Lobster Mushroom with Pasta

The Lobster Mushroom is, obviously, bright reddish orange like the shell of cooked lobster. Not obvious is the fact that it’s actually a parasite that grows on certain mushrooms, making the host completely invisible and even changing its structure and taste. If you slice a lobster mushroom, you’ll see a beautiful red skin, as if the host mushroom is sprayed.
The taste of the Lobster Mushroom depends on the host. The ones we bought tasted fairly bland, but nevertheless the pasta turned out to be very tasteful and uplifting, partly due to the homemade tomato confit.

Wine Pairing

Enjoy a glass of white wine with your Lobster Mushrooms. We drank a Portuguese Vinho Verde, made by Cazas Novas. It comes with floral and fruit notes, has some acidity and a medium body with a good texture and a fresh aftertaste. In general you’re looking for a wine with freshness, minerality and some acidity. A wine that will go well with the intense flavors of the tomato confit and the creamy mushroom pasta.

What You Need

  • 100 grams of Lobster Mushroom
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • 1 Bunch of Udon
  • 10 Small Tomatoes (confit or roasted)
  • Stock (Chicken, Veal or Vegetable)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper

What You Do

Clean the Lobster Mushroom. This is a bit time consuming due to the structure of the mushroom. Slice the shallot and the garlic. Strip the leaves of the thyme. In a large iron skillet gently fry the shallot in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic. After a few minutes add the sliced lobster mushroom (chunks). Add the thyme. Leave on low heat. In parallel cook the udon for 10 minutes or until ready. Drain the udon but keep some of the cooking liquid. Add stock, just to have more liquid in the pan. Add the tomatoes, mix gently. Now add the udon to the pan, mix, making sure the tomatoes remain intact. Add cooking liquid to get the right consistency. Finish with a splash of excellent olive oil, black pepper and finely grated Parmesan Cheese.

  • Lobster Mushroom with Pasta ©cadwu
  • Lobster Mushroom ©cadwu

Duck with Soy Sauce and Mushrooms

In his book Yamazato, Kaiseki Recipes: Secrets of the Japanese Cuisine, author and Michelin Award winning chef Akira Oshima includes a recipe for breast of duck, marinated in a soy-based sauce, served with Belgian endive (chicory) and karashi (Japanese mustard). A mouth-watering dish. The book contains some 20 recipes that are technically challenging (at least, we think so) and well written.

In general the combination of duck and soy sauce works really well. It’s all about sweetness and umami. The Japanese mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, nameko and/or shimeji) add nuttiness and texture to the dish.
We use soy sauce and tsuyu: a mix of soy sauce, mirin and dashi, ideal for making a tempura dip and great to give extra flavor to the sauce.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our duck with a glass of gewurztraminer (full bodied and long lasting with aromas of lychees and roses) but there are many options in this case. Perhaps a nice rosé or a sake with a touch of sweetness?

What You Need

  • Breast of Duck
  • Japanese Mushrooms
  • Soy Sauce (preferably with less salt)
  • Tsuyu
  • Chicken Stock
  • (Olive) Oil
  • Mirin
  • (optional) Sake

What You Do

Start by cleaning the breast of duck and then fry it, straight from the fridge, for 12 minutes on the skin-side and 2 minutes on the meat-side in a non-stick pan. Wrap in foil, making sure the skin is not covered. Clean the pan with kitchen paper and fry the sliced mushrooms for 5 minutes or so in oil until ready. Set aside and keep warm. Add soy sauce, tsuyu and chicken stock to the pan and reduce. Add a splash of sake and some mirin. Add cooking liquid of the duck. Let simmer for a few minutes, add the mushrooms and make sure they are coated with the sauce. Slice the duck, add liquid to the sauce, stir and serve.

Duck with Soy Sauce and Mushrooms ©cadwu
Duck with Soy Sauce and Mushrooms ©cadwu

Saint George’s Mushroom with Pasta

Spring brings us several edible or even delicious mushrooms, such as the Mushroom of Saint GeorgeMorels and the Fairy Ring Mushroom.

The mushroom of Saint George (Calocybe gambosa) is usually the first edible mushroom to appear. Its name derives from St George’s Day, 23rd April, by which date it can be found in the UK. Its French and Italian name (for instance Tricholome de la Saint-Georges in France) also refer to this day. Its Dutch name (Voorjaarspronkridder) and its Swedish name (Vårmusseron meaning spring mushroom) refer to the fact that the mushroom is available for a short period only.

