Sorry if you clicked it, thinking it was about the NZ soccer team.
This photo was taken at the beginning of my holiday and the last week I hardly saw a blue sky. Just around the corner and behind the house is a grassy space with laundry lines and walnut trees.
One day we took a walk in the woods, looking for mushrooms, but we didn’t find any. Alas, we stumbled upon a sight of mushrooms spread widely across the grass. These were the most beautiful looking mushrooms I’d seen. They are called Petit Gris due to the grey colour.
While Cyrille was looking for information to make sure they were edible, though he was 99% sure, because he had another life at risk, ME, I cleaned the mushrooms by just shaking off the soil and grass. Last time we experienced that mushrooms had been left uncooked bred hundreds of wiggly creatures overnight. So this time we cooked them right away even though we didn’t plan to eat them that night. These mushrooms contained a lot of water in them and had to be boiled down over high heat with a little garlic and butter for a long time, about half an hour, if my memory serves me right.
The full bag of mushrooms was reduced to the amount of medium-bowl. We kept it in the fridge and cook with it two days later. I thought, thought, and thought, what should I make? Mushroom gratin? Too cliché. Mushroom pasta? Too much carbs. Mushroom omelette? Too conventional. Hmm….
Ok, mushroom risotto then. It will be suitable for the weather. But I don’t like rice. I digged in the pantry to find an alternative and found wild black and red rice. Black rice alone will be too black so I mixed both. Rice was just additional as we both are on a protein diet. It was incredibly delicious and fed us for two days.
I cooked this with duck fat and just water but conventional risotto recipe requires a liquid stock. I often add white wine into mushroom risotto but I didn’t this time and later learned that certain types of mushrooms don’t agree with alcohol and can become poisnous. Did you know that? I learn something every time I cook with different people.
As an extra pleasure, I fancied a tiny appetizer and also wanted to brighten up the colour of the plate, which could have been just all blacks‘ playground. So I came up with this idea of cheese potato fritters. I was making crispy Parmesan fritters back in old days as a fancy serving bowl for salad after seeing it in a cafe in Sydney. I wasn’t sure if it’d work with Comte cheese.
I grated potatoes and cheese, and spontaneously decided to add an apple as I saw the lovely green apples I picked up from a garden. The mixture sounds good. So I carried on tossing them all together with a pinch of nutmeg and black pepper. This time, instead of grilling it in the oven, I cooked in the pan as I found a perfect size only to realise it wasn’t crispening. I think it was because of the juice coming out from the apple, but the taste was great.
Normally fritters are made with eggs and flour, but my fritters are simple. Of course, I can add eggs, flour, milk, breadcrumbs and what not like in conventional fritters, but extra ingredients mean more oil and from cooking French, I’ve learned the art of simplicity. Actually I’m reluctant to call these fritters but I will leave it at that until I find a better name for it.
I thought it’d be good with the main. In my head, I pictured a crispy cheesy bowl holding the risotto. Duh!
In old days, I used to keep a recipe diary where I jotted down all the ideas that came into my head. I think I should start doing it again. This is an ancient recipe book, about 6 years old?
The pages toward the back are full of bread recipes that I tried. This notebook has been with me throughout my travels but has been forgotten about for the last two years and I just fished it out of the dresser, just now to show it to you – yes, I think of recipes while putting on make-up. In fact, I don’t spend money on clothes and cosmetics as other women do. My legs always drag me to food markets rather than clothing stores.
Now that I’ve developed more visual memory, I will start a new recipe book full of colours and pictures. That will be very useful especially when I live in countries where languages other than English are spoken.
Again, here comes the cheese board. As the theme is mushroom, fungi, I have cheeses covered with most mushrooms. Do you see the leftover cheeses are getting smaller and smaller each day? Can you name these cheeses? If you’ve forgotten, check the previous post.
I’m getting to like this cheese, Le Clabitou, now. The aged Tomme de Brebis (third from left) I got from a farmer’s market was pretty good, too.
It’s almost obscene, isn’t it? It’s an absolute cheese-garsm. Guess what? These cheeses flew with me to Istanbul. Ha ha! These cheeses stained my suitcase and clothes in it with stinky smell, let alone making the airport check-in staff frown and pinch their noses.
Mushroom Risotto with Wild Rice
Ingredients (serves 4)
wild mushrooms (portobello, petit gris, etc) that can be stained
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10g butter+20g for cooking mushrooms
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
2 cups black rice, or black and red rice, half and half
3 cups stock, chicken or vegetable
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh cream (optional)
sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
a handful of parsley, thyme or herbs of your choice
1. Cook the mushrooms in a pan with garlic, butter and a little sea salt. Keep them aside.
2. In a large pot, sautee the onion with butter (or duck fat) and add rice, and turn up the heat and add wine and stir till the liquid is dried out while sticking your nose as close to the pot as you can without getting burnt.
3. Pour in the stock and season with a little salt and pepper, and cook with the lid on for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.
4. When rice is cooked, add cream, butter and cheese and stir it to mix. Depending on the consistency, add more water.
5. Finally, throw in the mushrooms and parsley and other herbs and gently mix through. Serve immediately.
NB: If using normal risotto rice, pour in the boiling stock one scoop at a time to achieve al dente. And when serving, place a slice of lemon to squeeze over the risotto depending on people’s preference.
Simple Potato Apple Comte Fritters
Ingredients (makes 5-6 medium size)
3 potatoes, grated
1 apple, grated
150g Comte, grated
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 egg yolk and 1 Tbsp flour (optional)
1. In a bowl, mix the all the ingredients thoroughly.
2. Heat the pan and brush it with a little oil – I didn’t need any oil after the first fritter since fat comes out from the cheese.
3. Cook it over low-medium heat slowing until the potatoes are cooked and browned.
4. Serve it on its own or with fruit jelly.
NB: You can cook in small sizes and use them as a substitute for canape bread for a snack or appetizer.
- Don’t Rush the Mushroom Risotto with Black Cod and Beurre Blanc (awinkandapinch.wordpress.com)
- forest mushroom risotto (2redpeppers.wordpress.com)
- My Epic Mushroom Hunting Haul and a Recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto (blogher.com)