An unexpected break in wind and rain had us heading out on a late season mushroom forage, via an irresistible vegan cafe forage at our favourite Cornish Vegan first. Along for the ride was BigBroVegan, aka he of the VeganLaptopLunchbox fame. We'd promised ages ago to take him as an additional 'shroom hound, but a series of events had conspired to delay our joint foray so we were delighted that he could join us in our last minute decision to head out.
On our desired list of ingredients were either Parasols or Agaricus Macrosporus, both chunky 'meaty' mushrooms suitable for our plans to include in tacos for our dinner later. Suitably secured in our rattly but treasured wreck called Pug (our 256,000 mile Peugeot 306 who actually should have a whole blog to himself such has been his infamous life story!), BigBro was transported to our secret 'shrooming location. We would have blindfolded him but here is a man of trust and substance proven over years of service to the cause (animals not mushrooms!). We admit we were busking it this late in the mushroom season but the recent warmer and wetter weather had given us hope for our normally reliable patch. Luck was on our side. An initial find of a solitary Agaricus was followed by a plethora of mature Parasol groups. We were pleased we hadn't led BigBro on a wild mushroom hunt of the goosey kind.
With bags full of 'shroomy goodness, a mizzly darkness starting to descend, and our need to retrieve Miles our camper van from our wonderfully eccentric mechanic on the north coast, we headed back, dropping off BigBro on the way. With both our old automobilic treasures returned home, the fire was lit just as the Cornish mizzle set in good and 'propur'. Dinner needed to be simple, easy, hearty, and obviously include our mushroom swag. That is when the oven can become your best friend that quietly works whilst you sit in front of the roaring fire drinking a glass of vino tinto. With a bit of oven shuffling and minimal prep, this is what we came up with. You can put the sweet potato from the taco dish in at the same time as the first baking of the aubergines from the second dish, and then the two dishes can just be cooked along together.
Simples Wild Mushroom Tacos
This made 6 tacos. You don't have to use wild mushrooms and Portabello mushrooms would be a good substitute (use the equivalent of about 10 as an idea of quantity as all mushrooms shrink when baked).
Halve a large sweet potato and bung it in the oven at about 200 degrees C. Cook this until soft (other stuff from the second recipe can cook at the same time). Once soft, scrape out the flesh, leaving the skin on the baking tray, and mash it in a bowl with some chipotle or mole paste to your level of desired spiciness. Put the mixture back into the skins and let it cook a bit longer but don't let it dry out.
Meanwhile chunk up or thickly slice your mushrooms and put in a baking dish. Dribble over some soya sauce to taste (we found a chipotle soya sauce which is good and went with the Mexican theme), some vegan Worcester sauce, some olive oil and a grind or two of black pepper. Bake these in the oven (they won't take as long as the sweet potato though) stirring part way through.
When you are almost ready to eat, warm up the taco shells. Slice up the potato halves to even out between the six tacos and squish gently into the bottom of each. Top with mushrooms and a sprinkle of coriander.
Simples Aubergine Bake
We're greedy so this serves 2 very nicely thank you!
Slice 2 large aubergines into half inch thick rounds. Oil up a bit and bake them at 200 degrees C until nicely soft and browned (about 20 minutes in our ancient oven). You can bake these the same time as the sweet potato above.
Meanwhile, fry one large sliced onion until soft and then chuck in some minced garlic. I used one clove but if Phil hadn't been watching, two would have been snuck in. Once starting to brown, add a 400g can of chopped tomatoes, one tablespoon of tomato puree and a handful of torn fresh basil leaves (to taste), along with salt and pepper to season. Let this sauce bubble away gently for 10 or 15 minutes.
Lightly oil a baking dish and put a layer of the baked aubergines in. Top with a layer of the sauce. Add a layer of your favourite vegan grated cheese. Keep layering and finish with some cheese so you get a bubbly loveliness on top at the end once baked. Pop the dish in the oven, again still 200 degrees C, for about 15-20 minutes but basically until it is all bubbly and lovely.
So there you go; serve the tacos and the aubergine bake with some fresh green salad, maybe a bit of avocado, some mayo and whatever else takes your fancy.
PLEASE NOTE - DO NOT EAT ANY FORAGED MUSHROOMS UNLESS YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE PICKING. THE WRONG KIND OF MUSHROOMS CAN MAKE YOU VERY ILL, KILL YOU, OR AT BEST TAKE YOU SOMEWHERE YOU DON'T INTEND OR WANT TO GO!