One can benefit greatly by living in close proximity to a keen forager with an eye for mushrooms. The mushroom season in Dunedin has been exceptionally good and boletus are plentiful should one know where to look for them. Mushroomers may share their haul, but will never, ever tell where their mushrooms are found! Our generous benefactors have shared their bounty with us and some of the most thrilling mushrooms, the puffballs, grow right here in their garden!
Recipe for fried puffball mushroom
1 Good sized puffball, firm and pure white right through when sliced. The inside has a marshmallow like texture
2 to 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dried breadcrumbs with a pinch of salt and pepper added and mixed in
Use a cast iron or heavy based pan big enough to fry the mushroom slices in 2 ot 3 batches
Enough pork fat or vegetable oil to come up to about 2.5 ml up the side of the pan. Apart from the great taste, pork fat can be heated to a very high temperature, ideal for frying
I have written about puffballs before, and this one was prepared by again slicing it into ‘steaks’ about 15 mm thick, dipped in egg wash and coated in dried breadcrumbs. This time the slices were fried until golden in pork fat, processed in our kitchen from a delicious home grown porker. I highly recommend frying in pork fat but those that fear animal fat can use vegetable oil. We ate the mushroom, dressed with a few drop of fresh lemon juice and ground black pepper, for dinner along with fresh tomatoes that ripened in Dunedin’s first hot summer since we moved here. The tiny lemons are from the tiny tree planted in our front garden 2 seasons ago.
Only flour for making the bread to produce crumbs and salt and pepper were purchased to produce this lovely meal.
If you have any lemons left after making Limoncello, you may as well make some delicious PASTA AL LIMONE
When my friend joined me for an afternoon of cheese making Mrs BYF had collected all the leftover ricotta (1/2 cup) and about 1 cup of mascarpone (which had turned out a bit sour) I had made a few days ago and made a great pasta sauce. She melted the cheeses and a tablespoon of butter over a very slow heat while the pasta was cooking, added some lemon rind and a few squeezes of lemon juice, bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes. After adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water she added the drained pasta to the pan and served it with a generous dusting of parmigiano cheese. It was delicious and my friend wanted the recipe. As with a lot of her best dishes her passion for using the ingredients at hand it can never be repeated!
The secret is home made cheese. The ricotta we can buy here is not edible, whereas one can buy reasonable mascarpone made by Tatua. Having lovely organic lemons from a neighbour’s mum’s tree in Wellington is also an inspiration to make this simple but elegant dish.
Panettone is traditionally eaten throughout Italy and the world by Italians during the Christmas period. The origin of panettone is from Milan where we consume it all year round. It is a tedious and long process to make, but always worth the while.
150 g Sugar
15 g Natural Live Yeast
260 g Biga (50:50)
200 g Egg Yolks
340 g Flour
220 g Butter
1185 g TOTAL
Dissolve the sugar and live yeast in the Biga, then add the egg yolks and flour and mix well until even. Ad the soft butter and mix well. Let it levitate 12 to 14 hours at 25°C or until triple in volume.
200 g Flour
35 g Sugar
50 g Egg Yolks
50 g Butter
10 g Salt
3 g Vanilla Pods
200 g Sultanas pre-soaked and dried
180 g Candied Fruit
50 g Orange Peel
778 g TOTAL
1963 G GRAND TOTAL
Knead the flour and first kneading until elastic. Add the sugar and the egg yolks and mix / knead thoroughly, then add the butter, salt and vanilla and mix until even. Lastly add the fruit and mix well.
Let the dough proof for one hour, then divide into portions and let it rest for another hour. Pirlare (to make the dough round) and place into moulds lined with baking paper.
Levitate at 30°C for 5 to 6 hours or until triple in volume. Bake at 160C for twenty minutes, rotate the moulds and bake another 40 minutes at 150 C (Approximately 60 minutes per kilogram for each mould). When taken from the oven, turn upside-down and rest for at least 3 hours, then put in bags and store.
For some time we every year imported a 10 Kg Albertengo Moscato Panettone from Albertnego in Italy.
We had the good fortune to be invited to pick apricots near Dunback. The day was clear and sunny and this year the trees were laden with sweet, ripe, pink cheeked fruit. The orchard is organic and amazingly free of bugs, wasps, birds and the like and the taste of the fruit was the best we had ever eaten.
