Dolly from koolkosherkitchen has asked me to write something for her blog. Which was as flattering as it was intimidating. She envelops her wonderful recipes in the most beautiful stories, not always just about food. I will not be able to live up to the expectations of her readers, I’m afraid. I’m not a food writer, I love cooking but my food-as most things in my life- is extremely simple. However, I thought it’s a good idea to smuggle in something I really love and I’d definitely choose as my last meal.
Mushrooms are one of my favourite things in the world. And I’m not talking about the white cultured ones from the supermarket. Wild mushrooms are beyond competition, there’s no other food with more distinguished-if often acquired, divine flavour.
The process of mushroom picking is true joy in itself. It’s hunting for vegans. The pride of cooking what you’ve found, the elation you feel when you come across a perky family of fat boleti or sunny chanterelles, the healthy happiness of a day well spent.
Of course, being myself, I can’t not add: my dogs like foraging for food much more than I do (they don’t eat mushrooms, naturally, but it has never bothered them).
When I have fresh wild mushrooms, I just clean them (very hard work, they shouldn’t be washed, you wipe them clean with a wet cloth and cut in half to check if the inside is healthy), boil with a bit of salt, rosemary and thyme and fry on vegetable oil with onion. If I have them dried, they need to be soaked for a few hours and then boiled in the soaking water. Newer waste the water. It’s got all the wonderful taste and aroma, so use it for a base for soups, sauces or stews. This simple mushroom and onion combo is good enough to be eaten, but it can be an uplifting feature of many dishes. Put it on toast-you’ll never look at your humble toast in the same way again. Mix with pasta and tofu, add some pepper and chili- amazing, too. Add to buckwheat and you’ll have a super healthy rustic dish. Fry in a wok with some veg of your choice, add some soya sauce: better than any take away -and ready in 5 minutes. Mix with cooked potatoes, mushroom sauce and cheese (vegan for me) and bake: you have a hearty dish for cold winter’s evenings…
I can’t produce proper recipes, I’m a few ingredients, little effort type of a person.
It’s a dog blog, so I can’t not write about dogs. Fortunately, the link is easy to find. Dogs have been used for centuries to ‘hunt’ for mushrooms (and are now often used by the police for finding hallucinogenic ones).
What you need to train your dog to hunt for mushrooms:
a mushroom (in my case a dried boletus),
some treats (Lily a.k.a. food motivated dog) or a squeaky toy (Brian a.k.a. play motivated dog)
First, get the dog interested in mushrooms
Reward when she looks, then when she looks for a longer period, then when the mushroom is hidden-in the garden, on walks, finally in the forest.
My dogs are not ‘working dogs’ (their decision, not mine), so I have to pick my mushroom myself, or just buy them…But it is doable – check here
Disclaimer: if you have never picked mushrooms, find a local foraging group, educate yourself, never pick anything you’re not 100% sure of or just buy Asian cultured mushrooms (they are really cool: some history here )