Famous chef and author Jane Grigson isn’t a fan of the mushroom. In her classic book The Mushroom Feast she writes “I have omitted one or two which our mushroom books follow each other in praising too highly. One of these is the Saint George’s Mushroom.” 

Perhaps because the smell is so rare? Some say the mushroom smells of cucumber; others say melon rind or refer to a mealy scent. We think it’s more like overripe zucchini or even ghee that is a bit offish. In all cases, a not-very-pleasant-smell to remember. The good news is that the smell disappears as soon as you heat the mushrooms.

The mushroom of Saint George is clearly a spring-mushroom, but we think that you will have some reminiscence of autumn when eating this dish. A hint of earthiness. Intense but not overwhelming. However, the combination of ramson and Saint George’s mushroom is 100% spring.

Confused? Perhaps that’s part of the fun of eating Saint George’s mushroom.

Wine Pairing

We suggest an oaked chardonnay, for instance Domaine De La Prade from the Languedoc region in France. The wine has a pale, yellow colour, aromas of ripe tropical fruit and its taste is intense, buttery and comes with a touch of oak. The wine has a long lasting taste. 

Feel free to go for a US or Australian Chardonnay. A full-bodied, gently oaked chardonnay will go very well with the mushroom and the udon.

What You Need

  • 1 bunch of Udon
  • 150 grams of Saint George’s Mushroom
  • Fresh Ramson (5 Leaves and Flowers)
  • Chicken Stock
  • Black Pepper
  • Crème Fraîche
  • 4 Slices of Excellent Pancetta
  • Olive Oil

What You Do

Clean the mushrooms with kitchen paper and if necessary clean the stems with a sharp knife. Slice the pancetta in small slices. Heat a heavy iron skillet, add olive oil and quickly fry the pancetta. Transfer to a plate with kitchen paper and keep in the oven on 60° Celsius or 140° Fahrenheit. Slice the mushrooms, fry them gently in the pan and reduce the heat. Add chicken stock. Add some crème fraiche. In parallel cook the udon for 10 minutes. Drain the udon and keep some of the cooking liquid. Add the udon to the mushrooms in the pan, add black pepper and stir gently, making sure all pasta is covered. Add some cooking liquid to make sure it’s nice and moist. Add the pancetta and the sliced leaves (lengthwise, remove the vein) of ramson, mix and serve immediately. Decorate with a ramson flower.

  • Saint George's Mushroom with Pasta ©cadwu
  • Saint George's Mushroom with Pasta - Ingredients ©cadwu
  • Saint George's Mushroom ©cadwu
  • Domaine La Prade Chardonnay ©cadwu

Roulade of Pheasant with Mushrooms and Steamed White Cabbage

A Challenging Bird

Pheasant is not the simplest bird to prepare. It is too big to take the approach we prefer for partridge and it’s too low in fat to create a Faisan Rôti. The choice is between applying bacon on the outside and stuffing the bird. Both are not among our favourites: the bacon will overwhelm the taste of the pheasant and an old fashioned stuffing with chestnut, sausage meat, butter and onions is simply too much for us: we prefer a light, tasty cuisine. Our approach is to make a small roulade using the breast of pheasant. This is probably the driest part of the bird, but combining the meat with mushrooms will make it tender and moist. The mushrooms and thyme in the roulade support the delicate game-taste of the pheasant, making it into a most enjoyable dish for November and December.
Duxelles is an essential element of a Beef Wellington. We make a variation by using mushrooms, butter and thyme only. We don’t want the mushrooms too finely chopped, see picture, but feel free to give it more of a duxelles texture.
The right internal temperature for pheasant is between 60° and 65° Celsius (between 140° and 150° Fahrenheit). Best is to set your meat thermometer to 60° Celsius and allow the roulade to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This way the meat will be lovely pink.

Wine Pairing

Both red and white are possible. The wine should not be too powerful, given the delicate taste of the pheasant. If you go for white, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are a good choice. Given the white cabbage with cumin Riesling is also a nice idea. If red, then we would suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.

