One of my favourite childhood memories is of picking mushrooms with my father. It’s funny, because I detested mushrooms, but I loved picking them. There was something special about it; something almost magical. Maybe I’d read too many fairy tales or maybe it was the novelty of doing something with Dad, but I loved those little jaunts. We’d collect as many mushrooms as we could – once we picked such a lot we took off our woolly hats and turned them into mushroom carriers too – before returning home across the farm with the spoils. As long as I didn’t have to eat them, I was blissfully happy.
The Best Stuffed Mushrooms, Ever
The giant Portobello mushroom is the fillet steak of fungi. Slather one with this rich, olive and caper butter and you’ll convert the most ardent mushroom hater. Trust me, I used to be one. If you’re picking your own mushrooms, remember to leave the toadstools or the fairies will have nowhere to hold their meetings.
4 large Portobello mushrooms
1 cup kalamata olives, stoned
100g soft butter
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp capers
½ – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
Grated rind of 1 lemon
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 slices of stale rustic bread
Heat the oven to 210C. Line an oven tray with baking paper and put the mushrooms on top, flat side down.
Put the olives, butter, garlic, capers, chilli flakes and lemon zest in a food processor and whiz until it forms a smooth mixture. If you don’t have a processor you can use a stick blender or a mortar and pestle. If you don‘t have any of these things, just chop the olives and garlic finely, then mash everything together with a fork.
Divide this mixture between the mushrooms. Put the stale bread in the processor or blender (no need to wash it first) and whiz to form crumbs. Scatter these over the mushrooms.
Put the mushrooms in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden. Scatter the finely chopped parsley over the top, then serve with a crunchy green salad and some good bread. Serves four.