Friday, April 2, 2010
mushroom tangle, barley greens & plumble
I recently discovered that the Preston Market is open on Friday nights 'til 8pm. This means that if I get out of work on time and don't dally about, I can make it to the market by around 6pm, pick up some fresh vegetables and tidbits for the weekend, and not have to deal with the soul-testing, all-encompassing throng of market-goers that descend on the place on a Saturday morning. It also means that I can make a delicious meal to celebrate Friday evening with pretty much any ingredient I've been distracted by dreaming about all day at work that day. Last Friday, I had been daydreaming about mushrooms. (Really - who daydreams about mushrooms? Is that a common occurence? I assume other people daydream about things like pina coladas on tropical islands and adventurous holidays to far off places and meeting cool people at hot parties and what not. But I'm sitting there in the office thinking about shiitakes. Strange or not? Let me know.)
Anyway, at the market I got a bunch of spinach, 3/4 kilo of dark red plums, enoki mushrooms, black fungus mushrooms (dried, from the Asian grocery store), field mushrooms, another Asian mushroom I don't know the name of (pictured below, right, next to the enokis - can you tell me the name if you know it) and some dried shiitakes.
What resulted was a sumptuous, buttery tangle of fungus, which I served with a barley risotto strewn with a whole bunch of spinach. The mushrooms were indescribably richly flavoured, overwhelmingly umami, meaty and moreish. The barley served as a filling and subtle sidedish to balance out the richness of the mushrooms.
As many different types of mushrooms as you like, chopped, soaked if dried, I used:
1 handful of dried shiitakes, soaked in boiling water for 15 mins
1 handful of black fungus, soaked in boiling water for 15 mins and chopped finely
1 large field mushroom, sliced
1 packet of enokis, base chopped off and separated into strings
a bunch of another Asian mushroom (name pending!), separated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Prepare all mushrooms for frying. Add half the butter to the pan and melt on high heat. Add in mushrooms, one variety at a time, stirring well. Fry, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through and wilted. Stir through soy sauce and other half of butter, turn off heat. Sprinkle with white pepper. Serve with barley greens. Serves 2-4, depending on love of mushrooms.
1 bunch spinach, washed, separated into leaves
1 cup barley
2 cloves sliced garlic
1 vegetable stock cube
1 teaspoon oil
Soak the barley in boiling water half an hour in advance. Have a kettle of boiled water nearby. Heat the oil in a large pot (one that has a lid) and stir in the barley. Add the garlic, crushed stock cube and some black pepper and stir. Add hot water, one cup at time, stirring well whilst it soaks into the barley and evaporates (similar to making a risotto). Once the barley is almost soft, stir in the spinach and a little extra water and turn off the heat. Put the lid on the pot and leave for 5 minutes whilst the spinach steams in the heat of the barley. Take lid off and stir well. Serves 2 - 4.
As dessert had been requested for the evening, I made an easy crumble with the plums - simply core and slice the plums into quarters (I used about 5 plums / 750 g), put them in a baking dish and stir in a couple of tablespoons of soft brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. In a pan, melt around 40 grams of butter, cook until brown. Stir in a cup of oats. Spoon oat and butter mixture over plums and then cook in a 200 degree C oven for around half an hour (or until plums are saucy and soft and oats are brown).
Serves 4. Andrew gave this the wonderful name, Plumble. I was too busy devouring the sticky, unctuous red sauce that the plums had exuded at the time to notice. Apparently he said it about 5 times before I looked up and giggled about it. Welcome, Plumble! I will be making you again.