Puffball mushrooms

Grilled Puffball with rosemary and garlic

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Last weekend I discovered a puffball. It was the first one I’ve seen this season and a very welcome sight it was, too. Fairly big, it needed two hands to cup it and it looked in prime health. Puffballs remind me of giant marshmallows and indeed the texture is not dissimilar.

They are excellent to cook and behave much better than many other mushrooms, mainly because they don’t release masses of liquid when you put them in a hot pan. They are perfect to grill and because their flavour is mild, they are all the better with a good marinade.

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I crushed garlic and mixed it with olive oil to brush generous amounts over both sides and studded the soft flesh with rosemary. Lots of salt and pepper is necessary and a fairly long time grilling on both sides, then finished with some good olive oil. Simple but delicious.

There are many other ways you could try too. Other herbs such as thyme or savoury would taste good and another good tip I’ve been given is to fry them in salty smoked bacon fat for breakfast. Definitely worth a try.

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1 puffball mushroom, sliced lengthways into pieces about 1cm thick

Garlic, crushed to a paste with a little salt

Rosemary sprigs

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Mix the crushed garlic with some olive oil and brush it over both sides of the mushroom. Push the sprigs of rosemary into the flesh and season well with salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle pan or frying pan and cook the slices on both sides for 3-4 minutes or until well coloured and soft.

Pour over some good olive oil to serve.

 

Nettle ravioli

Even though my vegetable patch is looking pretty sparse at the moment, outside of the garden the first opportunities of foraging are beginning, starting with nettles. Stinging or common nettles (ortica dioica) are a great wild gift of early spring and right now is the time to gather them, when the first tender leaves are starting to sprout.
nettles

Few things can be as menacing yet desirable as the stinging nettle. Their flavour is delicious, a bit like an intense, rich spinach and they’re full of health giving vitamins and iron. You need to pick just the tops off each plant, where the leaves are at their most tender and once cooked for 2-3 minutes in boiling water, they’re free from the sting. If you don’t cook them long enough, you can still get a harmless little tickle on the tongue.

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Home grown – courgette soup with white beans

Getting married meant moving into a new house. A house that already belonged to my husband, but was a place in which we needed to create a new home together. This can be challenging, especially when little superficially needs to be changed; it was fully furnished, nothing needed redecorating and even the garden was well established. The kitchen soon became my first place to settle in: I filled the shelves with my cookbooks and I hung my favourite pots over the cooker, but still there was a rootedness which I lacked. It was then that I started to look outside.

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The new garden in full bloom

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Nowness

Nowness, the video channel premiering the best in global arts and culture featured a film of me at work..here’s what they say and a link to the short film:

July 13, 2015

A Woman’s Work: Blanche Vaughan

​The lauded British chef reveals her culinary inspirations

For the third episode of A Women’s Work, we venture into the kitchen with British chef and food writer Blanche Vaughan, who has quietly created her own delectable take on English cuisine. Director Errol Rainey captured Vaughan’s elegant handiwork at her West London home and Devon country escape, which she shares with her art dealer husband, Hugo de Ferranti.

As a young chef, Vaughan sharpened her knives at some of London’s most revered institutions – Moro, St. John and River Café – before publishing an acclaimed kitchen handbook, In One Pot: Fresh Recipes for Every Occasion. A serious car accident left her with temporary memory loss and an inability to multitask; in the face of adversity, however, the remarkable chef developed recipes influenced by the personal constraints she was facing.

This past spring, Vaughan released another successful book, Egg: The Very Best Recipes Inspired by the Simple Egg – a celebration of her refreshingly uncomplicated approach to British produce.

Accidental foraging, a handful of leaves

A walk on Devon moorland recently led me to some great foraging opportunities, including some plants I’d never picked before.ImageWild wood purslane

I found myself in a sea of tiny pink flowers, beautiful in their own right, but then discovered their leaves are edible too. Wood purslane have small, succulent leaves with a fresh, faintly lemony taste, very similar to the larger purslane salad, sold in bunches in Middle Eastern vegetable shops. I like to add a handful of them to other green leaves, possibly with some sliced radishes and a light lemon and oil dressing.

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