around, so you can dissolve it well.

When they´re drying up you want to watch them; they´ll turn golden, so wait for that and shake the pan so they´re all crusty and wonderful. Just watch it so they don´t burn.

Grind black pepper over them and if you have it, and chopped parsley always looks good.
There, that´s it. I could have just said "add a tablespoonful of miso when you sautee mushrooms" but this leaves no room for doubt, I hope.



Well, at last. I don´t know what´s worse, packing or unpacking. But things seem to be more or less back to normal, and since it´s full blown autum here in Scotland, on Monday I was lucky to be given some more chanterelles, so here´s the answer to a reader who asked what I did with them (sorry to do it so late).
With wild mushrooms all I do is wipe them and sautee them in a thin film of olive oil over fierce heat.
I always hear that you should not wash them, and that you should on no account crowd the pan. But you know what? I find that mushrooms are pretty forgiving. Sure, when you put too many in the pan they steam, and give off a lot of water, but if you keep them in there and turn them from time to time that water evaporates and leaves you with crusty golden mushrooms, so you´re ok, really.
Once they´re I have them on toast, or over a salad, or with a poached egg, or with all of the above. That´s perfect, I think.

With the more usually despised button mushrooms I do exactly the same, except that I give them a little help in the way of dried porcini (soaked)or a spoonful of miso, some garlic and parsley and pepper, a dash of sherry, and if they still seem to be a little wan, a good dollop of butter or cream.
These are great with pretty much anything, from pasta to quesadillas to polenta to buttery long grain rice to scrambled eggs, and they keep very well in the fridge for a couple of days, so you can make a big batch and them pull them out as needed.


On holiday

Dear readers,
I´m still in Spain, enjoying the tail end of the gazpacho season, being spoilt with jabugo breakfasts and catching up with friends and family while my babies are off my hands. So it´s kind of busy, and I can´t really do a proper post. But let me say, before I forget, again, that changing the look of my blog so it shows the followers has been on my list of to do things for ages, and that I will do it one day, hopefully. For now, all I can say is a great "thank you", and I wish I could give you all a big hug, and I will someday get it together and brave the "change template" button.


Cleaning out the fridge

Jueves,antes De Volar, originally uploaded by Lobstersquad.

We're going home tomorrow, and before you can see those red tail lights heading for Spain, the fridge needs to be emptied. which means indulgence; blueberries with custard, risotto with lots of leeks and chicken, s frittata tonight with all the scraps of cheese and spring onions. and those beautiful chanterelles a friend has just given me.
And a picnic for tomorrow, to sustain us through the long hours of travelling with two babies.
but for now, all is calm; they're both asleep and I can enjoy my mint tea and the Times' Thursday food supplement.


Storing potatoes

Now, I don´t know if this is going to sound like I´m the biggest idiot, but anyway.

I never got why potatoes were always referred to as a "store cupboard ingredient", because my potatoes always seemed to sprout within seconds of my bringing them home. So I´d only ever buy a few, and then only with some specific dish in mind.

But now I know better. I found out reading this book "Just like mother used to make", and it´s not that great, really, a sort of poor man´s "The Prawn Cocktail Years", which is fantastic, but still, it opened my eyes. The chapter on potatoes begins by saying that supermarkets sell potatoes washed and bagged in plastic, and store them under bright lights, and that potatoes are only happy when covered in mud and in the dark.

And then I banged my head on the wall. I mean, really, of course! What an idiot! Those winter storage things you hear about, and basements, and everything! Duh. I must have read this a million times and it hasn´t percolated my thick head, or else I haven´t, which would be strange.

So I took the opportunity of buying a great big 5 kg sack of potatoes for next to nothing at the very enticing and friendly farm shop called The Store, and putting them away in a cardboard box on the stairs leading down to our garden.

Now I´m not only happy in the knowledge that my potato needs are being met, but also dangerously vindicated in my impulsive purchase of books I don´t need even remotely, but can´t resist, because, really, how can I, when they cost the same as a capuccino and a croissant at the Coffee House?

I could forgo the croissant, of course, but who am I kidding?

Let me remind you of a fantastic way to cook potatoes, and let me add that you can also slip a few frozen fish fingers in there, which make for a very good sandwich with some tricked out mayo and a few salad leaves or pickles.



It´s out! Another big whopping fat book from Nigella Lawson. Mind you, though it looks as fat as How to Eat it ain´t, because there´s a full spread picture for every recipe, plus the inevitable shots of Nigella looking buxom and ever so slightly  demented. But that´s ok. I don´t mind. I love Nigella, she´s my favourite writer, and I know I´m going to have the best time reading again about risotto and bread pudding and soup. There´s probably not much new in there, but that´s just as it should be; it´s wonderful home food, what she does best.


Pressure cooker tag, and a potato and mussel stew

A reader reminded me to put a sidebar with pressure cooker recipes on the side, so I have.

Also, to recommend a pressure cooker. I can only do that with the one I have, which is the only one I´ve ever used. It´s not a very informed opinion, but for what it´s worth, I think the WMF Perfect is the bee´s knees. I have the 6,5 litre model and pine for a 3 litre one too. I can´t quite justify that, as it´s an expensive piece of crockery, but it´s so useful and so great that I might someday. The big model is great for soups and stocks and beans, since you can´t fill it up to the brim, but for rice, or a flan, it might me more comfortable to use a pot that´s not so heavy.

So there.

As for a recipe, here´s one for a simple mussel and potato stew. It takes about fifteen minutes total time to put together, which is pretty impressive for something so satisfying. The beauty of it is that the rythms are perfectly synched. One thing leads to another so there´s no waiting around, just some mindless chopping and debearding and then a beautiful dinner.

Dice an onion and sautee it in the pressure cooker, with a smashed garlic clove. Meanwhile, peel and break a few potatoes into rough chunks. Add as spoonful of tomato puree and a splash of white wine (have a glass, do, and if you don´t have wine, do it with beer, or cider), and then the potatoes. Now add water to just cover, salt sparingly, lock it, bring it up to pressure and when it´s up, count five minutes.

In this time, about seven minutes, you can clean a kilo of mussels. When the five minutes are up, bring the pressure down with cold water and throw the mussels into the pot. Cover but don´t lock and give it a couple of minutes, until the mussels are open.

You can scatter some parsley on top, or better still, coriander for a Portuguese touch. I don´t know why but this dish looks Portuguese to me.