Along the Grapevine


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Puffballs – what to do with them

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There are few, or maybe even no mushrooms which are easier to identify than puffball mushrooms. It is the perfect species for the non-expert like myself. However, foraging for mushrooms always requires caution, and this is no exception. So here are a few tips on how to identify puffballs with impunity.

There are several types of puffballs, but I am describing here the calvatea gigantea so as not to create confusion and because that’s what I find around here and have experience with.

Where they grow: In meadows, fields and deciduous forests.

What they look like: Completely spherical and white when immature. They have no stems or gills, but are connected to the ground by narrow string-like roots. They are soft and like a spongy bread in texture.

When to pick them: Once mature, they are no longer edible. When too small, you could confuse them with other mushrooms. They should be grapefruit size or larger, but still be completely white inside and out.

What to watch for: Any yellowing, development of spores or a mushroom cap developing. Do not eat any of these.

Look-alikes: poisonous earthballs which are hard and have a blackish interior.

If you are lucky enough to have any of these fine specimens accessible to you, there are several ways you can prepare them. Sauteed, cooked in stews, soups or casseroles, and even added to breads or grain dishes. They have a delicious but mild earthy flavour. Be forewarned however that, if frying, they will absorb a lot of oil and become soggy, so it is best to fry quickly with just a little oil brushed on them.

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I decided to fry some lightly. I sliced them, brushed them on both sides with a mixture of olive oil, salt, garlic and sumac, then browned them in a pan quickly on a high heat.

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These are delicious on their own, as a side dish or added to a sandwich. However, I used them for a brunch dish as a crepe filling. I added them to fried onions, herbs and seasonings and enough plain yogurt (or sour cream) to make a sauce. If needed, add a little thickener such as cornstarch.

Fill the prepared crepes (any kind), fold, cover with grated cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

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Puffballs - what to do with them on Punk Domestics

Linked to Fiesta Friday #84


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Spuds ‘n’ Buds Salad and Crepes with Wild Berries

DSC02273 A few days ago I prepared cured duck eggs in two different ways – one sweet and one salty. For Fiesta Friday 75 I wanted to make something to demonstrate ways to use these easy-to-make ingredients. At this time of year, salads offer so many possibilities straight from the garden. There is no need ever to make the exact same dish twice. Just now I have masses of ditch lilies in bloom, and never having used them in a salad before but knowing that that they taste very much like green beans, I figured I’d let the recipe make itself. DSC02270 I used boiled golden Yukon potatoes, a good handful of chopped chives, garlic, fermented dandelion buds and blanched lily buds with a light vinaigrette dressing. ¬†Fresh buds would be just as good, and offer a better presentation, since even a little cooking of the buds causes them to open a bit, but either works fine as far as taste goes. This was topped with shredded egg yolk giving it a salty cheese-like flavour. DSC02277 And of course, I couldn’t resist putting a fully opened lily on top, but there are plenty of other wild flowers I could have used to garnish it. The cured yolk is quite salty, so go easy with the seasoning. The sweet cured egg yolk, flavoured with lavender, needed a sweet fruity dish. Buckwheat crepes, made simply with buckwheat flour, 1 egg and enough milk or milk substitute to make a thin batter were the base for this recipe. Whipped cream, sweetened slightly with (forsythia) sugar and mixed with wild berries from the garden: raspberries, blackberries, red currants and gooseberries. Rolled up and garnished with sweet egg yolk made a rich and delicious brunch. DSC02283 The sweet version is not overly sweet, so you could even add sugar to the dish, either mixed in or sprinkled on top.