Foraging for mushrooms is hard work and dangerous but like all hunter gather activities its rewarding as you get to eat what you have laboured over. Before you start going in to the woods at sunrise you need to know what you can and can not pick. With mushrooms one mistake and it could be the last thing you do. Thats why I don’t get up at sunrise and purchase my mushrooms in a supermarket.
Wild mushrooms come in all different shapes, sizes, fresh and dried. The most common mushrooms are chanterelles, ceps, horns of plenty, morels, & hedgehog. Most supermarkets will sell packets of mixed wild mushrooms so you don’t have to set your alarm to get your stash. Don’t forget to clean your mushrooms with a dry brush (you don’t want to eat mud).
Dried mushrooms come in a tub and have to be rehydrated before eating. Once the mushrooms are rehydrated the liquid is great to use for soups, risottos and stews. Just remember to squeeze the liquid out before you cook them.
Short crust pastry is the most simple pastry to make. The ratio/recipe for short crust pastry is half fat to plain flour so if you use 500g plain flour you use 250g butter. You can then use cold water or egg yolks to finish.
One of my favourite recipes for using wild mushrooms is in a tart. The soft texture of the mushrooms combined with a crisp pastry crust make it a must have for lunch time, picnics or a light meal with a salad.
For the Pastry
500g Plain flour
25g Parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt
For the Filling
400g Wild mushrooms chopped (substitute with field if needed)
1 Red onion diced
2 Garlic cloves
1 Egg yolk
150ml Double cream
50g Parmesan cheese
10ml Olive oil
Mix the butter, flour, salt and parmesan to a fine crumb. Add the water and bring to a dough (don’t over mix the pastry). Cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Roll out the dough between two pieces of greaseproof paper (this will stop the need to use flour and dry out the dough). Line your pastry case with the pastry and place back in the fridge for half an hour. remove from the fridge and prick with a folk, line with baking beans and bake for 25 minutes and 180°c until just golden. Remove the baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.
Tip – Leave an overhang of pastry over the side of the pastry case, this will stop the pastry shrinking.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan. Sweat down the red onion and garlic (try not to burn the garlic) until cooked. Add your mushrooms to the pan and cook until soft. Drain off the liquid. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks. Add the cream, chives, parmesan, salt & pepper and pour in to the pastry case. Bake at 150°c until the egg mixture sets.