By Kate Humble
If you are dreading the long, dark days of winter, I’ve got this little bit of advice for you: don’t fight nature! Embrace the season, keep your feet warm and eat well. Spring will be here soon!
There are certain things that I will always associate with my grandmother, Paddy. Rich Tea biscuits, which she would have with her morning tea before she got up. House coats. Chocolate buttons. Gin and Tonic. And, curiously, mushrooms on toast. I say curiously, because I can’t actually remember her ever making them for me, but for reasons long forgotten, she and that glorious smell of mushrooms frying in butter are synonymous. I would love to say that I spend every Autumn morning out in the fields foraging the mushrooms I then cook up for breakfast, but it would be a lie. My knowledge of mushrooms is woeful and my fear of picking, cooking and eating something that looks innocuous but is actually deadly is – reassuringly for everyone I hold dear – enough to stop me trying. Every year I promise myself I will join my brilliant mushroom expert friend Simon on a forage, and then time does its thing, and the season is over once again. So, you can use any mushrooms you like here, foraged from your local woods and fields or from the shelves of your local supermarket.
Mushrooms on Toast
A knob of butter
1 clove of garlic
150g mixed mushrooms (this looks like a lot of mushrooms, but they shrink a lot when cooking, plus they are so delicious you don’t want to scrimp)
A good sprinkling of chopped parsley
Crème Fraiche (optional)
Salt & Pepper
Toast to serve – Your lovely, buttery mushrooms deserve a thickish slice of toast to languish on, I think. I’d go wholemeal, but you can choose whatever you like, as long as it is not white and flabby.
Melt the butter with a glug of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Crush or grate the garlic into the pan and let it soften but not brown.
Cut up any of the mushrooms that are really big, but leave them quite chunky. Add them to the pan. Stir them gently every now and then so they cook evenly. They’ll start to release some of that lovely, fragrant juice which mixes so deliciously with the butter. When the mushrooms are starting to soften, (after 3-4 minutes) put your toast on.
Sprinkle most of the parsley over the mushrooms (leaving some for the end), a good pinch of flaked sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. If you want to add crème fraiche (I don’t, but some do) do it now.
Turn down the heat and let the mushrooms bubble quietly until your toast is ready. It is up to you and your conscious whether you want more butter on your toast, but whatever you chose, pile on the mushrooms and all their garlicky, buttery juices, sprinkle with more parsley and tuck in.