Summer took its time, yesterday I wore my first sundress of the season! But who cares about sundresses when we can have mushrooms? One of the advantages of lots of damp weather followed by the glorious warmth of the past few days is the massive growth in fungi in the woods.
The first was the chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), one of the few edible bracket fungi.
Then the boletes (Boletus sp.) and puffballs (Lycoperdon perlatum)
As with all foraging only collect what you know and can positively identify. After many years of foraging there are only a handful of mushrooms I will pick unless I am on a formal course/led walk. These are boletes, chanterelles, jelly ear, puffball and shaggy ink cap. There are plenty of others I am fairly confident in identifying but it is too easy to be confident and wrong so I leave them be. The most useful advice I have ever been given, by a professional forager and chef, is to learn one mushroom at a time. Learn everything you can about it until you can identify it and explain why you can identify it and distinguish it from any other potentially inedible or poisonous mushroom and then, and only then, start to learn about another one. The same advice works well for any plant you might forage from aerial parts to berries to roots.
Many of the boletes have been sliced and popped in the dehydrator for use throughout the year.
But when there is an abundance of fresh fungi then you can be sure it will be on the dinner table.
The boletes and puffballs were just sliced and fried in seasoned butter with lots of garlic.
Delicious, but not quite as utterly yummy as the chicken of the woods. A solid and meaty fungus with a strong, very chickeny flavour, it is one of my favourites. Today I chopped it into large bite sized pieces.
Dipped into beaten egg and then seasoned flour with lots of paprika. Fried in butter it is hard to stop sneaky fingers stealing it straight from the pan.
A friend also suggests frying larger pieces without the egg and flour coating and then covering with grated cheese and popping under the grill. It also pickles very well, holding its shape and flavour (use a lightly seasoned vinegar with with additional sugar and maybe some thyme and oregano).
Love Gillie x
There is nothing like a mango, nothing that I can know. With apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II. One of the many, many bonuses of being in SE Asia is the proliferance of mangoes. Back home we usually only have two choices of mango (Kent and Keitt) both of which are relatively bland compared to the huge choice available across Asia. Mango is sold on almost every street corner in Thailand, chopped up in little bags with convenient little wooded sticks to avoid getting your fingers sticky. As the girls will confirm, any attempt to prevent my fingers getting sticky and dribbling food down my front is bound to fail. I am the messiest eater I know. As a result when travelling and needing a snack to keep me going I avoided the fresh variety and instead stocked up on dried mango. The only problem was that I could eat an entire family sized bag in one sitting, and frequently did!
The good news is that it is now possible to get other varieties of Mango in the UK. One option is to seek out your local specialist Indian supermarket or if you live in Durham the wonderful Robinsons Greengrocers on North Road, but if you are in a specialist shop desert you can find some delicious Pakistani and Indian mangoes in some of the larger supermarkets and I am reliably informed that Thai mangoes will be available this year too. Get hunting mango lovers.
However, dried mango is readily available and to maintain my mango fix without dribbling down my front I made these yummy mango balls from Madeleine Shaw’s Ready Steady Glow
- 200g dried mango
- grated zest of one lime
- 180g desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- sesame seeds for rolling
Soak the mango in water for half an hour or so and drain. I kept the water and put it in my water bottle for the next day.
Add the mango to the rest of the ingredients and blitz in a food processor.
Mould into bite-size balls and roll in the sesame seeds. Keep in the fridge for as long as you can!
Next time I may pass on the sesame seeds or perhaps toast them first as I didn’t think they added all that much and they kept sticking between my teeth. But the wonderful thing about this kind of recipe is the total adaptability. Swap mango for dried apricots, swap coconut for chopped nuts (I’ve tried apricot and pistachio – you can see the little green squares on the left of the top photo – they were delicious and as you can see there are only a few left!)
Love Gillie x