Tag Archives: cheese

New Post, for New Site … Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli …

A beautiful recipe to introduce my new site … to read the whole post click here…

Just to polish off the fresh egg pasta thread, here’s the recipe for the ravioli filling.

When something works, why change it!? This recipe is a timeless combination of baby spinach, creamy ricotta and fresh herbs, all cradled in a springy homemade pasta and anointed with the majestic flavour of sage.

To read the full post click here…

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And so to the fungi, the mushrooms, the spores … Wild Mushroom and Goats Cheese Pasty Recipe

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

The finished mushroom pasty article...

The finished mushroom pasty article...

I’ve found myself justifying my blog title namesakes of late and therefore promise to keep the posts brief and to the point. Again the scene: a damp Saturday morning, the bewer, a hangover and a mission.


1. Clear the hangover
2. Keep the bewer happy
3. Pick mushrooms

1 out of 3 aint bad?!

Armed with my innocent looking, bravado inspiring, forager romanticising, £1 “Mushroom Hunting” by Collins, from the local charity store I endeavored into the wilds of Wimbledon Common (pre-empt: No Wombles on this trip). Now a “common” to a common man such as myself pertains to a … common, a field or grassland if you will, not a forest. Granted the eerie sounds of fauna are replaced with the A4 and various other major road truncations but here I’ve found a woodland Mecca on my doorstep (via the 219 Bus from Balham to Wimbledon Broadway and a 15 minute walk up the hill).

Excited with my Earth Balls, disappointed with their promised nauseating tendencies, reinvigorated by the crop of Cortinarius, again disappointed by their kidney failure inducing properties but elated by the Birch Puffball and the Yellow Swamp Russula. 3 hours later, with a chest proudly puffed, I had a babies-fistful of edible mushrooms and after a swift, rather fitting pint of real ale it was on to the kitchen.

Not wanting to detract from the earthy flavours of the mushrooms it was a toss-up between buttery mushrooms on toast or the pasty option. The latter winning out.

This recipe is so simple and really does justice to the mushrooms. To avoid swamping the dish with the richness from butters, I recommend adding the goats cheese. The creaminess of the cheese will obviously compliment the butters but the slight sharpness harnesses all the gout inducing goodness and perks the dish, helping unravel the complexities that may have otherwise been lost.

I must confess that the foraged readies did need a helping hand. I simply bulked up the puff pastry filling with Portobello mushrooms from Trinity Stores in Balham, Merchant Gourmet pre-cooked chestnuts, just a touch of seasoning and served the beast with a dressed bitter leaf salad.

(A Cheats) Wild Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese Pasty

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main meal):
400g wild mushrooms, wiped with any nasties removed and coarsely chopped (or try oyster, field, chestnut, or any other in season mushroom)
70g salted butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
100g pre-cooked chestnuts, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, woody stalks removed
splash of white wine
handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
100g tangy Welsh goats cheese
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
freshly ground salt and black pepper
1 beaten egg

To serve:
1 handful each radicchio and frisee leaves
a glug of good olive oil
juice 1/2 lemon

Method:
Pre-heat a baking tray in the oven to 200℃.

In a large sauté pan over a medium to low heat, sweat the onions with a knob of butter for 10 minutes. Once translucent, add the thyme sprigs, the remaining butter, mushrooms and chestnuts.

Once the mushrooms have released their juices and reabsorbed them (approximately 15 minutes) add the splash of white wine to remoisten. Cook for a further 5 minutes and season to taste with freshly ground salt and black pepper.

Cut the puff pastry into a circle with a diameter of approximately 25cm. Add the parsley and the lemon zest to the to the pan and give one final stir. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the centre of the pastry disk, leaving a 5cm outer ring for crimping. Dot the mixture with the goat’s cheese and carefully fold one-side of the pastry to the other to make a bulging semi-circle.

From the bottom point of the semi circle, pull the 5cm rim over onto itself and tuck underneath each fold to completely encapsulate the mixture. Brush with the beaten egg and carefully transfer the pasty to the preheated baking tray. Dress the leaves with lemon juice and oil.

Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until the pasty turns a golden biscuit colour.

