Turkey & Mushroom Pie:

Photo:  Chris Wiles Photgraphy

Turkey & Mushroom Pie:

 (Could use chicken, but then it would be chicken & mushroom pie……..  I used a mixture, so that was Churkey & Mushroom Pie!)

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins, plus any cooking of the turkey/chicken

Course:        Main

Serves:        6-8

Rating:         3:  Moderate

This is a great way to use up Xmas turkey – a good New Year’s recipe.    A pie needs a lid.    A lid is normally puff pastry.    Don’t be put off by that pastry thing, as you can buy chilled, ready-made, ready rolled-up puff pastry.  Don’t try making your own because it simply is not worth the time, cost or the effort.  Life’s too short to make pastry!

Find:

  • Pack of ready-made puff-pastry from your supermarket chiller (it may be in a block – or even better, in a rolled-up sheet)
  • 500g turkey pieces – could be turkey breast or thigh meat. Alternatively, use chicken thighs.  If the meat is uncooked, cook it before putting it in the pie – see the method.
  • Onion or two
  • Can of Bachelors/Campbell’s condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
  • If you can cadge ‘em from somewhere, a dozen capers (optional, but they do make it nicer…. Make it two dozen)
  • 500g mushrooms
  • Egg or milk as a surface wash for the pastry
  • Rolling pin (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to roll out pastry, and how to use a lemonade bottle instead of a rolling pin – not necessary if you use rolled-up pastry!)
  • Oven dish
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • If the turkey/chicken is not already cooked, oven-cook (180 C) it under foil or a lid in a little oil and tablespoon of seasoned water for 40-50 mins.
  • Cool and remove the meat from the bones (see Tricks’n’Tips for the best way to remove the meat from a turkey drumstick).
  • Heat a little oil in the frying pan and add coarsely chopped onion then the cooked meat, the contents of the soup can (remember to rinse it out using a very tiny amount of water and pop that in too) and the capers (squashed with a fork) as well.
  • Wipe the mushrooms if dirty, then slice them and pop them into the meat mixture. Mix it all up.  (Never wash mushrooms)
  • Season to taste. Pour it all into the oven dish.

How to deal with a block of ready-made pastry: 

  • Firstly, clean the surface on which you intend to do your rolling-out. Remember that you are going to eat the stuff that you are about to spread and slide all over this surface, so make the surface really clean – and remember, also, that you don’t want to taste the cleaner you’ve used either – so make sure it’s dried well too.  You could use a plastic pastry rolling-out sheet if you had one.  Don’t worry, the cleaned surface is fine.
  • Sprinkle a little flour onto the beautifully cleaned, now dry surface that you intend to roll out onto, place the block of read-made pastry in the centre, sprinkling a little more flour on top.
  • Use a rolling pin (or a lemonade bottle devoid of label, glue and muck; shaken up to full pressure so that it is hard – we used to use a milk bottle years ago) to exert a light pressure on the pastry as it rolls over. This will make it expand away from you.
  • Lift the pastry, turn it though 90 degrees and turn it over and roll again. This will roll it out the other way, again away from you, ensuring that the rolling out is even.  Lift, turn, turn over again, sprinkle more flour and carry on doing this until the pastry is about 8mm thick.  It should be far larger than your oven dish by now – don’t worry about it.
  • Put the rolling pin on the pastry and roll it all up ONTO the rolling pin to transport it to the oven dish – and unroll it into position.

Of course, if you have bought ready rolled-out pastry in a roll, all of the above has already been done for you!

  • Use a knife to slice the excess pastry from around the edges of the oven dish and roll the excess into a ball.

(The excess pastry can be pressed into a ball, wrapped in cling film and popped into the freezer, ready for use in something else later).

  • Press a fork lightly all around the edges, sealing the lid to the side of the oven dish. CAUTION!….The contents will heat up and cause pressure to rise in the dish, so use the knife or scissors to cut or snip a couple of air vents in the pastry.
  • Either milk-wash the surface of the puff-pastry using a pastry brush if you have one (use a clean finger if you have not) or beat an egg in a mug and wash with that. Milk costs less but doesn’t look quite so good.
  • Put the oven dish on an oven tray to catch the overspill (saves cleaning the oven).
  • Oven bake for 30 mins around gas Mk 5 or until the lid looks good enough to eat – ‘cos it is.
  • Serve with whatever you fancy – it suits spuds and veg to my mind. If you want to have it with flied lice, it’s your choice!

