Wild mushrooms are a forager’s dream.

Wild mushrooms are a forager’s dream, especially when it comes to chanterelles or girolles. Their location is often a heavily guarded secret and I have to confess that I didn’t find the mushrooms for this week’s recipe myself– fortunately, I was kindly sent them by someone in the know in Scotland.

Scottish girolle mushrooms with thyme, spinach gnocchi and hazelnut crumbs (serves 4)

1 onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g girolle mushrooms
50ml white wine
200ml single cream
200ml chicken stock
350g spinach gnocchi (available in Waitrose)
75g hazelnuts
8 sprigs thyme
1tspn wholegrain mustard

Roughly chop the onion, then fry it in a splash of olive oil over a medium heat for about eight minutes, until soft. Next, carefully check over your mushrooms for soil, grit and forest friends (mine were covered in tiny leaves that ended up having to be washed off with water rather than rubbed or brushed away) and chop roughly, so that they’re still chunky, then add them to the onion, along with the crushed garlic, and continue to cook for a few minutes so the mushrooms are coated in the oil.

Add the white wine, turn the heat up to bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the wine has almost reduced entirely, before adding the chicken stock and continuing to simmer until the mushrooms are cooked. Just before serving, pour in the cream, stir well and heat through.

Cook the gnocchi by dropping them into a pan of simmering water—when they float to the top, they’re ready to be removed using a slotted spoon—and add them to your creamy mushroom mixture.

Finally, chop the hazelnuts with the thyme leaves and mix well, together with the seasoning and mustard, in a small bowl, then scatter the hazelnuts over the mushrooms and gnocchi and serve hot.

More ways with mushrooms

Scottish girolle mushroomsStuffed portobello mushrooms (left)
Take as many portobello mush- rooms as you have diners and, once clean, remove the stalks and brush them all over with olive oil. Fry the stalks, a few chopped spring onions and a handful of breadcrumbs with butter, then crush in cloves of garlic, add parsley and spoon the mixture onto the feathery side of the mushrooms, before topping with mozzarella and baking for 20 minutes. For a perfect starter, place a small mound of dressed salad leaves on the centre of each mushroom and serve immediately.

Warm autumn salad
Roast slices of butternut squash in the oven until tender, then allow to cool a little before adding clean spinach leaves to a large bowl along with chopped avocado, a scattering of pumpkin seeds, finely sliced red onions and the squash. Fry chopped mushrooms in garlic butter and add those to the salad, too. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve with focaccia.

Smart mushrooms on toast
Take a handful of mushrooms and a chopped rasher of bacon per person and fry them in butter until lightly browned. Add seasoning (go easy on the salt because of all that bacon), a few cloves crushed garlic and a handful parsley, then pour in enough single cream to just cover the mixture and heat through. Finally, pour the creamy mushrooms onto individual toasted slices of brioche (one per person) and serve immediately.