It's mushroom season and after a day's mushroom foraging in Oberon, I wanted to make something delicious with these striking saffron milk cap mushrooms. These beautiful mushrooms are a bright orange in colour and lend themselves to creamy flavours and garlic. Enter this tart with a parmesan cheese crust, sauteed saffron milk cap mushrooms and a creamy almost custardy cheese centre!
Saffron milk cap mushrooms (or lactarius deliciosus) can be hard to find and I don't think you'll get these at a supermarket. But I have found these at the green grocers on occasion and now is the season for them. Or you can forage for them too but please do so with a guide on your first time and read these tips too.
These gorgeous mushrooms need to be treated very gently. We were warned that they bruised easily but we didn't realise exactly how easily bruised they are. If you even so much as touch the gills on the underside of the mushroom, they will develop a bruise that tastes fine but is visually unappealing as it looks like rampant mold. We were lucky that we picked a lot of them because I wanted to make something that showed off the beauty of these Autumnal gems without them looking bruised.
Speaking of bruises and injuries I had to rough it a bit while I was away. I was travelling with Ivy and we were booked into a place that was a bit alarming for me. It was a caravan and tourist park. I did ask if there was anywhere else we could stay but I was told that that was the best location for us. I figured it was for one night so how bad could it be?
When Ivy and I arrived, we both stared at our accommodation with open mouths. Yes we are city girls and no we don't camp but this was grim at best. We both agreed that it looked like a movie set where a sex worker takes her clients and is then murdered in the night by a guy in a ski mask along with a bunch of hapless teens. Ivy quickly dubbed them "murder cabins". "I'll meet you outside your murder cabin," we'd say to each other because there was no internet and we were the only ones staying in this deserted section of the park.
The cabins were also dirty and the floor felt gritty and unclean as I walked on it barefoot so I quickly donned my thongs. I got another bad feeling when I saw that they asked the guests to clean and put away all the crockery and cutlery which I don't like because I don't know how well people clean things and quite frankly I don't trust that system at all.
Feeling icky but wanting to stay focused on my work I sat down on the bed to do some writing and then I felt a bite. Then another and then it felt like at least 20 creatures were biting me. I jumped in the shower quickly hoping that whatever was biting me would quickly dislodge. I examined myself and saw that I was covered in about 40 bites on my legs and arms. But the worst was yet to come. Sometimes people react straight away to bed bugs, other times the real reaction comes 9 days later.
And as if by clockwork 9 days later the bites swelled and became excruciatingly itchy and bright red. All I thought about was scratching them. It got so bad that I had to pop antihistamines to avoid scratching myself to death. And that Dear Reader, is what convinced me that nature is fine at a distance but nothing beats a lovely, clean hotel suite and perhaps someone to forage for mushrooms for you!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever been bitten by bed bugs? And would you trust a place that asked guests to clean up? Have you ever tried saffron milk cap mushrooms?
Saffron Milk Cap Mushroom Tart With Ash Brie & Thyme
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour 15 minutes resting/chilling time
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 2 cups plain all purpose flour
- 150g/5ozs. butter, cubed and cold
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2-2/3 cup ice water
- 5 saffron milk cap mushrooms in various sizes
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil for frying
- 150g/5ozs. ash brie, sliced (I used one with ash in the centre)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 sprigs thyme
To clean saffron milk cap mushrooms, soak and clean them in a vinegar cleaning solution (6 cups water with 1/2 cup white vinegar).
Step 1 - First make the pastry as it needs to rest. Place the flour, butter, cheese and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the egg and 1/2 cup of water and process until it starts to come together. Knead it on a floured surface adding a bit more water if it needs it to become a cohesive dough. Cover with clingfilm and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Step 2 - Spray a 31x21cm tart tin with a loose bottom with oil spray. Flour a surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough so that it can fit your tart tin and trim off any overhang. Place in the fridge for 45 minutes or freezer for 15 minutes.
Step 3 - While it is resting, cook the mushrooms. Keep the smaller, more pristine looking ones whole and slice up the rest. Add the oil to a frypan on medium heat and cook the garlic and then the mushrooms. They should still retain a bright orange colour. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.
Step 4 - When the pastry has rested, preheat oven to 200C/400F and spray a sheet of foil with oil and press it gently against the pastry. Fill with baking weights or dried beans or rice and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil with beans and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cooked.
Step 5 - Reduce oven heat to 150C/300F. Whisk the eggs and cream together with the parmesan cheese. Pour into the baked tart case and then top with the mushrooms and brie slices. Place the thyme on top and carefully move to the oven (try not to splash the cream mix onto the mushrooms). Bake for 30-35 minutes or until just set. Serve warm.