What You Need

  • 2 Fillets of Pheasant
  • For the Duxelles
    • 150 grams of (Chestnut) Button Mushrooms
    • 50 grams of Porcini
    • Thyme
    • Butter
    • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • For the Vegetables
    • White cabbage
    • Cumin
    • Excellent Olive oil

What You Do

Clean and chop the mushrooms and add to a warm pan with butter. The idea is to reduce the volume of the mushrooms but not to fry them. This may take 20 minutes. Halfway add the thyme. Take two sheet of foil and put one below a fillet and one on top. The former skin side of the breast should be visible. We use a small bottle to flatten the fillet. This does not require a lot of strength and be careful not to create holes in the meat. You’re looking for doubling the size, so not as thin as the veal for a Wiener Schnitzel or a Scaloppini a la Milanese. Now figure out how to combine the two flattened fillets, making sure you have some overlap. Spread the mushrooms on top, roll it up and create the roulade. Wrap it in foil and transfer to the refrigerator, allowing for the flavours to integrate and the roulade to set.
Heat your oven to 120° Celsius (250° Fahrenheit). Warm a heavy iron pan, add some olive oil and gently colour the roulade. Then transfer to the oven, add some butter and wait until the centre has reached 60° Celsius. When the roulade is ready, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest. Make a sauce of the cooking juices, mustard, crème fraiche and perhaps some chicken stock. Steam the cabbage for five minutes, add excellent olive oil and crushed cumin seeds and mix. Add the sauce to a warm plate, slice the roulade and serve with the cabbage.

Londonderry Soup

A Long Time Ago

Sunday afternoon, my mother in the kitchen, asking us what we would like to eat as a starter. Would we like vegetable soup with broken vermicelli or Londonderry soup? My favourite! Londonderry soup! Monday meant school but Sunday was all about Londonderry Soup!
My mother seemed less keen to prepare Londonderry soup because, depending on the chili and the curry, it could be too spicy to her taste. The vegetable soup was more predictable.
As always in life, things change. I moved to another city, she became less interested in cooking and so here we are today: I haven’t tasted the soup for years. Time to start cooking.
The Londonderry soup I tasted as a child seems to be a Dutch and Belgium phenomenon. And a rather undefined one. Some use veal stock, others chicken. Some add mushrooms, others rice. Also used are chili, sambal, cayenne pepper, parsley, egg, meat balls et cetera. And to make things even more confusing, in the UK it’s known as a pea soup. Which is not at all what my mother used to prepare. Plus no-one seems to know what the origin is of the name.
So we decided to follow the recipe my mother included in her ‘kookschrift’, which is a notebook with recipes she learned as a young woman.

What You Need

  • Light Stock (Veal or Chicken)
  • A Shallot
  • Curry
  • Chili
  • Equal amount of Flower and Butter
  • Button Mushrooms
  • Single Cream

What You Do

Start by glazing the chopped shallot in butter. Add the chili (my mother used 4 small slices, but feel free to use more!) and the curry. The curry should be spicy and powerful. Make sure the curry is fried, allowing for the flavors to develop. Now add the flour and start making a roux. Add the warm stock, step by step, take your time, and create the soup. Leave it for 15 minutes to integrate. In parallel gently fry the very small mushrooms (so called button mushrooms). Pass the soup through a sieve. Use a spoon to get the flavors of the shallot and the chili. The soup should be completely smooth.
Now things become unclear in my mother’s recipe. She suggests adding white wine just before serving (which will add acidity plus the taste of alcohol which is not great) or single milk or cream. Milk will only weaken the taste of the curry. Cream however will give a velvety feeling on your lips when tasting the soup, which is great in combination with the spicy curry. So we added a touch of single cream, left the soup for 5 minutes on low heat, allowing for the cream to cook. Just before serving add the gently colored button mushrooms.

Thanks Mum!

Antonio Carluccio

Inspiration

Sadly Antonio Carluccio passed away this week on Wednesday November 8th 2017. To us he has been a true inspiration, especially when it comes to mushrooms. Thanks to him we started to explore a wide variety of mushrooms, such as Ceaser’s mushrooms and Pied Blue. His books on mushrooms showed us the world beyond the classics mushroom recipes. Every year we prepare his oysters with sabayon and white truffle. Pure magic.

Carluccio also showed us that you need to be a chef to create Michelin star worthy food, and that you need to be a decent cook to create tasty and healthy daily food. A combination of olives, pancetta, cheese, artichokes and a glass of red wine is a great way to start your meal and will only take you a bit of shopping and 5 minutes to present the food. And reading his books: you can learn how to be a decent cook.

MoF MoF

He said his motto was “mof mof” – minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour. No doubt a lot of hard work is required to reach that level, but let us assure you: it’s a great motto for daily cooking.