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Mushroom Feast

by Bo Simmons -

At this time of year when my children Sophie and Peter were small we used to pass the time on the drive out of Lerwick by playing spot the Mushroom in the nearby fields and roadside. We always had a plastic bag in the car for our trophies. It has certainly paid off as a couple of weeks ago we were driving home and Peter said: "Hey stop mum, did you see those mushrooms." So I reversed the car and he hopped over a fence and gathered an enormous hoard of horse mushrooms, some the size of dinner plates!

So, I thought it was a good opportunity to take a couple of pictures and write a few words before we got down to the serious business of eating them. Now I will say that the horse and field mushrooms are the only ones that I find on a regular basis, that are suitable for eating in Shetland.

In the past a friend has found Shaggy ink caps and they are utterly delicious when eaten at the right time, that is before they start to drip their ink.

It reminded me of the time when we went out to the bothy for a late barbeque and picked some mushrooms on our way. I had taken with me some homemade garlic butter and a little olive oil. On arrival at the bothy we lit a fire in one of the stone circles we have made especially for the purpose. While we were waiting for the fire to get going we prepared all the other food, then found the old grill rack and popped the mushrooms, with their garlic butter and a drizzle of olive oil on it and placed them over the fire. After about 15 minutes they were cooked and ready to go. The flavour was sublime, earthy, smokey and garlicky. It is not always easy to go out for a walk, make a fire and eat alfresco, so i will give you a recipe for another favourite way of eating these magnificent mushrooms, but cooking them at home in your oven.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Course: Main

Servings: 4 people

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20minutes

  • Mushrooms - 4 large
  • Olive oil - 3 tbsp
  • Shallots - 2 whole
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Fresh breadcrumbs - 2 handfuls
  • Fresh oregano - 1 sprig
  • Fresh thyme - 1 sprig
  • Flat leaf parsley - 1 good handful
  • Shetland butter - 50 grams
  1. Check the mushrooms for any bugs and brush off soil and grasses! Remove the stalks and any broken mushrooms and put to one side. Do not wash as this makes the mushroom soggy. Place them in a large roasting tin, drizzle a little olive oil over each one.
  2. Finely chop the 2 shallots and garlic. Heat 1 tbls olive oil in a saute pan and add the shallot and garlic. Put a lid on the pan and sweat to soften.
  3. Finely chop the stalks and broken pieces of mushroom and add to shallot mixture, cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs
  5. Chop all the herbs together and add to mixture. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Divide the mixture roughly into 4 and pile on top of each mushroom. Top with a little dot of butter and pop into the oven on 190c gas mark 5 for 15-20 minutes.

The mushrooms can be served as a starter, as an accompaniment to a main meal.

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For a more substantial meal for vegetarians i will post a mushroom moussaka. A great dish for non vegetarians too and an all time hit with the family.

Mushroom Moussaka

Course: Main

Servings: 8 people

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

  • Aubergines - 3 medium
  • Mushrooms - 1 kilo (sliced)
  • Shetland butter - 100 grams
  • Onion - 1 large (chopped)
  • Garlic - 2 cloves (crushed)
  • Tomato puree - 200 grams
  • Parsley - 100 grams (chopped)
  • Fresh basil leaves - 1 tbsp (chopped)
  • Fresh oregano - 1 tbsp (chopped)
  • Ground cinnamon - 1-2 tsp
  • Red wine - 125 ml
  • Bread crumbs - 150 grams
  • Parmesan or cheddar - 150 grams (grated)
  • Free range eggs - 4 whole
  • Shetland butter - 125 grams
  • Plain flour - 125 grams
  • Shetland Dairies milk - 500 ml
  • Free range egg yolks - 4
  1. Slice the aubergines about 1 cm thick and place on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled, sprinkle with salt and pop into the oven 190 c /gas 5 for about 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Into a large saucepan that has a lid, melt the first lot of butter and add the onion and garlic pop the lid on and sweat together until they are soft. Add the sliced mushrooms.
  3. Now add tomato puree, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, cinnamon and red wine and cook util the liquid is absorbed.
  4. At this time you can check the aubergines and if they are cooked remove from the oven and put to one side until needed.
  5. Meantime take another saucepan and melt the next lot of butter, add the flour and cook out the roux. Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk, when incorporated put back on to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When sauce has come to the boil turn the heat down and simmer for 2 minutes to cook completely. Remove from the heat and add the 4 egg yolks (save the whites in a separate container as they can be used to make a pavlova another day!)
  6. Now back to the mushroom mixture and if the liquid has been absorbed add the breadcrumbs, cheese and whole eggs.
  7. You are now ready to assemble the moussaka. Find a large ovenproof dish and lay half the aubergines in the bottom, cover with half the mushroom mixture and repeat this. Cover the top with the white sauce (you can at this point add more breadcrumbs and cheese, but i find it unnecessary) place into the oven and bake for 35 minutes covered and a further 15 minutes uncovered.
  8. Sometimes I make the dish with courgettes, or a mixture of both aubergines and courgettes. Breadcrumbs can be replaced with rice or corn crumbs and the flour can be gluten free. Generally I serve it with a large mixed green salad tossed in french dressing.
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