Sheila Spence talks autumn recipes and foraging

Providing something to cuddle up inside with on an autumn evening after a day of foraging in the British countryside, Sheila Spence shares her recipe for wood cauliflower pieces

Wood cauliflower

Hedgerow fruit, nuts and fungi should be in plentiful supply during the coming autumn months: brambles, sloes, bilberries, hazelnuts, sweet chestnuts and are a few good edible fungi are reasonably easy to identify if you take care. Field mushrooms of course, cep or penny buns, hedgehogs (the fungal type of course) and chanterelles. One of my favourite edible fungi is the wood cauliflower (sparassis crispa), it grows at the base of pine trees and is readily identified as it looks like an opened vegetable cauliflower. As always when collecting any wild food, only pick what you can identify 100% and never over-pick!

Wood cauliflower pieces 

Ingredients (Makes a bowlful to share)

- Wood cauliflower (sparassis crispa) cleaned and broken into pieces the size of a plum 
- Tempura batter 
- Four tablespoons self-raising flour 
- Four tablespoons cornflour 
- One egg white 
- 1/4 Teaspoon salt 
- 1/4 Teaspoon caster sugar 
- One teaspoon sesame or light truffle oil 
- 80ml Ice water 
- Smoked sea-salt crystals to sprinkle

Method

- Firstly clean and prepare the fungus. Cut out any brown or discoloured parts and only use good, nice fresh smelling flesh. 

- Break or cut into pieces and clean thoroughly. As this particular fungus grows under pine trees they tend to get full of little bits of pine needles and bugs. I find that leaving them in a bowl of salted water for an hour then rinsing through well with running water to ensure you have all the bits out works best. 

- Shake well in a colander and pat dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. 

- Then make up the batter by first whipping up the egg white to soft peak stage. In a separate bowl mix together all the other ingredients but pour the water in gradually, mixing all the time until you get it to the consistency of double cream. 

- Then gently spoon in the whipped egg white until fully mixed but without losing the light airiness of the mixture.

- You can make an easier batter just using fizzy water and cornflower – up to you. 

- Heat the oil in wok or deep fat fryer to 190 degrees centigrade. 

- Dip each slice of mushroom into the batter and carefully add to the hot oil. 

- Cook for about two minutes until crispy and golden brown. 

- Don’t try to do too many at once or the oil will cool down or they will all stick together, or both!

- As each batch is done, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and put to drain on some kitchen paper whilst you continue cooking in small batches until they are all done.

- Serve with your favourite salsa for a lovely interesting treat. 

Read more of Sheila’s regular blogs and recipes for Walk magazine

Magazine of the Ramblers

Jennie


Thank you for the recipe - it sounds delicious!

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