Tag Archives: porcini

Crab, chilli and grapefruit salad and unfortunate associations

crabsalad

I used to hate grapefruit until my friend, Lucie, recently put me straight. One of the things I love about Lucie is her enormously resolute talent for ‘putting people straight’; now I’m Team Grapefruit, especially if served with crab. Crab and grapefruit is a marriage made in heaven, even more so with a bit of chilli for ‘zing’. I am big on harmonious combinations and for me one of the biggest culinary sins is the confounding Surf ‘n’ Turf. When I’m trying to decide if two ingredients will go together, I think about their natural habitats and how far-fetched it would seem for them to find themselves on the same plate. Lobster and beef? I don’t think so. As we plunge headlong into cep (porcini) season, I find myself once again skating on thin ice. Given the chance, my reckless anarchist of a husband will happily add ceps to absolutely everything. I sometimes have to resort to my ‘Flavour Thesaurus‘ to convince him that ceps and chocolate, coconut or crab do not, in fact, make for a palatable union.

Crab is a healthy source of protein, calcium, magnesium and selenium and grapefruit is rich in vitamins A and C. This fresh and fragrant salad is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 pink grapefruits

200 g white crabmeat (I used tinned)

1 tomato, chopped

2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

6 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 handfuls crispy green salad

Carefully peel and segment the grapefruits. Place the crabmeat in a bowl with a tablespoon of grapefruit juice, the chopped chilli, basil leaves, salt and pepper and olive oil. Mix well. Add the salad and tomato to the bowl with the grapefruit segments, add a little more olive oil and salt and pepper, tossing well. Arrange the mixed salad and grapefruit segments in a bowl with the crab over the top. Sprinkle the remaining basil leaves and serve.

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Perfectly scrambled eggs with porcini and smoked salmon

We have just arrived back from a busy and exciting trip to London (where I got some great food ideas – watch this space), but I appear to have returned minus my cooking mojo. It’s amazing how quickly my default-to-lazy kicks in. I couldn’t think what to cook for lunch today and might even have resorted to opening a tin of something if I’d had one to hand #shockhorror 😉 My husband solved the problem by disappearing into the woods and proudly returning with yet another kilo of porcini (yawn). I just about managed to rustle up this plate of Scottish smoked salmon (far and away the best!) and scrambled eggs with porcini, chilli peppers and garlic; a truly eclectic dish! Lėo, my son, on seeing this exclaimed ‘oh great: a picnic lunch!’ He has never yet been known to lose his cheekiness mojo…

Ingredients (serves two)

1 mushroom-obsessed husband. Failing that, a farmers’ market will do.

20g butter

2 medium-size porcini mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 chilli pepper, finely sliced

4 large organic eggs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk gently until well combined. Add the seasoning. Fry the sliced mushrooms, garlic and chilli pepper in the half of the butter in a heavy-based saucepan until soft (roughly ten minutes). Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir briskly with a wooden spoon or fork. It’s extremely important to make sure that the egg doesn’t cook too quickly, or overcook to avoid it becoming dry and flaky. Keep the heat low. Once the egg is almost cooked, remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Continue to stir with the wooden spoon – the eggs will finish cooking in the heat remaining in the pan. Serve immediately with smoked salmon and a green salad.

Ceps in the country (and unhinged Frenchmen)

When it comes to mushrooms, the French become homicidal maniacs. Though only when it comes to mushrooms, of course 😉  My husband is a case in point. Last year, before he’d got ‘into’ mushrooms and ceps (also called king bolete or porcini) in particular, he announced that anyone mushrooming on our land was more than welcome to keep whatever they found. Our land was there for  everyone – for the greater good, blah, blah, blah. Well not anymore. No siree.

The greater good pitch vanished the moment we discovered how best to cook and savour them. We now have tacky signs up everywhere saying, roughly translated, ‘Cep bugulars get out!’, ‘Steal our ceps at your own peril!’, ‘Beware! ferocious cep-guarding dog’… During The Season, he gets up at the crack of mushroom dawn and skulks out into the half-light, a rifle over his shoulder. OK, I’m making the rifle bit up, but he definitely would if he owned one.

Mocking aside, ceps really are worth it; they have a deep, earthy, woody taste and are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and selenium. They can mostly be found in the early Autumn under mature trees such as spruce, pine, hemlock, birch and oak. Just don’t come looking for them on our land 😉

Ceps fried with garlic and parsley

Ingredients :

Fresh ceps

Olive oil

Butter

Garlic, chopped

Rock salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley, chopped

Any earth or sand clinging to the ceps should be brushed off gently with soft-bristle brush.  Avoid rincing in water if possible. They should then be cut with a very sharp knife (to avoid bruising) into half centimetre slices. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan – there should be enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan easily. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the ceps. Cook for seven minutes on each side – the white flesh should become golden brown. Add the chopped garlic and parsley two minutes before the end of cooking.

In my opinion, the best way to eat ceps prepared in this way is on their own or perhaps with a plain omelette. They go nicely with green salad and some crusty French bread.