Forest Cappuccino with Beefsteak Mushroom Croustades
This recipe is made from the leftovers from our wild food foraging day with Food Safari. It’s amazing how much free food there is actually to collect out there, but it’s not as simple as you may think. First of all you must have the foraging knowledge and know what your doing . We were privileged enough to be accompanied by Jacky Sutton-Adam ‘the WildFoodie‘ and Valerie Jordan from the Tasty Mushroom Partnership. These two ladies know their stuff and interestingly Jacky still came prepared on the day with her little handbook. Jacky has years of experience and has left us with a lot to contemplate and plenty of sound advice.
- Always seek permission, never enter private property without permission,
- Always harvest from healthy plants,
- Forage away from busy roads, have a close look if you suspect that weed killers have been used do not pick the plants.
- Identify the plants correctly, I love Valerie’s saying “if in doubt leave it out!”
- Never pick endangered plants,
- Protect yourself, wear gloves as most edible plants are spiky,
- Regenerate, do not strip the plants completely bare so that they cannot survive, think about the future.
We found fantastic plants such as chickweed that I used instead of cress to garnish my croustades. To correctly identify chickweed, Jacky showed us the hairy stems. We were sure that cattle had not been in this area so I could happily use these without cooking them. We also found wild watercress which had been in the path of the cattle so Jacky advised that I should cook the wild watercress, as the cattle’s urine could cause a nasty liver disease. Jacky pointed out ground ivy to us and said that she makes a healthy cup of tea with it as it relaxes her after a very stressful day’s work. Ground elder and nettles were amongst the rest of the amazing wild plants that we also found on the day.
While we had our heads and back bent over to spot the mushrooms and wild foods we heard Valerie calling us and she had a very large smile on her face. She along with a few of the other foragers has found beefsteak fungus, it’s amazing as it looks just like liver or very well marbled beef once you cut into it. This discovery was amazing and you only find them growing on oak trees and lucky us were surrounded by plenty of really old and knobbly oak trees. There was plenty for everyone to harvest and take home. Valerie advised that you should soak the beefsteak fungus once sliced, in cold milk or water for ten minutes to draw out the bitter tanninsand then wash them thoroughly under cold running water before cooking. They fried up beautifully in a small knob of butter, seasoned with salt and they taste just like a bit of steak.
The rest of my basket included fairy ring mushrooms, they are very pretty and made my Beefsteak Mushroom and Brioche Croustades even more special. The trimmings and field mushrooms made it into the mushroom cappuccino, perfect for a little starter or canape party.
Later that afternoon we had our lunch and Jacky shared with us her home made acorn biscotti. It was delicious and I appreciated it even more after she explained to us how labour intensive it was to make the acorn flour. I would love to have a crack at making them myself once I had harvested enough acorns, it might take a little while though!
- 300g wild forest mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 banana shallots, finely sliced
- 200g celery, finely diced
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 1tbs unsalted butter
- 200ml Madeira
- 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 200ml double cream
Heat a large saucepan with the butter, once the butter stars to foam sauté the mushrooms, sliced shallot, diced celery and crushed garlic with seasoning until deep golden brown.
Deglaze the pan with the Madeira and rapid boil until the Madeira turns syrupy and coats the mushrooms and shallots with a glossy coating.
Add the stock of you choice, reduce the heat and bring the soup to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes. I cook the soup for the first 15 minutes with the lid on so that the liquid does not evaporate too much and remove the lid for the last 5 minutes. All over low heat at a gentle simmer.
Add the cream and bring the soup back to the simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a liquidiser or Thermomix and blend until very smooth and frothy.
For extra cappuccino foaminess return the soup to a deep saucepan and use a stick blender or a ba-mix to aerate the soup further, the soup must be hot I find it aerates best if the soup is just before boiling point. If the soup is too thick it will not foam, add a dash of cream to let the soup down slightly, I also find adding a small knob of cold butter also do the trick. Fatty components helps the soup to aerate.
Serve the frothy soup immediately with the warm brioche and beefsteak mushroom croustades.
Beefsteak mushroom brioche croustades
- 6 large slices of brioche, 1cm thick
- 300g mixed wild mushroom including field mushrooms, fairy ring mushrooms etc..
- 200g beefsteak mushroom
- 100ml milk
- 1 banana shallot, peeled
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2tsp unsalted butter
- 1tbs olive oil
- 1tsp chopped fresh thyme
- Chickweed, washed
Prepare the beefsteak mushroom by slicing thinly and then soak it in the milk for 10 minutes, drain and wash the mushroom under cold running water, pat dry. This needs to be done to extract the bitterness from the mushroom.
Clean the rest of the wild mushrooms, slice and set aside.Slice the banana shallot into thin rings.
Toast the brioche until golden brown on both sides either under a preheated grill or using a toaster. Use a 4cm size cutter and cut 12 circles out of the toasted brioche, set aside.
Heat a large non stick frying pan with the butter and oil, as soon as the butter starts to foam sauté the mushrooms, garlic and shallots with seasoning until golden brown.
Once the mushrooms are cooked add the chopped fresh thyme and divide the mixture between the toasted brioche croustades and garnish each with a small sprig of the chickweed.
Serve the croustades with the cups of foamy hot mushroom soup.
Serves 12 espresso cups