Mushroom Soup with Brunost

I met up with a good friend recently and after we’d finished scaring each other silly about the stories we’d read online about Putin having a nuke that could take out Great Britain which was planning to use for that very purpose (I almost decided to go back on my alcohol free month at this moment. Who wants their last month alive sober?), conversation turned to Brunost as she is part Danish and as I recently discovered, I am 20% Norwegian (though my thunder was stolen a bit recently when I found out my brother in law is 50% Norwegian). Brunost is a brown cheese that originates in Norway and is as popular as cheddar is here. It’s made with the parts of the cheese you’d normally discard in the cheese-making process. Of course, I had to try it so I ordered some from a Scandinavian food supplier. (It’s readily available on Amazon but I thought I would pick up some pickled herring too.) I would describe this cheese almost like a savoury fudge, it tastes caramelly and buttery. In Norway, they often serve brunost melted on toast but I decided to do something more elaborate with it. I saw a recipe on this Nordic food blog ‘North Wild Kitchen’ for mushroom soup. I am a big lover of mushrooms so it really stood out to me. Sometimes I wonder if I love mushrooms and cherries so much just because my mum hates them though to be honest she hates anything that has a flavour (red wine, blue cheese, whiskey). It was a great idea to put Brunost in this soup, it really elevates it and was worth the order from Scandinavian Kitchen.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 shallots
  • 500g mushrooms (I used a mix of portabello and chestnut but you could go more fancy)
  • 20g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 litre stock (I used Massel chicken flavour)
  • 100g brunost (I used Gudbrandsdalen)
  • 150ml double cream
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Wash and chop up the mushrooms and set aside.

2.) Peel and finely dice the shallots.

3.) In a large casserole dish, melt the butter and add the shallots and porcini.

4.) Cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft.

5.) Add the mushrooms and cook for another 7 minutes.

6.) While these are cooking, grate the brunost and make up the stock.

7.) Add the stock to the casserole dish and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

8.) Add the brunost and cream and heat for a few more minutes to melt the brunost.

9.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Mushroom Peanut Butter Bao

It’s been a while since I made this and I had a bit of a struggle to find the recipe I’d used. I eventually got there – it’s from Meera Sodha’s ‘East’ – lots of great things in this book but because I already have a shelf full of cookbooks I bought this one on Kindle and I generally forget about the books I have on there. The struggle with bao (the only one), it’s not really a meal in itself. So I paired it up with asparagus and mangetout topped with chilli breadcrumbs. What would you serve with a bao? Since stopping eating meat, pork is probably the meat I miss the most, a large part because of the pulled pork baos that you get. This peanut butter mushroom sauce is a pretty good vegetarian alternative though. I do have a rice cooker which I used to steam the buns but it’s pretty small so I could only fit in two at a time which is something you may want to factor in when making them. This is definitely more of a weekend dinner.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 375g plain flour
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 225ml water
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 8 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 600g mushrooms
  • 50g peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt
  • 350g asparagus
  • 250g mangetout

Method

1.) Make the bao dough. Measure out the water, it should be tepid. Add the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes.

2.) To a large bowl, add the salt, the baking powder, then the flour, and the sugar. Once the yeast is done, add the water to the flour and mix into a dough.

3.) Knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft. Oil a bowl and put the dough in. Cover and leave to rise for 1.5 hours.

4.) Take out the dough, punch it to knock it back. Divide into 10 pieces. Roll the piece into a ball then flatten into a disc. Brush with oil and fold in half.

5.) Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 more minutes.

6.) For the filling, Wash and slice up the mushrooms. Peel and dice the garlic.

7.) Fry the mushrooms in a pan and whilst these are cooking, mix the soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic and sesame oil in a bowl.

8.) After 6 minutes, add the mixture to the mushrooms and cook until the sauce has thickened.

9.) Start steaming the bao, they need to steam for 8 minutes. I did 10 as it was the lowest time setting on my rice cooker.

10.) Whilst these are going, make up the vegetable side dish.

11.) Peel and dice the garlic and chilli. Bash up the peanuts. Heat up some oil in a frying pan and add the peanuts and chilli. Toast for a minute then add the breadcrumbs. Once they’re brown, Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

12.) Boil a pan of water and cook the veg for 5 minutes. Plate up the veg, top with the breadcrumb mix. Fill the baos with the mushrooms.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Garlic Mushrooms

I feel like I’m on a bit of an Italian theme in my life at the moment. I’m going to Rome for the first time in a couple of weeks, I’ve made a reservation at a Michelin starred restaurant, ‘Per Me Giuloio Terrinoni’. I’ve started learning Italian. I’ve ordered an electric Fiat 500 and now I’m posting about polenta. Polenta would definitely be one of the options I would consider if I had to choose a last meal. I normally like it with a big chunk of butter, some salt and parmesan. However, with this great recipe in ‘Good Housekeeping’s Vegetarian Collection’, you roast some butternut squash, blitz it and mix it in with the polenta. This adds a lot of flavour to the polenta and then you can cut down on the high fat stuff and get an extra hidden vegetable in your meal. Buon appetito!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 500g actual flesh)
  • 750ml stock
  • 175g quick cook polenta
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 400g mushrooms (I used one punnet shitake and one punnet normal mushrooms)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 150g baby spinach

Method

1.) Cook the squash, mine had some instructions on the packet for microwaving it so I microwaved it until soft, about 5 minutes.

2.) Blitz in a food processor or blender.

3.) Boil some water, add the polenta to the pan. Make up the stock, add the stock to the polenta and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and whisk it every now and again. When done, add the cream cheese and a pinch of salt. Press down some clingfilm on the top if you don’t want it to form a skin. (I don’t bother with this -I just give it a stir at the end and it tastes fine).

4.) Wash the mushrooms. Peel and finely dice the shallots and garlic cloves. Strip the thyme leaves from their sprigs.

5.) Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Cook for 6 – 7 minutes until soft. Add the rest of the oil, then add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and cook for about 5 minutes. Place the spinach on top of the pan and leave for about 2 minutes until it wilts then stir into the mushroom mix.

6.) Dish up the polenta and top with some garlicky mushrooms.

Miso Mushroom porridge

I’m not sure if this counts as ‘brinner’ – ‘breakfast for dinner’, because of the porridge. Maybe so as I’d happily eat it for breakfast too. I did very much enjoy having soup and mackerel for breakfast in Japan and Vietnam. The recipe from Deliciously Ella – Quick and Easy instantly appealed to me. I’d had congee before – savoury porridge with rice, but never with oats and I did enjoy it. I like to think of it as a Japanese-British fusion as I don’t think oats exist in Japan.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 120g porridge oats
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tsp miso paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 punnet shitake mushrooms
  • 1 lemon
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 avocado
  • 50g spinach
  • seasoning

Method

1.) Peel and dice the onion and garlic

2.) Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion and cook on a low heat for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until all is soft.

3.) Wash and roughly chop the mushrooms. In another pan, cook them in some oil until brown.

4.) When the mushroom is cooked, add 1 tsp of the miso, cut the lemon in half and squeeze in one half of the juice

5.) In a saucepan, add the oats, boil some water and measure out 100ml water and add in 50 ml milk. Add to the oats and cook on a low heat until desired porridge consistency is reached. You may want to add some more water.

6.) Peel and slice the avocado

7.) When close to done, add the spinach to the pan with the oats until wilted

8.) Squeeze in the juice of the other half of the lemon, add the rest of the miso paste, season and stir.

9.) Plate up the oats and top with the mushrooms and avocado.