Jul
05
2011
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What goes best with crab?

What goes best with crab? Here is the answer.

Yesterday while out jogging in the forest, I noticed the first golden chantarelle of the season. As you know from my other writings, this is indeed a glorious moment: the first glimpse of those golden nuggets plugged into the green, mossy forest bed without anyone else having yet discovered them (if they had discovered them, they would be gone here in Sweden!).

The family didn’t believe me when I returned home, so I was forced to drag them all out to the very same spot with my mushroom-picking basket, to show them that I was not hallucinating.

I had planned to make crab cakes for dinner, in anticipation of the shellfish season later in the summer. It occurred to me that the mild flavor of chantarelle might fit just perfectly with the delicate flavor of crab. And what a combination it was. So delicious with a bit of sour cream dolloped on top and some new potatoes on the side. Does it get better than this? I am not sure.

Use my usual recipe suggestion for preparing and sautéing wild mushrooms and keep them warm in the oven while you prepare the following recipe for crab cakes.

Crab Cakes with Summer Chantarelle
Serves 4

340 grams or 12 ounces of crab meat
4 pieces white bread, crusts removed and broken into crumbs
2 eggs
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cm or 0.8 inches ginger, grated
Salt and pepper
Olive oil for sautéing

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl until a batter forms. Form the batter into cakes that fit into the palm of your hand.  Warm oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the crab cakes in the pan and sauté for 4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Place on a warmed serving dish and scatter the chantarelle on top. Serve with new potatoes and soured cream flavored with a herb such as chive or parseley.

Written by Admin in: Chantarelle,Crab,Mushrooms,Shellfish | Tags: ,
Mar
16
2010
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Eating Naturally

Still working on using up last season's carrots

Still working on using up last season's carrots

We’re being asked to do so many things when it comes to food and diet these days. The new drive to combat obesity spear-headed by Michelle Obama in the United States is long overdue yet at the same time opens the floodgates for all sorts of new diets suggesting a host of rules and regulations about eating and food preparation. Today it is common knowledge that rigid diets do not serve us well over the long term. They might reduce weight for a time but they won’t do anything for us as the years go by. So what do we do?

At the same time as we are being urged to think about how to eat for healthier weight, we are also being asked to choose in relation to the environment, taking climate change, pesticide use and genetic modification into account. On top of all of this we should prioritize fair trade, meaning the purchase of food products which improve the working and living standards of producers in developing countries.

All of this seems a tall order. You could be forgiven for standing in your kitchen holding your head in your hands. It was with all of these various new demands in mind, the experience of winning over a food disorder and the strong desire to have a natural relationship to food that I came up with The Natural Eater system for thinking about food choices. On the concept page you can read about this values based idea for having a relationship to food that feels freeing and healthy rather than constraining and leading only to short-term health solutions.

With The Natural Eater system in mind, I’m freeing you up with a refreshing little recipe for using up whatever is left and creating a hearty meal out of it. One of the operating principles of The Natural Eater is that food is creativity. For this to be so, it’s important to have enough food preparation skills so that you can look into your fridge or pantry at any given time and prepare something good to eat. Limitation is the mother of invention if you have certain basic food preparation skills. The idea of using whatever is left also relates to another important Natural Eater value which is that food is solidarity with the planet and its peoples and therefore we do not waste it.

I opened my fridge at about 5 pm this weekend and found a few carrots, a carton of champignons, a bit of cottage cheese, a stick of mozarrella cheese and some remaining soured cream.  I had a few other odd ingredients around and wondered whether I should instead shoot off to the supermarket to reduce my thinking time. Then I thought of one of my favorite food programs shown on BBC television for years in which a well-known chef was asked to prepare a meal with a bag of inexpensive ingredients purchased by a regular everday person who would be their assistant. Using this program as my inspiration, I came up with the following:

Carrot & Champignon Lasagne (serves 8 persons)