Caramelised Onion & Mushroom Tarts:

Caramelised Onion & Mushroom Tarts:

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Veg starter/snack

Serves:         Depends how many you can eat!

Rating:         2:  Easy

To make 12 rather scrummy tarts, find:

  • 1 pack ready-made puff pastry – why bother making it?  Life’s too short!
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large onions
  • 300g mixed mushrooms –field mushrooms as a base, but also shitake & other tasty ones etc.
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 125ml single cream (250ml for large 8″ tart)
  • 1 egg, large (2 eggs for large 8″ tart)
  • salt and pepper

Makes 12 mini tarts or 1 x 8″ Tart.

  • Grease a 12 hole tart pan.
  • Roll the pastry out onto a well-floured surface and cut out circles large enough to line each hole. It would be good to chill these for a while.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c Fan/200c/Gas Mark 5.
  • Slice then fry the onions until nicely softened. 10 mins?
  • Slice then add the mushrooms to the frying pan. Cook until softened.
  • Put in the balsamic vinegar, sugar and garlic (crushed or finely chopped) and turn the heat up somewhat.
  • Fry until the majority of the vinegar is evaporated and the onions start to caramelise and go sticky. 5 mins?  10?
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Mix the egg, cream and seasonings together in a large jug.
  • Plop a dollop of the mushroom and onion mixture into each case, and then carefully top up the tarts with the cream mixture. It will need time to settle and filter through the mixture – they may need topping up a couple of times. Patience!  We don’t want them to overflow or to have retained air.
  • Oven bake for 25-30 mins until a lovely golden brown.
  • Take them out the oven when puffy’n’brown, allowing them to cool in the tin. They may have splurged a bit so just run a sharp knife around the tops of the tarts to release them from the tops of the tin!
  • Scoff! (But leave some for me).

Creamy mushystuff wild mushroom sauce:

Creamy mushystuff wild mushroom sauce:

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.      

Course:        Side dish-ish….

(but could be full starter or veggie main if modified a little).

Serves:        2  

Rating:         3:  Moderate

It’s lovely, soft and creamy and goes beautifully with moistly cooked chicken, pork or turkey.

Find:

  • Wild mushrooms from the reduced cabinet (shitake, oyster, sheep’s foot, lion’s mane, phoenix fir … two types if possible…. If not, well…….)
  • Bag of baby spinach leaves
  • 2 glasses white wine – dry if poss.
  • Small pot of single cream
  • Oil & butter
  • Seasoning
  • Saucepans

Method:

  • Oil the pan & put on to heat up. When warm, add the butter – about three ‘knobs’, but you can make the knobs as big as you wish.
  • Roughly slice the mushrooms and throw in. Give the pan a shake and then leave it alone for the mushrooms to cook for about four minutes or so, on a lowish heat.  The butter shouldn’t be allowed to burn and the pan can be moved about so that the butter is kept moving, but don’t chivvy the mushrooms about too much or they’ll start to drown in their own moisture.
  • Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine, letting the wine reduce to about a third of the original.
  • When that has been achieved, just throw in the baby spinach leaves and pour the cream on top straight away. Stir around gently, adding a little seasoning of freshly ground black pepper and granular sea salt to taste, then quickly serve onto the plates beside the meat.

Champignons Farci – Stuffed Mushroom Starter.

Champignons Farci – Stuffed Mushroom Starter.

A couple of these on a few rocket/watercress leaves…..

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15-20 mins.

Course:        Starter,

Or if a veggie-type-muggy-fancier, whatever you want.

Serves:        4 for this example

(Half the number of muggies that you use.  )

Rating:         2: Easy

Find:

  • 8 (to feed 4 as a starter) large, open-cap chestnut mushrooms, minimum 5 cm (2 in) diameter. You need twice the number of mushrooms as the number of people to eat ‘em.
  • 60 g (2 oz) butter
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 big, fat and juicy garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, finely chopped
  • Baby spinach leaves, plus extra leaves to garnish (optional)
  • 30 g (1 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 30 g (1 oz) hazelnuts/walnuts/pecans/……, finely chopped
  • Finely chopped parsley (Cor you got some choppin’ t’do!)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Seasonings (It’ll take an amount)
  • Your small food processor to save you doing all this chopping!
  • Frying pan
  • Oven dish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/mk 4
  • Remove the stalks from the mushrooms. Put with shallots, garlic, courgette in the small processor and blitz.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the chopped mixture and cook for about 5-10 minutes, keeping it well stirred.
  • Put the bread, nuts & parsley in the processor and blitz.
  • Roll up half of the spinach leaves and shred them finely.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded spinach, breadcrumbs, hazelnuts, parsley, and season to taste. Remember to leave it slightly under-salted as many people salt before they’ve tasted.  I know, it’s annoying but it’s what we generally do in the UK.
  • Put the mushroom caps, hollow side up, in a single layer in a lightly greased shallow ovenproof dish Spread a little butter in each cap.
  • Heap some of the shallot and courgette mixture into each mushroom cap and firm it down into a dome.
  • Generously sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the cheese has melted. Serve two of them, warm, on a bed of wilted spinach leaves or on watercress or rocket or….