Sheep roam the orchard and once we had explained the difference between sheep poo (ok) and dog poo (not ok) to the city kids, everyone got stuck in, munching and chatting as they picked in the shade of the trees. The baby grazed on whatever fruit he found on the ground until he announced “I don’t NEED apricots!” . When I commented on the meagre contents on Mrs BYF’s bucket she claimed to have eaten at least one tree’s worth and that it should be factored in to her harvest.
We had a great day out in the peaceful countryside. We met lovely hospitable people, drank great coffee and beer, and came home happy and pleased with our haul.
Back in the kitchen, we made jam, dried some, froze some, preserved some, and, with the smallest fruit, bottled them in grappa. We will need some warmth when the Dunedin winter bites so hopefully we will be able to keep our hands off these bottles until then.
We love olives but are wary of the chemically saturated commercial products available. The solution is to cure our own the way it had been done traditionally in Italy. On the drive to Cromwell to collect olives we passed through beautiful, and often contrasting scenery, as one does when travelling in New Zealand. We stopped several times to admire the amazingly blue Clutha River. Normally rivers are colored muddy brown and the color and clarity of this river was quite thrilling. Then we passed by Cromwell where we once again stopped to look at the reflections of the mountains (one snowy peak in the background) in the water. In the distance tantalising, snow covered, mountains stayed just out of reach for close up pictures. The olive grove belongs to Bill and Helen Dunbar and is on the shores of Lake Dunstan. The lake and the snowy mountain tops are visible from everywhere, from the cleverly laid out open plan house and presses, to the trees when one is picking. The business markets fresh pressed olive oil which, once we got home, we compared with our favorite imported Italian brand and we are happy to report that it came out tops. There is much to be said for a fresh olive oil from good olives and carefully pressed and bottled. See the website http://www.Dunfordgrove.com
Bill and Helen invited me to pick my own olives – an unexpected bonus! The last time I had the opportunity to pick olives was in Italy in the Marche on the farm of an old friend, and then again in my friend Lino’s back yard (one tree only, but what a harvest!). We picked about 60 Kg, a mix of eating and pressing olives – thank you Bill and Helen.
Recipe for Curing Olives
The olives I picked were Picholine, Frantoio and Leccino. Leccino and Frantoio cultivars are the principal raw material for Italian olive oils from Tuscany. Leccino has a mild sweet flavor. Picholine is grown in Southern France and is a green, medium size, eating olive with a nutty flavor. I am going to cure them all for eating purposes and will try a few different recipes to make it all more interesting.
Picholine – I have about 40 kg of Picholine and will make 15 Kg in the following way.
Wash and submerge olives in clean cold water with lemon juice of two lemons as well as the lemon peels. Replace the water and lemon every day for five days. Now crush the olives with the bottom of a bottle, but do not destruct the fruit. Submerge again in clean water with lemon juice and peels and again replace water and lemon every day for five days. Drain the water well and pack the olives in glass containers. Ad a quarter of a sliced lemon and one crushed garlic clove per 5 liters. Make enough brine solution of 100 g salt per liter of water to cover all the olives. Bring the brine to a boil, let it cool for five minutes only and then pour the hot brine over the olives. Make sure all the olives are covered. I have plastic grids that fit tightly into the bottles and these keep all the fruit under water. Now add a thin layer of olive oil to seal the product and immediately seal the jars tightly. Store in a cool dark place for three months before consuming.
We had a glut of lovely apricots during summer (not from the garden, but from a local farmer) and I preserved quite a few for use during winter. Yesterday I used some of my stash for a pie and got a thumbs up from the household, even from the grand kids who, as a rule, do NOT touch their lips to any “new” foods.
Winter Apricot Tart
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
Any sweet pastry recipe will do for the case. I make a short crust pastry dough without eggs, using butter, sugar and flour, baked until golden. Line a 300 X 60 mm round spring form cake tin, you can also use a pie dish (in my case) and press the moist dough up the sides of the tin and pat down the rest of the dough on the base. Add the filling when the crust is cooled slightly.
500 g preserved apricots
225 g sugar
225 g butter
100 g flour
4 eggs whisked
1 orange juiced
vanilla essence or vanilla bean paste
Mix everything together well and pour into pastry case. Bake for 40 minutes at 200 degrees. Glaze the tart with home made apricot jam
I am going to try the same recipe using preserved pumpkin, in place of the apricot, next week.