1 package of lasagne sheets
6 carrots, peeled and grated
dried or fresh herb such as parsley, tarragon or nettle
1 box of champignons, rinsed and sliced
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 dl or 1 cup soured cream
2 dl or 1 cup cottage cheese
500 g or 1 lb mozarrella cheese
3 dl or 1.5 cups milk
canola or olive oil
salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F. Grease a rectangular pyrex (mine is 30 x 17 cm or 12 x 7 inches)and cover the base with lasagne sheets. Set aside. Prepare the lasagne fillings. Toss the grated carrot with 2-4 tablespoons of herb. I used dried nettle which you cannot find in shops but parsley, tarragon and a host of other dried or fresh herbs work just as well. Drizzle over a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Set aside. Drizzle some olive oil into a pan and saute onions and garlic over medium heat for two minutes. Add the sliced champignon and saute for another two minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl blend the cottage cheese, soured cream and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the mozarrella thinly.

Assemble the lasagne. Spoon half the carrots onto the bottom lasagne sheets and cover with a new layer of pasta. Spoon half the mushrooms onto the new layer of lasagne sheets and cover with half of the milk mixture. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets and repeat the layers once more, finishing once you have spooned over the rest of the milk mixture. Cover the surface of the lasagne with mozarella slices, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the mozarella is lightly browned. Serve with your favorite salad.

I thought the dish would last us for two days. It didn’t. We probably ate one too many portions, but at least you know that this recipe lives up to the taste test!

Jul
29
2009
1

Best and Basic Wild Mushroom Recipe

Gold of the Forest

Gold of the Forest

It’s been a variable summer so far with a bit more rain than most Nordic sunseekers like to see. Yet for those of us who are chantarelle lovers it looks like this is already a remarkable year. The damp forest floors of Scandinavia are already covered in ‘forest gold’, and when my husband found them growing out of the sandy soil under the swings in our children’s playground at our island home, we realized that it was time to take down the mushroom picking baskets hanging from the kitchen ceiling and head out.

The culinary mythology around what to do with wild mushrooms once they are in the basket on your kitchen counter is contradictory as it is extensive. ‘Never do this’ and ‘never do that’ are a common means of expressing advice around the precious annual fungi finds. Butter companies adore this time of year and if you happen to be in a Nordic subway station from August until October, you’ll notice that chantarelles are portrayed on billboards as the inseparable buddies of a lump of butter.

Fine if you like butter, but my advice is not to be swayed. Years ago I walked the forests around my island with one of Sweden’s most respected mushroom experts, Bo Nylen, and he reminded me always when I got home to do the following with the most delicious edible mushrooms:

Basic Mushroom Recipe (particularly chantarelles and porcini)

Wild mushrooms (consume only if you are absolutely certain about what you have picked!)
Ecological Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 garlic cloves (optional)
Salt

Clean the mushrooms with a cooking brush (anything resembling a small basting brush is fine). Preserve as much of the mushroom as possible for eating, including the stem. Do not wash in water as the mushrooms become…well…I cannot find another word: mushy. Chop the mushrooms into cross-sections or just roughly. With porcini, make sure that the insects and worms have not gotten into the mushroom first. Heat a thick bottomed sauteing pan with a few tablespoons of ecological extra virgin olive oil. Lower the heat to medium and add the mushrooms. Drain away the excess liquid in the pan after a couple of minutes of sauteing and add some extra olive oil, the crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute until the mushrooms become ever so slightly browned (not burned). Serve on a slice of toast with sour cream and chives or use in a wide range of other dishes. See, for instance, Warm Mushroom Wraps.

My friend, Rune Kalf-Hansen, has just come out with a fabulous new cookbook in Swedish language called Kalf-Hansens Ekologiska Kök. If you do read and understand Swedish, you will enjoy his mouth-watering recipe for Kantarellpiroger (his version of Chantarelle Wraps). Rune’s cuisine gives eating seasonally new meaning and he has devoted decades to making people understand why it is important. An authentic work in every way!

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