Tag Archives: shiitake mushrooms

Thai turkey and shiitake meatballs with spinach and coconut

IMG_20171017_194358_298

Finding the oomph to create new and inspiring recipes when life conspires against you is hard. The last couple of years have been something of a roller-coaster, one where I’ve barely recovered from one crisis before the next comes along. We all have periods like this in our life; times when we feel things will never calm down and our creative or vibrant spark proves elusive. I guess its like a form of writers block, or a creative grey patch where new ideas are impossible to muster. Instead of creating I find myself rushing through family dinner preparation, or shoving something together quickly while the hungry boys clamor to be fed. It’s a place where cooking is less, leisurely relaxing pursuit and more race against time. Does this all sound familiar?

Happily I am beginning to return to the old me and have started to experience the odd brain wave moment. Give me some random ingredients and a bit of head space and I’m in my element and now that work is winding down for the winter I’m returning to my roots. Experimental cooking, writing, photography (and possibly even a supper club!).

For added incentive I’m on a self enforced weight loss programme. I’m trying to ditch the carbs and refined sugars in a bid to drop a dress size. Now I’m not generally prone to following fad diets, but despite making excuses for my weight gain (contentment, new relationship, etc) I have to admit that its most likely down to menopause (a bastard to women in their forties) and despite being pretty fit all my life I’m no longer able to rely on my metabolism and exercise. Its crap. But I’m looking for ways to eat well without piling on the pounds.

I’ve ditched potatoes, pasta, rice and bread. I’m limiting sweet things and trying to stick to fruit and nuts as snacks. It’s hard to come up with interesting things when my partner is picky as hell, but at least my fourteen year old eats anything put in front of him (an understatement…the boy never stops eating. He can clear a fruit bowl in one sitting..oh, except if its mash potato apparently; because mashed potatoes taste different to boiled ones. Yes that one confused me too..go figure).

Anyway, with this new and rather limited remit I set off on an experimental journey. What I came up with ticked everyone’s boxes: A cheaper and lighter meat, my favourite Thai ingredients, mushrooms to keep the other half happy (they are his favourite food in all the world) and just lots of it (for the teen). The boys ate their meatballs with rice and I made myself some courgette noodles with my spiralizer.

For the meat balls:

500g turkey mince

Half a medium onion finely chopped (save the other half for the sauce)

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

4 shiitake mushrooms finely chopped (from a 125g punnet)

an inch of fresh ginger finely chopped

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon Thai curry paste

1 egg

Groundnut oil

For the sauce:

1 small red bell pepper thinly sliced

the other half of the onion

the rest of the shiitake mushrooms

a handful of shredded spinach or chard

2 cloves of garlic

tin of coconut milk

Thai curry paste (enough for your own taste) I used a teaspoon because I can’t tolerate too much chilli

Juice of one lime

Chopped coriander to finish

For the meatballs: Either in a food processor, or by hand, pulse the onion, mushrooms, ginger and garlic until finely chopped. Add the turkey mince, fish sauce, curry paste and egg and pulse again until combined. Form into small balls the size of golf balls.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the balls in batches until browned all over. Put to one side in a bowl while you make the sauce.

Add the remaining onion, red pepper, garlic and stir fry for one minute. Add the remaining shiitake mushrooms and the Thai curry paste and stir fry for another minute. Add the coconut milk and lime juice and return the meatballs to the pan. Simmer until the sauce has reduced and meatballs are cooked. Stir in the spinach or chard right at the end and allow to wilt into the sauce. Finish with a good sprinkling of coriander.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Asian cookery, home cooking, local produce, Recipes

*WIN* a gourmet Nantmor mushroom selection & grow your own shiitake block

Tucked away deep in the heart of Snowdonia, just a couple of miles outside Beddgelert in the Aberglaslyn woods is Nantmor; a sleepy village that is home to The Mushroom Garden, a wonderful, innovative company, that cultivates and sells Welsh grown exotic mushrooms. I’ve been meaning to go visit the owners Cynan and June for about two years now and yesterday I finally got round to it!

Just on the edge of the village you might just see their specially designed, temperature controlled units as you drive past, but you would never know just by looking what wonderful secrets lie hidden within. The green unprepossessing lock-ups contain lots of specially prepared fruiting blocks. They start their growing cycle in the “summer” container where the air is warm and humid. Once they begin to produce small popcorn like swellings (the beginnings of the mushroom fruiting bodies) they move into the “Autumn” container which is kept damp and cool and allows the mushrooms to grow in a ‘natural’ temperature. Within a couple of weeks the mushrooms are ready to harvest.

Cynan started The mushroom Garden in 2004 after taking part of a project which aimed to diversify agriculture in North Wales by looking at alternative crop options. The project flourished and the company has since won awards, including a bronze medal at the True Taste of Wales awards in 2011 and The National Trust Fine Farm Product Award in 2009 and fans UK wide. They are permanently on the menu at Castell Deudraeth (the Portmeirion restaurant) and have also been used by Peter Jackson at Maes y Neuadd and Aled Williams at Cennin.

Cynan has himself gained the moniker “the mushroom man” and is often used by the media as a fungi expert.

picure courtesy of The Mushroom Garden

Picture used with permission of The Mushroom Garden

I use these mushrooms all the time, whether its part of a supper club dish, a formal dinner or in my cooking at home. They are fantastic in a risotto where their earthy flavour is predominant, or added as a subtle undertone to a casserole. Last year they formed part of my Conwy Feast dish; slow cooked Venison with wild mushrooms, herbs and local dry cure bacon. It was a winner.

As a special treat, The Mushroom Garden and I have teamed up to offer one lucky reader the chance to win three tubs of  dried gourmet mushrooms, plus their very own mushroom growing block (complete with instructions).

To win just follow the instructions below.

Competition details

You can enter by any of the following methods…but only do it once per method!! If you enter using all four, you have a higher chance of winning. Good luck!

This competition is now closed. The lucky winner was Olivia Bier from Devon. Well done Olivia!!

TERMS & CONDITIONS
The winner will be randomly chosen by the Random website
The competition is only open to residents of the UK & Eire
If the winner hasn’t replied within two days to the organiser’s email, a new winner will be randomly drawn.

If you are not lucky enough to win this time and don’t live close enough to visit any of the produce markets where they are sold, The Mushroom Garden are now in the process of setting up an online shop which you can reach by clicking here.

Good luck!!

4 Comments

Filed under British food, local produce, produce markets, seasonal food, slow food, Uncategorized