Cooking with Nathan : The Mushroom Diaries

It’s Monday morning, and Caroline arrives back from the market at Santa Marta with some mixed mushrooms – shiitake, pioppini, cornucopia, oyster – yes, it’s quite a selection!

There are also two kilos of them.

I’m not sure how we’re going to get through two kilos of mushrooms in a week. In fact we end up giving half a kilo away, but I still have no idea how we’re going to eat them all.

Nevertheless, we managed it. Here, then, are the details of our Week of Mushrooms, or, if you prefer, The Mushroom Diaries.

First, a few notes : I’ve experimented in the past with the best ways to store mushrooms and found that porcini, for example, will rarely last more than a day at room temperature. This time I stored them in the fridge, in paper bags, and they were still good six days later. Having said that, they didn’t leave mushroom for anything else…

<cough>…are you still here? I do apologise, I promise I won’t do anything like that again. Where was I?

Oh yes. Point two. Mushrooms need to be trimmed and cleaned, of course, but try and take it easy if washing them. Don’t just rinse them under the tap (I used to do this) because they’ll soak up water like a sponge.

As for cooking – well, for me, frying in butter is the only way. But whatever’s best for you…

So here we go (unless specified otherwise, ‘mushrooms’ equate to ‘mixed mushrooms’) :-

Monday : Mushroom and red wine risotto – and I really do recommend that you use red wine with this, it adds a greater depth of flavour. Intensely rich with that earthy flavour from the mushrooms. Very pleased with this one.

Tuesday : Mushroom omelette for lunch. Reminds me how nice an omelette can be. Then some friends take us out for dinner, where no mushrooms are involved.

Wednesday : Mushrooms with chicken livers on polenta. What really lifts this one is a soffritto of ginger and garlic. No, really, it does work. Here’s the recipe.

Thursday : For lunch I fry up the enormous oyster mushrooms and use them as a filling in a medium-sized ciabatta roll with some melted pecorino cheese (doesn’t have to be pecorino, it was just what I had in the fridge). A Prince Among Sandwiches. Some chips on the side would have made it perfect. We are taken out to dinner again (let me point out this does not happen as often as you might think) where, just for the hell of it, I have a prawn and mushroom pasticcio that was so good I think I should try making it at home.

Friday : We’re starting to see an end to it now, but there’s still enough left, together with a couple of sausages in the freezer, to make a sausage and mushroom pasta dish.

Saturday : I attempt to recreate the the prawn and mushroom pasticcio. I was pretty sure that no bechamel had been involved which simplifies things. I take the remaining shiitake mushrooms (perhaps 100g) and fry them up along with 200g of prawns (shelled weight). Then I build layers of lasagne sheets, a torn up mozzarella, and the prawn/mushroom mix. It goes in the oven for about thirty minutes at 200C (I cover it for the first twenty minutes to prevent to the top layer overcooking). Caroline says it’s her new favourite thing.

It’s Sunday night now, and there are no more mushrooms. It has to be said it was a pretty good week. I wonder what the next one has in store?

8 thoughts on “Cooking with Nathan : The Mushroom Diaries

  1. Love the books, and intrigued by the recipes. Can’t find one for cheese and walnut lasagna from the Venetian Masquerade anywhere? Have you got one?


    1. Hello Kirstie, and thanks for the kind words! I’ve cooked the cheese and walnut lasagne so many times now I’ve kind of forgotten where it originally came from. But the basics are – fresh lasagne sheets, béchamel, a ball of mozzarella, diced Asiago cheese (or something of a similar texture), and plenty of grated Parmesan to sprinkle on the top. Oh, and walnuts. Don’t forget the walnuts.

      This recipe is a pretty good one (I don’t use pine nuts – although, why not – and I don’t bother blanching the walnuts) and should work. Happy cooking!


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