Beer goggles, rose-tinted glasses, Google glass… there are many different things that filter our view of the world, whether it be new technology or age-old figurative filters. My mum (the ‘forage expert’ in question here) has forage goggles. I’ve dropped my keys out on a dog walk before, and she can go out & spot them in no time. She once found 16 four-leaf clovers in the same week.
On this particular foragespedition (ok, that really doesn’t work) however, it was less a case of something difficult to spot and more a case of serious foragesperience (hmm, no, that’s doesn’t work either). As you can see below, the mushroom is quite unmistakeable – it’s large & very football-like, and edible!
Now usually I’d be too wary to go mushroom-picking. It’s a risky business, and with my mum’s farm-upbringing knowledge I’d only stick to the obvious ones such as field mushrooms. However this is not my first encounter with a puffball… years ago during a family holiday in Norfolk we were actually given one by a farmer, who told us it was edible too!
I’m not going to give you exact recipes for things, as it can basically be used as a nutty-tasting mushroom. However, what I found interesting about the puffball is that it had no particularly strong flavour of its own, and could actually be used a little like tofu. You peel away the skin (man, that’s satisfying, I could do that all day!) and then chop into cubes, and it sucks up whatever flavours you cook with it.
We managed to feed the family for about four days in a row on this puffball. Well, it was so beautiful we didn’t want to waste it! We made puffball risotto, which was my favourite way to eat it, and this interesting puffball loaf with layers of onions, lentils, vegetables and cheese sauce. Amazing how a little can go a long way! And now for my favourite part of the day… (and Truffle’s least favourite, too boring!).
Ahh, all in a day’s forage.