Morrete de Setas – Mushrooms with Potatoes

If like me, you are the sort of person who is not put off by strange translations into your native tongue of a dish you encounter on your travels, this one is for you. Coming across this dish in a small local restaurant near our mountains in Southern Spain, you’d probably read something like “Mushrooms to the wild, cooking with soft potatoes of the saffron dressing up in vinegar”. Or some such bizarre description.

It doesn’t even look that pretty, as the end dish is indeed “with soft potatoes” and has rather a look of mush about it. What you would be served with, however, is a dish with simple ingredients combined in a way you’ve probably never tasted before, and a flavour that makes you say “ooh, that’s so good…I really didn’t expect that”!

Morrete de Setas 004

Around our neck of the woods (or Up Our Mountain), the most commonly eaten mushrooms are Oyster mushrooms. We have grown them ourselves in the past and Big Man would often come home with a crate of them for me to turn into dishes like Mixed Mushrooms with Cinnamon and Lemon or Braised Mushrooms. This dish is made across Andalucía but is probably known by other names outside of the radius of our local villages. Here’s our local version, the simplicity of the ingredients hides a wonderful combination of flavours. It is vegetarian/vegan and can be served alone as a tapa or starter, or alongside other dishes as part of a meal. A poached or fried egg is a wonderful accompaniment.

Ingredients (to serve 6-8 as a tapa, 4 as a starter or 2 as a hearty main course)

  • 1 kg peeled and cubed potatoes (cut into small cubes)
  • About 600g of thickly sliced mushrooms (I used a mix of Shitake, Chestnut and Forestiere Mushrooms)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 level teaspoon of sweet pimentón
  • ½ level teaspoon of hot pimentón
  • A pinch of saffron or turmeric (in Spain though you find they usually use food colouring)
  • About 60g of stale bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • About 240ml water
  • About 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

You will need 2 frying pans (or you will need to cook the potatoes and mushrooms separately. In one pan with about ½ cm of oil to cover the bottom, slowly cook the potatoes until they are soft and just starting to brown at the edges. Mix occasionally as they cook. You don’t want them to be crispy like chips.

In another pan, add a little oil, the mushrooms and some salt and cover with a lid. Slowly braise the mushrooms until soft and releasing their juices. The potatoes and mushrooms both take about 20 minutes to cook.

Meanwhile, put the bread, water, garlic, spices and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into a blender jug and blend (I use a hand blender) until you get a mix which resembles slightly runny porridge.

Drain the potatoes from the oil and add to the mushrooms and pour in the bread/water mix. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until it all thickens up (you may need to add a splash more water). Just before serving, taste and season and add a further tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Think of the resulting taste in the same way that you would use lemon juice to “lift” a dish.

Serve with plenty of crusty bread and if you’re feeling a bit cheffy, some chopped parsley on top makes it look pretty. But don’t tell the local village ladies I said that as they’d be horrified at any such nonsense.

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Salteado de Espárragos, Habas y Setas – Sautéed Asparagus, Broad Beans and Mushrooms

This recipe of sautéed (or stir fried as very little oil is used) vegetables is fantastic as it can be used as a vegetable dish, a starter, or served with fried or poached eggs as a light lunch or supper. Add jamon or bacon for non vegetarians (as I did) and it becomes more filling or stir it into scrambled eggs.  See? Lots of options!

Ingredients

  • About 24 thin spears of asparagus, finely chopped (reserve spears)
  • ½ cup of broad beans (no need to skin)
  • 2 or 3 large oyster mushrooms cut into thin strips
  • About 6-8 mushrooms and stalks finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 4 slices of jamon or bacon finely chopped (optional)
  • Olive oil

Start by simmering the asparagus (not the tips) and broad beans for 3-4 minutes in boiling water. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and then cook the tips of the spears for a minute or two until tender, reserving them separately. The stock is good for using as a soup base or for cooking rice.

In a frying pan warm a little oil and gently cook the garlic until it is soft but not brown. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat in oil then cover and cook gently until the mushrooms are soft and giving off a little liquid.

Add the asparagus tips and broad beans, stir and cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. If you like your vegetables very tender, add half a cup of water and cook until it has evaporated. If using bacon or jamon, add, turn the heat up and fry until slightly crispy. Stir in the asparagus tips, season and serve.

Fried for Big Man…I prefer poached…

This would also be lovely used in a risotto or stirred into pasta….or add cream and mix with gnocchi.

Setas Asadas – Fire Roasted Oyster Mushrooms with Poached Eggs

I have mentioned previously that we have some mushrooms growing, intentionally I might add, in our garage.  It was a slow start, but we are now getting regular supplies of oyster mushrooms to enjoy.

After a week away, they had gone a little crazy, and some of the ordinary mushrooms which we are also growing had turned into monsters which I´ll chop up and use in sauces or soups.

Back from London with not much in the fridge, we had to “make do and mend”, as my grandmother used to say.  The fire was blazing merrily, so we put some of the larger mushrooms onto our parilla (which is a grill which you can sandwich things between) and cooked them over the embers of the fire. You could do this over a barbecue or even under the grill (for grilling I´d recommend you brush them lightly with oil first).

Once they were done we seasoned them with Maldon sea salt, freshly ground pepper then drizzled some olive oil over and added a little squeeze of lemon juice. With a softly poached egg and a plate of jamon we enjoyed a simple supper but felt that we had dined like Kings!

PS. Our dogs Luna and Alfi stayed with our lovely neighbours while we were away. Our dogs love being there and they get loads of walks.  It seems this week they discovered the joys of goat manure and spent lots of time playing in it, which was much less fun for our neighbours who had to deal with two very stinky dogs.  Alfi is now in need of a major haircut and they were both happily exhausted yesterday when we got them home.  I took this snap of them “recovering” from their week of fun whilst trying not to laugh too much at Alfi´s lack of energy to get either into or out of the bed.

Quick Braised Wild and Oyster Mushrooms

Remember our beautiful walk recently?  We had such a wonderful morning and came home with about half a kilo of wild mushrooms.

Because they were so fresh, I knew they would keep for a day or two, so in the first dish I made, I used half of them and kept things very simple.

We grow oyster mushrooms in our garage. No, don´t worry – there´s no nasty fungus creeping up the walls or anything.  You can buy bales of straw which are impregnated with mushroom spores and then wrapped in black plastic.  You cut slits into the plastic and keep the “alpaca” as these bales are known in the dark and ensure that they are kept damp.  About a week after acquiring your little treasure your first mushrooms will appear.  Just cut and eat.  Then when you´ve harvested as many as you can, you flip the alpaca over and cut a few more slits.  If you keep it going you can be eating your own grown oyster mushrooms for several months.

I took about the same quantity of oyster mushrooms as wild, cut the wild mushrooms into thick slices and tore the oyster mushrooms into strips.

In a deep terracotta dish (or you could use a frying pan) I added three crushed cloves to garlic to the mushrroms together with about 3 good tablespoons of olive oil, some Maldon (or kosher) salt, several good grinds of black pepper and two red chillis (these are optional).  I turned the heat up to high and as soon as the mushrooms began to sizzle I reduced it and covered them to let them sweat and get tender for about 10 minutes.  I then removed the lid and added a small glass of dry white wine and let everything bubble away until the liquid had reduced by half.

We ate this as a starter with plenty of rosé wine and some crusty bread to mop up the delicious juices.

 

PS. On a totally different subject – since I changed the look of my blog (i.e I changed the theme) my photos don´t seem to appear properly.  They are cut off on the right hand side!  Has anyone come across this and do they know how to resolve it? Thanks for any advice anyone might be able to offer me.