Mushroom, aubergine & spinach ‘Rotolo-ish’ Pasta:

Mushroom, aubergine & spinach ‘Rotolo-ish’ Pasta:

PICTURE 9

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         3:  Moderate, but take it easy and you’ll be able to do it.

Have faith.

FIND:

For the tomato sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 fresh torn basil leaves – yes, it does actually make a difference.
  • 300 g nice, red & ripe (or even over-ripe) tomatoes, peeled (see Tricks’n’Tips), seeds removed & chopped.  (If you can’t find any, just use a can of chopped tomatoes and then double the dose of tomato puree.)
  • A good squeeze of a tomato puree tube (about four inches or so)
  • Seasoning to taste

For the filling

  • 250 g spinach
  • 1 large aubergine, cubed to 1cm
  • 100g mushrooms, whatever you can get but make ‘em tasty ones if you can
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp chopped marjoram (well, dried marjoram/oregano will do even though fresh is preferable, but hey, who’s gonna know the difference….. is Delia comin’ to dinner?  Nah!)
  • 50 g freshly grated parmesan
  • Clean tea-towel (or you could use cling-film instead)

 

For the pasta:

Buy a packet of lasagne pasta sheets.  No point in buggerin’ about trying to make pastaHow does this work?Close

  • It’s simple.
  • With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.
  • You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.
  • One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.
  • Take about 6 sheets of lasagne and drop ‘em into boiling water, trying to keep ‘em separate cos you need the sheets to still be sheet-like and not stuck together.
  • Boil for 10 mins and remove from the water. Retain the water for now.

For the tomato sauce:

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over a lowish heat, sweating the garlic until softened but not at all coloured.
  • Add all the tomatoes & purée and the basil leaves, then cook slowly for 25 minutes, or until thick and creamy.

For the filling:

  • Wilt (see Tricks’n’Tips) the spinach in butter and a splash of water, and leave to cool. Remove, squeeze out any remaining water then chop roughly (the spinach, not the water).
  • Chop the aubergine into cubes, chop the mushrooms and fry them until they become quite coloured.
  • Combine the spinach, aubergine, muggies and ricotta together in a bowl, then mix well with your fingers.
  • Add the egg yolk and marjoram and mix in well using a wooden spoon.
  • Finish with a sprinkle of salt and a grind of black pepper.
    Place the wet & floppy lasagne sheets, overlapping (by an inch or less) in a 3X2 formation, side by side on a large clean tea towel (or use cling film instead), making one large pasta sheet. Spread the filling evenly over this.
  • Fold over the edge of pasta nearest to you then, using the tea towel (or cling film) and the weight of the pasta to help, roll up the pasta and filling like you would a Swiss roll.
  • Brush the open edge of the pasta with a little water and press to seal the cylinder.
  • Wrap tightly in the tea towel (it was a clean one, wasn’t it? – you could have USED CLING FILM!), then tie the cylinder every 10cm and the ends of the towel with kitchen string. (I know it’s a ruddy phaph, but just do it and stop whingin’….!)
  • Bring a large pan/oven tin or fish kettle of water to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Place the roll in the water and poach for 12-15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
  • Remove and set aside to cool.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
  • Gently untie the rotolo, as it has now become, and cut into slices 1cm thick.
  • Arrange them in an oval earthenware dish, open ends upwards.
  • Cover with the tomato sauce then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, until just coloured, and serve immediately.

Sounds good, eh?

Tell yer wot – it looks and tastes better than that!

Porcini & Portobello Mushroom Rigatoni.

Porcini & Portobello Mushroom Rigatoni.

(or, whatever mushrooms you want to put with whatever pasta you have – but it just loses that air of romance when you call it that, don’t y’think?)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Snack/Main

Serves:        2 to 4

Rating:         2:  Easy, but there’s an amount of friggin’ about to do.

