September 22, 2017

Eating the Seasons, Autumn

By Tina Sexton
Eating the Seasons, Autumn

Eating the Seasons, Autumn

Guest Post: Blo Deady, Private Chef

For me, late Summer going into early Autumn is the best time of the year to cook and with good reason. We still have the soft summer fruits, tomatoes and summer vegetables and begin to see the first of the autumn squash, game and my favourite of all, wild mushrooms. 

Few wild mushrooms excite a cook more than porcini, or ceps as they are called in France. Intense, earthy, extraordinary looking and incredibly versatile, they will be expensive at the beginning of the season (normally the beginning of September) but the price drops as the elusive Bolitus Edulis become more plentiful - this is usually after a little rain. 

If you are fortunate enough to have a farmers market or good quality greengrocer nearby and they don’t have any in stock they should be able to order some in for you. Otherwise they are available online – just remember fresh porcini are the star of the show here, dried as great as they are, will not work in these recipes.  

When buying porcini look for a firm stalk and a slightly sticky cap. Check the bottom - if there are lots of tiny holes they will, most certainly, contain little worms. Disregard any that feel too heavy for their size or are wet or spongy.

To clean them do not immerse in water. Instead cut a disk off the very bottom and use a wet paper towel to clean the cap. I keep a toothbrush to clean off any stubborn grit. 

Below are a few my favourite ways to eat fresh porcini. Buon Appetito! 

Pappardelle ai Funghi Porcini 
Serves 4  Ingredients 
Porcini Pasta
  • 350g dried pappardelle 
  • 1 banana shallot, very finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon Thyme (leaves only )
  • 500g fresh porcini, cleaned and roughly chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • 200ml double cream 
  • grated parmesan, to serve 
  • salt and pepper
  • splash of dry white wine 
  1. Cook the garlic, shallots and thyme in a frying pan on a very low heat with the butter and a splash of olive oil until soft but not coloured
  2. Add the chopped porcini, and continue to cook until the mushrooms are golden brown 
  3. Add the wine, increase the temperature a little until most of the liquid has evaporated, add the cream, season with salt and pepper and turn the heat off
  4. Cook the pasta according to the makers instructions, drain but hold back about half a cup of the cooking water 
  5. Add the pasta to the pan with the mushroom mixture, stir to coat the pasta, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if too dry. 
  6. Serve in pasta bowls with plenty of grated Parmsean    


Salad of Raw Porcini, Parmesan and Walnuts 

Serves 4

  • 4 medium sized porcini, cleaned (as above) and sliced thinly keeping intact as much as possible 
  • handful shaved parmesan
  • handful toasted walnuts 
  • rind and zest of half an unwaxed lemon 
  • generous glug of very good quality olive oil 
  • salt and pepper
  • tablespoon roughly chopped parsley 
  1. In a large bowl, place the oil, lemon zest and rind, salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined 
  2. Add the porcini, parmesan, parsley, walnuts and mix through the dressing, being careful not to break up the porcini 
  3. Serve on a flat platter and offer chunks of good bread 
Blo Deady, Private Chef 

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