This is one of my mother's favourite things to make for a lunch under the tree. It tastes even better the following day, so is perfect make-ahead food. In theory, leftovers could be sliced for pasta sauce (with some fresh butter, wine and cream), or added to cold weather stews. But there won't be any leftovers. There never are.
When I know that I am going to be baking a sourdough loaf, I think of these mushrooms The bread and pan juices are a perfect match and make a wonderful meal.
Mushrooms à la Grecque – serves two
What defines à la Grecque? Lemon juice, olive oil, fennel and coriander. The acid and oil emulsify at the last moment.
You can use any sort of mushroom, really, though button mushrooms are easiest. If you use larger oyster mushrooms, hen of the woods, or portabellos, slice them, first (quite thickly).
Don't get too hung up on the measurements. Add more mushrooms if you like. When you've made it once you'll have the hang of it, and can take it from there.
1 cup water
1 cup of white wine
2 fennel fronds, with stalk
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, or about four seedheads of fennel
1 celery stalk
2 whole cloves of garlic in their skins
20 black peppercorns
20 coriander seeds, toasted
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon sugar
1 lb fresh button or small portabello mushrooms, de-stalked
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (about 2 teaspoons)
Salt to taste
Use a wide saucepan that will accommodate the mushrooms in a single layer. Combine the water, wine, fennel fronds, fennel seeds or heads, celery, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, bay leaves and sugar in the saucepan. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the button mushrooms, topside down, and lower heat to medium-high. As they cook they exude a lot of liquid: when the caps start to fill with mushroom juices (about 10 - 12 minutes), flip them. Cook another 12-15 minutes or until a tested mushroom is tender.
When the mushrooms are cooked, and the pan juices are reduced by half, taste, and add salt. Still over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the lemon juice. This will cause the sauce to emulsify. Taste again. The result should be salty-sweet-sour in equal proportions.
Turn the mushrooms and their sauce into a shallow bowl and serve at once, with bread for mopping (or a spoon, for the Paleo-people). They are very good the next day, too, at room temperature.
This recipe appeared in Issue 42 of Gardenista, as part of a story about fennel.