(But it’s worth doing).

Find:

  • 250 g Rigatoni, or whatever pasta you have handy
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 250 ml single cream
  • 30 g grated Parmesan
  • Cubes of fried mushroom (Portobello & Porcini in this case – if you have ‘em. If not, use whatever muggies you ‘ave got!)
  • Perhaps one Portobello mushroom kept whole for each person (optional – see comments).
  • More finely grated Parmesan, and Parmesan shavings, to serve

How does this work?

Close

It’s simple.

With just one click, all these ingredients will be put into a basket on mySupermarket.co.uk.

You can select the products you need, compare prices and choose the retailer you wish to buy them from. Or you can leave them in your basket and come back later to buy items from other recipes.

One thing is for sure though, you are guaranteed to find the best value.

                Method

  • If using fresh mushrooms, cut up and fry in oil to a golden colour.
  • If using dried mushrooms, you’ll have to re-hydrate them first – see what it says on the packet/box/container. They need to be in small chippings before you cook them.
  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta, leaving just a little bit of the water in the saucepan. Return the pasta to the pan and place over low heat, stirring in the egg yolks, cream, Parmesan and seasonings. Remember that you’ll need an amount of coarsely ground black pepper or you’ll be arrested by the taste police (again).
  • Stir for a couple of minutes or so, as the egg needs to cook on the pasta.
  • Stir in half of the mushroom chippings. Pile onto the plates
  • Sprinkle the rest of the muggies over the pasta on the plates, then the grated Parmesan, then the shavings.
  • Serve with lots of wine – and friends.

VARIATION:

If you cook the Portobello mushrooms whole, and one is put on the plate before the pasta goes on, there would be a surprise muggie lurking beneath the pile o’pasta….. a new slant to “What Lies Beneath….?.” (The scary film, y’know?   Oh well, that one fell onto stony ground and perished!).

 

Puyaise Portobellos:

Puyaise Portobellos:

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      1 hour in total.

Course:        Starter or main

Serves:        4 as a starter or 2 as a main course

Rating:         3:  Moderate

An unusual veggie dish that can be used as a starter or as a main course.

If you are not veggie, you can replace the puy lentils (which, even as a keen carnivore I actually find very tasty), with the Mince’n’Onion Thingymebob, should you wish.

It is an immensely healthy, vegetarian dish that is low fat, gluten-free, dairy-free and good for you – but despite that, it isn’t taste-free.

Puy lentils (the French green lentils originally grown around the Puy region… hence the name…) will cook to tender in around twenty minutes and will carry flavour readily along with their natural nutty taste.  So, being the sort of ingenious person that you are, latching onto opportunities that present themselves to you, you’re thinking that if they are boiled in a solution of bouillon powder (see Tricks’n’Tips), they will carry that flavour to the table.  Yes.

Correct – go to the top of the class and don’t get dizzy…..and definitely don’t fall off!

Find:

  • 4 large open, dish shaped mushrooms, stem removed

Get Portobello mushrooms if possible – but if not, just get the biggest buggers y’can find.

  • 100g puy lentils
  • Butter
  • Bouillon powder (or veggie stock cubes)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Onion
  • 8 tomatoes
  • Flat-leaved parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Half a glass of sherry (for once, this should be the amount)….it doesn’t stop you drinking a good few glasses of it though!
  • Sauce thickener – probably cornflour

Topping (optional):

  • Cup of breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
  • Pine nuts, roasted, toasted or fried
  • Italian seasoning mix

Method:

  • So, roast the tomatoes in an oven tin for 30 minutes on gas mk 5, boil the lentils in a saucepan of water and bouillon powder for the same time. Remove the tomato skins from the flesh by squeezin’ ‘em……..easy-peasy!
  • Chop the garlic finely and mix with the tomato, mushroom stems and lentils to make a classic veggie combination. Add lots of black pepper & mix.  Let it sit for 5 mins, mix again and then re-check for seasoning.
  • Boil the Portobello mushrooms, whole, in the bouillon mixture for 5 mins, then drain.
  • Pop a little butter in each cap. Fry the pine nuts very gently in the olive oil to just start to colour, then add breadcrumbs and get them to darken a little.   Add the Italian seasoning and mix.
  • Spoon the lentil mixture into the mushroom caps. Add the breadcrumb topping.
  • Put them into the oven on gas mk 5 (in the same oven tin as the toms – saves washing up) for about another 20 mins.
  • Add the sherry to the bouillon liquid and thicken with the Cornflour (see Tricks’n’Tips), seasoning to taste, and pour over them on the plates.
  • The mushrooms will emerge from the oven looking quite dull in colour; lighten it all up with chopped parsley, red & yellow peppers and other bright colours.
  • Serve with all manner of veggie delights – or just very crusty bread and lovely butter.