Fanfare the pasty from the kitchen to the table on a wooden chopping board, Allow the chosen few to serve themselves and watch them happily fight for the corner you haven’t already laid claims to. Cleanse each pasty mouthful with a chomp on the dressed leaves.

The marrow after the courgette before … Stuffed Courgette Flower Recipe

The Food Flunky Blog is now hosted here (thefoodflunky.com) click here to see the new site and read all your favourite posts!! Tom aka The Food Flunky

Before the battering ... fershly picked courgette floweres

Before the battering ... freshly picked courgette flowers

I think, without naming names, that for the majority of my tender years I’ve been misled into chomping marrows rather than courgettes.

Now I’m sure that a marrow’s pure economies of scale justifies over boiling, steaming and/or over processing this off-white, green skinned vegetable and passing it off as “courgette” to unsuspecting school children, nieces/nephews and grandchildren but enough is enough. Through pure coincidence I’ve now had two tastes of zucchini zeitgeist and suspect that I (would have) always (given the chance) loved courgettes but I still rather dislike marrow (I’m happy to stand corrected on my current false-economies-of-marrows view point. All marrow recipes will be gratefully received info@tomdowson.com.

My recent mid-summer encounter with, what I was told were, lightly charred sliced baby courgettes, tossed in fruity olive oil, with toasted pinenuts, sultanas and plump shredded mint stirred through was the first welcome revelation. The simple dish giving an awesome prelude to the second and to my first forray into the rather strange courgette flowers.

Because of my initial distaste towards the “courgarrows” that I’ve been fed over the years, I’ve always chosen to ignore these alien spore like flowers as nothing more than chefy non-entical foodstuffs. How wrong could I have been!

I’ll set the scene … see post: Provenance, Perseverance, Preserves …

… so anyway the afore mentioned PYO centre had healthy crops of … yes your guessed it … courgettes! Still with slight scepticism I picked fruit plus flower with caution. The last thing I wanted to discover was that the wool had been pulled yet again and I’m back in courgarrow purgatory. I was confident that I could do justice to the mainstay of the vegetable using the recipe above, but the recipe below was one of the most triumphant cooking moments that I’ve ever had to date.

Like a mulberry hand-bag (so I’ve been told), you can dress a courgette flower up or down (in this case a simple batter), and whatever you put in (ricotta), the contents are invariably going to be given auto kudos because of what they’re housed in. Essentially both are simply great taste!

I don’t want to say anything more on the subject (nor on my handbag fetish) the recipe and result do more than enough talking, other than to: proclaim my undying love for courgettes, insist that you must try the recipe and emphasise my utter remorse that I may have to wait until next season to produce the same again!

Stuffed Courgette Flowers


Ingredients (enough 2 as a large starter):

7-8 fresh courgette flowers (carefully washed if necessary)

For the filling:
200g ricotta cheese
75g Parmesan cheese
1tsp fresh shredded basil
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2tsp of lemon zest
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the batter:

100g plain flour mixed
110ml ice-cold water
extra lightly seasoned plain flour for dusting

For deep frying:
750ml sunflower oil

To serve:
homemade Balsamic vinegar reduction or shop bought version
whole basil leaves and thyme sprigs

Method:

If necessary wash the courgette flowers carefully, lightly dry and set aside.
Pour the sunflower oil into a large pan and set over a medium heat.

Mix all of the filling ingredients together and carefully spoon into the courgette flowers. Twist the tips of the flowers to enclose the filling.

When the oil has reached a sufficient temperature (a cube of bread should brown and crisp in approximately 5-7 seconds), lightly roll the flowers in the seasoned flour and then holding the flower by the tips, dip into the batter mix and then straight into the hot oil. Fry in 2 batches.

When golden and crisp remove the flowers with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll.

Drop the basil leaves and thyme sprigs into the oil for literally 10 seconds to crisp and remove.

While still hot and crisp, plate up the courgette flowers, drizzle over the Balsamic reduction and top with the deep-fried herbs. Devour, making as many ridiculous breathy vocal sounds as possible when you inadvertently burn your mouth on the filling.