Love them or hate them, mushrooms are a key flavour of autumn. Ireland’s mild, damp climate is perfect for mushrooms. Dew-soaked ground, weak sunlight and ample shade, and cool temperatures allow mushrooms to thrive.
While several species of mushroom such as the Cep, the Chanterelle and the Puffball, are delicious and safe to eat, mushroom foragers must tread carefully, as many variations are toxic. The rule is that you should never consume a mushroom unless you can confidently identify its type.
Stick with the experts when foraging, or visit a good supermarket or farmers market and see what they have on offer.
If you do get your hands on some tasty fungi, we’ve got some delicious recipes, courtesy of the chefs of Ireland’s Blue Book.
Mushroom Ketchup from Chef Johnny Sarkozi, Brabazon Restaurant, Tankardstown House
Impress your dinner guests with this classy condiment from Chef Johnny Sarkozi from Brabazon Restaurant at Tankardstown House
1 large Spanish onion
5 cloves of garlic
60ml olive oil
700g shiitake mushrooms
150ml sherry vinegar
1 shot espresso
10g sea salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds
½ tbsp coriander seeds
30g freeze-dried shiitake mushrooms
½ tbsp ground nutmeg
2 allspice berries
5g freshly grated horseradish
20g truffle honey
1.5g Xanthan gum
Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil for about 6 minutes, or until translucent.
Combine the fresh and freeze-dried mushrooms, wet ingredients, salt, seeds, spices, horseradish, and truffle honey with the onion mixture, cover with a paper cartouche and cook on a low heat, stirring regularly for about 46 minutes, until the mushrooms are fully cooked and the liquid has evaporated.
Blend the ketchup and add the xanthan gum. Pass through a fine sieve and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Longueville House Mushroom Chocolate Truffles
While the idea of mushroom chocolate might be a little strange, these truffles are a wonderful combination of sweet and savoury, with the sweetness of the chocolate complementing the earthiness of the mushrooms, resulting in a wonderfully moreish treat.
25g dried ceps
500ml double cream
500g white chocolate
100g 70% dark chocolate
1 pinch of cocoa powder for dusting
Bring the ceps and the double cream to the boil in a large saucepan. Add to the chopped white chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool and then pass the liquid through a fine sieve.
Spread the mixture evenly on a tray and place in the fridge until set. Use a Parisian scoop to make small cep cream balls. Chill again.
Temper the chocolate by melting two-thirds of it in a saucepan at 58 degrees. Once melted, add the remainder. The temperature will drop at this point and heat gradually until 32 degrees.
Dip the cep cream balls in the chocolate coating and allow the excess to drip off. Then roll in the cocoa powder.
Place one small dot of melted chocolate on each truffle to secure a flake of sea salt.
Wild Forest Mushroom Chowder from Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House
For something comforting and warming as we approach the colder months, try this delicious Wild Forest Mushroom Chowder from Kevin Dundon at Dunbrody House. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not serve it in a bread bowl for added heartiness and wow-factor. Satisfaction is guaranteed.
For the Chowder:
2 tsp olive oil
125g butter, diced (at room temperature)
150g onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
550g forest mushrooms, chopped (such as chanterelle, oyster and shiitake)
120ml white wine
900ml vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flat-leaf parsley, torn, to finish
Heat a heavy-based pan and add the olive oil and a knob of the butter. Once the butter is foaming, tip in the onion, garlic and mushrooms and cook slowly for 2-5 minutes, until tender but not coloured. Take out and reserve some of the mushroom mixture to use as a garnish.
Add the wine to the pan and allow the evaporate until reduced by half, then season to taste. Add the vegetable stock or water, stirring to combine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until slightly reduced and all of the flavours have had a chance to infuse.
Stir the cream into the pan and leave to simmer for another few minutes, then transfer to a food processor or liquidiser and whizz to a purée.
To serve, remove the soup from the heat and whisk in the remaining butter.
Season to taste and ladle into warmed serving bowls, then garnish with the reserved mushrooms and the torn flat-leaf parsley.
For the Brown Bread
350g wholemeal flour
50g plain flour
50g porridge oats
2 level tsp bread soda
1 tsp salt
1 dessert spoon sunflower oil
Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/Gas Mark 5
Put the flours, sieved bread soda, salt and porridge oats into a large mixing bowl and mix them well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together with the oil and add to the dry mixture. Next, mix in the buttermilk and get the mix to a sloppy consistency.
Lightly dust the insides of four heatproof serving bowls. Divide one quantity of the brown bread into four and drop into the bowls, then bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool, then cut off the tops and scoop out the insides, leaving a layer of bread from the crust before ladling in the soup to serve.