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Shaggy Ink Cap soup – recipe

Shaggy Ink Cap soup

I think the best way to deal with fungi, generally, is quick and simple. This particularly applies to shaggy ink caps. There are two reasons why – correct me if I’m wrong – you’ll never find fresh shaggys on a restaurant/bistro menu. They deliquesce (dissolve to inky black liquid) very quickly after picking and there is a widely held belief that alcohol should be avoided for several days each side of eating. I haven’t checked the alcohol theory myself, but I’ll let you know if I spew after my wine tomorrow evening [I didn’t]. The soup’s already eaten, and delicious it was, too. A delicate, silvery grey liquid with equally delicate flavour.

Shaggy Ink Caps - Coprinus comatus

Shaggys can be found in woodland, on path and roadside verges and are commonly seen, despite their apparent fragility, forcing their way up through roads and pavements The most fruitful patch I ever found was on a bank on the edge of a Tesco car park.

Shaggy Ink Caps
Salt & pepper

First, age and condition. If you come across a growth of shaggys with firm, closed caps as above, pick and get them to the kitchen as quick as you can. Don’t make the mistake I once did and think, “Ooh, I’ll come back for those tomorrow,” as tomorrow they’ll look like the three rear bodies below, which are past their best.

Remove and discard the stems, check for creatures and flick off any earth then chop to desired size. They’ll shrink a little on cooking. Put in a small pan and pour in milk to about ½ or ¾ way up the fungi pieces. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste with half your chopped parsley. Carefully bring to the boil then barely simmer for 5 minutes. Now you have a choice. Some recommend removing the poached fungi and discarding the poaching liquid. I favour serving and eating the lot as soup. Sprinkle with the rest of your parsley.

If you’re lucky, the spot where you picked this crop will yield another in a week or ten days.

Mature Shaggy Ink Caps



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Piccalilli – recipe


I adapted this from the recipe on the BBC’s Hairy Bikers site. There’s a milder alternative on the nipitinthebud blog, from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook

Traditionally, piccalilli contains a mixture of vegetables – cauliflower, courgette, small onions, maybe turnip or sweet pepper. I’ve made it with only carrots and sliced cooking onions, which are often on the supermarket cheap shelf, and am happy with the result.

500grm vegetables
2 or 3 onions
1 heaped dessertspoon English mustard powder
1 heaped dessertspoon ground turmeric
1 heaped dessertspoon chilli flakes or powder
150grm sugar
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour or plain flour
Cider vinegar

Chop the vegetables into your required size chunks. Put in a bowl in layers, sprinkling salt over each layer as you go. Cover and leave for 24 hours.

Run the bowl under the tap, swishing the salted veg around, drain then run the tap through them again. Set aside.

Slice onions thinly, put in a large pan, barely cover with cider vinegar and simmer for 15 minutes.

Mix mustard powder, chilli, turmeric and flour to a thin paste with vinegar, set aside for flavours to develop as the onions simmer.

Add drained veg to onions, add vinegar to barely cover again and return to simmer for 10 minutes.

Add spice mix, stir well and leave to simmer for final 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking (one tiny burnt bit will taint the whole batch).

Put in jars and leave for a month for flavours to develop and to take the edge off the vinegar. The above made a litre.

I made a batch 2 weeks ago, sampled it as this was cooking and it’s still a bit harsh, but I can tell it’s going to be scalp-tinglingly delicious. If you prefer less heat and bite, try the version on nipitinthebud

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Taste The Wild on Blue Peter – autumn foraging for sweets

Click Here To Play.

Chris Bax, creator of the Taste The Wild site, takes a Blue Peter presenter foraging and produces dandelion and burdock cordial (or beer if you prefer), hawthorn fruit leather and rosehip ‘mice’.

Chris Bax’s Recipes

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Green Walnuts in Syrup – recipe

Walnut Recipe

Kyrgyzstan recipe for green walnuts in syrup from “Wildwood – A Journey Through Trees” by Roger Deakin
Essential reading for anyone with an interest in trees, wood, food and the environment as a whole.

Wildwood - Roger Deakin

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Kidney Bean Dahl/Stew – recipe

Kidney Bean Dahl

1 tin kidney beans
1 tin tomatoes
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 chilli fresh or dried
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric
Salt & Pepper

Smash a clove of garlic with the flat of a knife, sprinkle with salt and put to one side.

