I always look out for wild mushrooms at this time of year, as they are so good and abundantly available. I wouldn’t ever go foraging on my own, despite owning several mushroom books, as I don’t have enough knowledge, but I’d definitely be up for an organised foray with an expert.
I picked up some really nice wild mushrooms early this morning at the market. My selection included oyster, shiitake, maitake and a few field mushrooms, but creamed mushrooms would be good with any selection of fresh, earthy wild mushrooms.
I think its best to eat mushrooms as soon as possible, they go slimy and pretty nasty if you keep them for too long. I don’t like to leave them wrapped in plastic either, a paper bag or basket is best.
I made creamed mushrooms with my batch and mushrooms on toast is the perfect quick supper for this time of year.
With the rest of the mushrooms, I decided to make retro mushroom vol-au-vents. My prawn and avocado vol-au-vents recipe is actually my most viewed post, so I thought I would have to do the other vol-au-vents that I remember from the family Christmas parties from all those years ago.
The mushroom vol-au-vents were one of the first things to go from the buffet table (unlike my poor Grandma’s prawn ones). They were always made from those creamed button mushrooms from a can and placed into frozen pastry cases. I was never a fan, but I thought it was time to bring back the retro mushroom vol-au-vent and use fresh, wild mushrooms, thyme and home made cases (I did buy the ready-made puff pastry though!) The result was a really nice, seasonal treat that makes the most of the wild mushrooms that are around right now, but would also be great on a Christmas buffet table as a tasty nostalgic reminder.
A selection of wild mushrooms – I used two punnets
Knob of butter and a little splash of olive oil
1 onion or a couple of shallots, finely chopped
Small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sheets of puff pastry, or you could use frozen cases
1 egg, beaten
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F
Cut out the bases for the vol-au-vents and place on a lined baking sheet or parchment. I got 12 bases from one sheet. Then cut out another 12 from the second sheet of pastry and cut holes out of the second set with a smaller cutter.
Brush the bases with beaten egg and place the rings onto the bases. If the pastry warms up and becomes difficult to handle, place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it up.
Brush the tops with the egg and bake for 12-15 minutes or until they are golden, crisp and all puffed up. You can also brush the ‘holes’ with egg and bake those alongside the pastry cases. Leave on a cooling rack while you make the filling.
Tear up the mushrooms or roughly chop and strip the thyme leaves from the stems if they are woody and give them a chop too.
Heat the butter and oil until foamy and add in the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. When they are translucent, add in 1-2tsp of thyme leaves and then the mushrooms. Cook them until they are nice and golden and then stir through a little cream and check the seasoning.
At this point, you can serve the creamed mushrooms on some toasted, buttered sourdough, or fill the vol-au-vents. I had enough for both!
For the vol-au-vents, I simply press down the centre that rises up as they bake (I don’t bother docking the raw pastry with a fork) and fill with the creamed mushrooms, sprinkle over a little more thyme leaves.
Serve as a canapé with or without the lids depending on how retro you want to be!
These are really good in a larger pastry case too, served with a green salad as a first course or a light lunch.