Creamy Garlic Mushrooms:

Creamy Garlic Mushrooms:

A wonderful starter, creamy garlic mushrooms is a bit of a classic – if a little dated. (Still tastes great though!)

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Starter

Serves:        4 as a starter

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • 200g mushrooms of whatever type you can obtain – don’t break the bank but wild mushrooms taste SO different to the common field/button variety
  • 4 large cloves garlic, skin removed
  • 2 shallots, skin removed and sliced
  • 1 dessertspoon olive oil
  • 2 glasses of some sort of sherry
  • 2 tablespoons or more of normal single cream
  • Grated cheese – Red Leicester or similar, avoid any really strong cheese for this
  • Seasoning to taste
  • Granary bread,

Method:

  • Pour the oil into a frying pan and place over a gentle heat.
  • Finely slice the shallots and garlic and add to the pan. Fry gently for a few minutes, stirring gently.  Do not overheat!
  • Prepare your mushrooms by gently wiping any dirt from their surfaces with a piece of kitchen towel – never wash mushrooms as they will absorb the water and become slimy – a bit like politicians.
  • Slice the mushrooms into chunky pieces and add to the pan, stirring so that they become coated with the oil.
  • After about ten minutes when there is colour on the mushrooms, pour the sherry into the pan and turn the heat up so that the alcohol burns off (your opportunity to FLAMBÉ) and the liquid starts to reduce.
  • After a few minutes, the mushrooms should be cooked, so turn the heat back down quite low and add the cream to the pan along with black pepper according to taste.
  • Stir everything around and heat gently for a couple of minutes. Preheat the grill to high. Transfer the mushrooms and cream mixture to two shallow, heat-proof dishes.
  • Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of each and place the dishes under the grill. Keep an eye on these so that they don’t start to burn – it should only take a couple of minutes for the cheese to be browned and bubbling.
  • Stand each dish on a large plate (you must warn your diners that the dishes will be scaldingly hot) and serve with beautifully crusty granary bread for clearing up the sauce.

Nutty Mushroom Crumble:

Nutty Mushroom Crumble:

PICTURE 6

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      15 + 30 = 45 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4-5

Rating:         3:  Moderate

As a veggie main, serves 4-5, or as a starter 8+

Find:

For the mushroom mixture:

  • 750g ‘Nutty’ Mushrooms – best to get at least two different types, one of them preferably a wild mushroom or at least a chestnut/forestiere muggy – but if common white muggies is all you’s got, well, that’s fine – just use what’s to hand.
  • 60g butter or margarine
  • A little oil (not ‘engine’, ‘baby’ or ‘body’) just to help the butter to not burn in the pan
  • 1 large onion – I like big red onions, but use what’s to hand.
  • …. I like garlic, so I use 3 or 4 cloves. Use as many as you think.
  • 500 ml vegetable stock – or 500 ml (half a litre) of boiling water and three green OXO cubes.

You can use part white wine, especially if you have a bottle that has been opened a fair while.  Recycle it into here…..  Oh yes, if you have any old vermouth hanging around (Cinzano, Martini, Noilly Prat) use a glass of that instead of the equivalent of water in the stock.  I’m all in favour of a bit o’recycling.  Someone who used to take my blood (no, not like that – I am a blood donor!) really goes for the Vermouth taste – so I think I’ll recommend “Tania’s Twist” and say that a white Vermouth should be used in preference to plain, borin’ ol’ white wine!  Ta for the recipe modification, Tania!

  • 60g plain flour
  • Small carton double cream
  • Seasonings & fresh herbs if you have them. I like to use lots of fresh chopped parsley in this dish.  It looks nice too.
  • A little coarse sea salt, if you have it. If not…..