Heat the pan you will be using, dry. Toss in the whole spices, move them around until the colours darken and they smell good.

Take out the spices and add cooking oil and sliced onions to the hot pan. Leave the onions on as low
a heat as you can for as long as you want, the longer the better. After a few minutes add the chopped chilli and crushed, salted garlic.

Grind the toasted spices in a pestle and mortar, or in a bowl with a rolling pin or spoon. They’ll crush easily. Turn up the heat and add all the spice powders, stir for a couple of minutes then add the kidney beans. After another minute or two, briefly run a potato masher over the kidney beans. You’re aiming to crush quite a few of them without leaving a mashed up mass.

Add the tomatoes and the other thinly sliced clove of garlic, then tip in two tomato cans of water. Add salt and pepper Turn up the heat and stir. When it comes to the boil, reduce to simmer and partially cover the pan.

This will be ready in 30 to 40 minutes. Check and stir every 10 minutes or so. Check for seasoning.

After 10 to 20 minutes add your herbs and greens. These can be whatever you fancy. I favour chopped comfrey or nettle leaves with rosemary and mint. The mint works particularly well.

You’ll find the slight crushing of the beans creates a thick, creamy sauce.

This will give 3 or 4 portions, served with rice, bread or potatoes.

You could add a dollop of yoghurt before serving, or add chopped potatoes with the tomatoes.

As always, the spices, herbs and their quantities are there to play around with until you’re happy.

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Cider, quick and cheap – recipe

Elderflower wine and cider

The elderflowers are all but finished and I was wondering what else to try – something wild or cheap. The wild fruits won’t be ready until autumn so I’ve had a go at cider, ‘turbo cider’ as it’s called on UK blogs and sites, ‘hard cider’ in the US, I believe. ‘Turbo’ refers to the speed at which it’s ready to drink, not the strength.

I found apple juice at .50p per ltr (although it’s labelled “100% pure apple juice – made from concentrate”, how can that be?) so this is costed at about £2.75 for 5ltrs, which compares well against shop bought cheap cider. My village shop sells cheap cider at £3.49 for 3ltrs. That’s 7.5% ABV compared to this recipe which is around 6% ABV, but the shop stuff is nasty, full of chemicals, tastes like supping from an ICI vat. And it comes in a deep blue plastic bottle, the same blue which was used for glass bottles in the 19th c. to warn of poisonous contents, which is quite amusing. I’m easily amused.

5ltrs Apple Juice
150grms Sugar
2tsps Yeast or recommended quantity of brewing yeast

Pour 3ltrs of juice into a clean demijohn. Heat a 4th litre to dissolve the sugar, then add to the demijohn. Check with your finger that it isn’t too hot, add the yeast, shake a little, put on the fermentation lock and watch the yeast spring to life. It’s fun. This will froth like billy-o for up to 24 hours, enough to blow off the fermentation lock and make a mess, so don’t add the 5th litre of juice until the initial volcanic reaction has subsided. Keep somewhere warm like an airing cupboard. Like many houses, mine doesn’t have one anymore, so I wrap demijohns in a sleeping bag with the top poking out.

I ran out of wine yeast about a year ago and have used Allinson’s quick acting bread yeast since, which works fine for me.

This should be ready for bottling in a week or two, once the fermentation is down to one plop a minute or less. Use strong glass or plastic fizzy drinks bottles, cleaned of course, adding ½tsp of sugar per litre if you want sparkling cider.

I might try making batches with a strip of cinnamon bark added, or maybe grated ginger or some of the elderflowers I’ve dried.

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Thai Green Chilli Sauce – recipe

Chilli sauce-overcooked

Eventually I want to open the cupboard and see a row of jars, each containing a chilli sauce from a different part of the world.  This is my first – not a complete success, but it’s a start.


125 gm fresh green chilies

3 or 4 cloves garlic

 25 fl oz cider vinegar

25 fl oz sugar

1 tsp salt


Chop the chillies, removing the seeds if you like, together with the garlic.

Slowly heat vinegar, salt and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

As it comes to the boil, stir in the chilli/garlic mixture and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

It should reach your desired thickness in 15 to 25 minutes.  Check it regularly by dropping a little on to a cold saucer, as it very quickly overcooks, as you can see above.

Not to worry.  Rather than use it as a sauce I’ll dissolve a teaspoon or so into various dishes to give some bite and sweetness.

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