April 10, 2011 | Posted in:Recipes

As I travelled around the bay this week I couldn’t help noticing that Autumn is on the way, admittedly daylight saving was a bit of a give away. More than that though is the changes on the land, the leaves starting to change colour and fall and the different foods starting to show themselves.

Which leads me to mushrooms, how come they seem to appear overnight? All over our garden, in every damp shady spot they seem to be flourishing where last week there was nothing and it’s really tempting to give them a taste, however a quick word of warning be very sure that it’s edible and not toxic before you do.

When we had a lodge in Scotland we used to look forward to the autumn when the Chanterelles would start to appear in the woods, as a young chef I’d head off with a basket and pick as many as I could find and pop them on the menu that night, That was until I found out that there were some very similar that were highly poisonous, I guess that was the moment when I realised that research and knowledge were actually quite important and luck maybe should not be relied on The majority of mushroom-forming fungi in New Zealand are not poisonous, but it is difficult to identify some species, and unknown fungi should not be eaten.

That said there are some great mushroom businesses in the bay and if all else fails then there are always dried wild mushrooms available in most speciality food stores and even some supermarkets. Interestingly dried mushrooms will generally give your dish a much more intense mushroomy flavour as mushrooms are mostly water and drying obviously removes that.

Open Ravioli of Wild Mushrooms

Serves 4

1 batch of ravioli pasta:

75g strong plain flour

25g semolina

1 medium egg, beaten

1 tsp olive oil

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

200g fresh mushrooms, wiped and sliced

15g butter

20g dried porcini

½ cup Vermouth or dry white wine

½ cup cream

Pinch fresh thyme

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Mix the flour and semolina in a bowl and add the beaten egg, olive oil and seasoning. Knead to smooth dough. Add a few drops of water, but not too much or the pasta will become brittle. Rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

soak dried porcini mushrooms in cold water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, sweat off fresh mushrooms in butter until soft. Add vermouth/white wine and reduce. Add stock from dried porcini and reduce. Add cream and cook for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add porcini, thyme and season to taste.

If you have a pasta machine, roll pasta dough through three times, the final time at the second thinnest setting. Otherwise use a rolling pin which will do the job as well except that it might not be so neat! Cut the pasta into 7cm diameter circles. Boil a pan with plenty of salted water, and then drop in the circles. They cook almost immediately, certainly within a minute. Drain and lay pasta on a damp cloth or oiled tray side by side and keep warm until serving. Place one circle on plate, spoon over mushroom filling and place a second circle on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and olive oil and serve with warm crusty bread.

For me a Pinot Noir is the best fit for wild mushrooms, that warming spiciness just works so well on an autumn evening. Try the Morton Estate White label Marlborough Pinot Noir, or if your feeling flush splash out on the Ata Rangi from Martinborough, a bit expensive but right up there with the best Pinot Noirs in the world

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