For the crumble mixture:

  • 100g oatmeal – don’t go out especially to buy oatmeal, you are supposed to be saving money (for use at the pub later) you can use porridge oats and chop them through thoroughly with a knife on a chopping board – anyway, this recipe is supposed to be rustic.
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 30 – 50g chopped walnuts
  • 30 – 50g chopped pistachio nuts (shelled, of course – it’d be a bit too crunchy otherwise!)
  • A good hefty pinch or two of dried thyme
  • Another good hefty pinch (but not quite so hefty) of fennel seeds
  • 100g softened butter or marg.
  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Bowl (or use a supermarket bag without any holes, placed in a dry sink)
  • Colander (that’s that thing like a bowl wiv ‘oles in, wot yer used to play soldiers ‘ats wiv when y’were a young ankle-biter…..Oh dear, forgive me – I just had a bit of a turn!) or just use the lid of the saucepan slightly dislodged to allow the water to drain away.
  • Ceramic oven dish. Ensure that it is big enough, or have two ready to double up.  There is a lot of ‘stuff’ here to go into that thar oven.

Method:

  • Put the stock in a big saucepan and bring it to the boil.
  • Using a good, sharp, broad bladed knife (see Hints’n’Tips) slice the mushrooms. Don’t use grotty muggies for this, and don’t peel them first.  Remember NOT to wash them either (they go soggy!).  If they are mucky, wipe ’em off with kitchen roll.
  • Put the sliced mushrooms into the boiling stock and bring back up to fast boil. Turn down to the lowest heat on the smallest ring on the cooker, put on the lid and forget for 15 minutes.
  • Whilst the mushrooms are becoming gorgeous and tender, roughly chop the onion and fry it in a frying pan, using the oil and butter, for 3-4 minutes. Don’t use a high heat – you don’t want the onions to colour, just to soften.
  • Stirring the onions with a wooden spoon, tip in the flour bit by bit and mix so that the oil & butter becomes absorbed by the flour. Cook for a minute or so, low heat, stirring it all the time.  It must not become coloured.  You’re making a ‘roux’ – as in kanga.

Kanga-roux!  Oh, never mind.

  • The mushrooms should have had their 15 minutes of fame by now. Take them off the heat and either lift out the mushrooms from the stock or pour the stock from the mushrooms – it’ll taste the same whichever way you do it – but retain the stock (what do you mean – “it’s down the sink”?  Dingbat!  Go and fetch it……….)
  • Pour the stock into the roux, little by little, making sure that each slosh of stock is absorbed into the flour & onion roux by vigorous stirring with a wooden spoon before adding more. The roux will soften and become creamier.
  • When all the stock is in you can either continue in the frying pan or transfer the whole lot to the saucepan. Your choice.  I’d transfer it, myself as it’s easier to control a sauce in a saucepan (now I wonder why….?).  Ok, now you are really steaming ahead.
  • Cook the mixture gently until it has thickened (10 mins?), then add the mushrooms, seasoning, cream and half of the chopped fresh parsley. Cor, ’tis lookin’ good.
  • Put the lid on and sit it on the cooker, away from heat. It is ready for the oven dish.  The crumble mixture is next.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, nuts, seasoning (of which it will be in very great need) and the dried thyme. Not the fennel seeds.  Not yet.  Hang on.  Don’t rush.
  • If you don’t have a big bowl, use a supermarket carrier bag WITHOUT HOLES!
  • Chuck in the butter/marg and mix it up with yer mitts (your hands). The idea is for any crumble mix – sweet or savoury – to resemble breadcrumbs.  But these breadcrumbs would be very lumpy, funny coloured ones because of the rustic oats etc.

Assembly: 

  • Pour the mushroom mixture into the oven dish. Spread it about.  The level should be about 10mm down from the rim, any nearer to the rim than 10mm and it may squidge over the sides of the dish and mucky-up-yer-oven.  Mistake!  You’d have to clean it.   Not good.
  • Ok, sprinkle the rest of the parsley on top of the mixture – go on, it’ll take lots. At this point, I like to sprinkle a little coarse sea-salt over the mushroom mixture to give little spikes of intense flavour.
  • Gently sprinkle the crumble mix on top. Don’t press down.  Level it out using a fork – very lightly.  If you have any butter left over, a few scrapes or slivers of butter dotted over the top of the crumble mixture adds to visual appeal.
  • Sprinkle the fennel seeds on top and just leave ‘em there.

Cooking: 

  • Preheat the oven to about gas mk 5 (190C/375F) and put the oven dish in for around 30 minutes. Check after 20.
  • Bung a sprig of nice green fresh herbs in the middle and pop it onto the table. Then gloat.  You deserve to.  Well done!

NOTE:  If you have someone who is wheat intolerant, don’t use wheat flour at all, use gram flour, rice flour or something similar that is gluten-free.