Mushrooms in vine leaves

Mushrooms in vine leaves
Mushrooms in vine leaves ready to go in the oven

This is a recipe from Elizabeth David. I have been dipping into her collection of articles ‘An Omelette and a Glass of Wine’ recently and when I read this particular recipe in an article on summer holidays I knew it was one I needed to try. We have a grape vine growing entwined with a hop on our garage wall. The grapes aren’t ready yet, they are still tiny balls of unyielding green but last year they tasted surprisingly sweet for an English grown grape.  I have no idea of the variety but they are really lovely eaten frozen with a square (or two) of chocolate, and last year I made grape jelly, which took a lot of boiling before it reached setting point. With this year’s heat I am hoping for good things from the grape harvest. In the meantime we have eaten more than our fair share worth of the leaves.  It is very simple to make and absolutely delicious. The vine leaves add a winey flavour to the juices that I, for some reason, was not expecting. When you think about it, of course, it makes absolute sense.  The photo before is uncooked, because to be honest when it is cooked it looks less attractive with brown wizened vine leaves, but do not let this put you off. You will soon become hooked.  You do need to use small tender vine leaves, as anything too big becomes too tough to eat.  If you don’t have a vine in the garden then you can use the vine leaves in brine that you can pick up from most large supermarkets or good food shops. Just give them a rinse before using.

About 20-25 small vine leaves
250g mushrooms
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled but kept whole
4-6 tbsps of good olive oil

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, plunge the vine leaves into the water and leave for only a couple of seconds and then drain and rinse in cold water. Give them a good squeeze to get rid of excess water.

You can use a lidded pyrex dish for this or any ovenproof dish and cover with foil to bake. Lay half the vine leaves on the bottom of the dish. Wipe the mushrooms clean and place on top of the vine leaves. Vine leaves and mushroomsScatter the whole, peeled garlic cloves over the top along with some salt and pepper. (Elizabeth David suggests that you don’t need to eat the garlic, but I can assure you that they are delicious, they have mellowed with cooking, becoming soft and sweet and are doused with the winey juices.) Pour over a couple of tablespoons of oil over the mushrooms. Cover with the rest of the vine leaves and pack down. Pour over a few more tablespoons of oil. Cover the dish with its lid or tightly with foil.

Place into a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for about 1 hour. The mushrooms will have shrunk, the leaves will have become brown and withered looking, but it will taste divine.

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Chorizo, lentil and bean stew

It’s mid October and the light for taking photos is lousy, but the weather (cold and blustery) demands comfort food of the highest order.  Mr OC had phoned at lunchtime asking if I had any recipes for lentils that he could make for his lunch the next day.  I took this as a hint that he wanted me to make something with lentils that he could take for his lunch. So we had some of this for tea with a pumpkin and potato mash and he took the rest in his flask today.

Serves 4

100g chorizo, diced chunkily
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sprig rosemary, chopped finely
4 sage leaves, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
a glug of Madeira or Marsala or sherry (optional)
400g tin of tomatoes
100g split red lentils
400g tin of beans (I used three bean salad but you could use cannellini, kidney or whatever you like or have)
600ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste at the end of cooking


Fry the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes until starting to go translucent.  Add the carrots and the garlic and continue to fry for a few more minutes until the carrot is beginning to become tender.  Add the chorizo and the herbs and fry until the oil begins to leach from the chorizo.  Pour in a good glug of Madeira wine (if using) and continue to cook until that has almost evaporated.  Pour in the tomatoes, the beans, lentils and the stock.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for at least 40 minutes (I left it in the simmering oven of the Aga for two hours).  Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread or pumpkin and potato mash like I did last night.  A meal fit for a king, or a man who likes his stew.


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Sausage and borlotti casserole

Autumn it seems has arrived.

With autumn comes the renewed need to eat warming stews and casseroles. Hooray for autumn.

When I was wandering around Ludlow Food Festival last week I spotted some very delicious looking venison, port and thyme sausages at the Legges of Bromyard stand. I couldn’t resist.  Then it occurred to me that in about an hour’s time I was going to eating quite a few sausages and they might not be the best thing to take home for my tea this particular evening.  So, as I walked out of the castle grounds and through the thronging crowds of the Castle Square I walked past an empty butchers shop ( I hope they had a very busy stall somewhere within the festival grounds).  I popped in for a hefty piece of rump for tea that particular night and saved my sausages for the next night. What a treat they were too.

We have some borlotti beans in the garden.  I had bought some Wenlock Edge Farm baked ham from the festival ready for the fidget pie I was going to be baking the next day and there is ALWAYS a bottle of red wine sitting by the Aga (it’s a very bad day if there isn’t). This was the result, served with a steaming pile of mash.  Hooray for autumn indeed.

Serves 2 hungry people

4 good quality sausages, venison if you can get them
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
½ dsp juniper berries (I used 1 dessertspoon but it was a little too overwhelming), lightly crushed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 scant tsp dried thyme
300g fresh tomato chopped, or you could use a 400g can
100g ham or bacon diced
2 bay leaves
250g borlotti beans, fresh or canned
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml red wine


If you are using fresh borlotti beans then boil them in plenty of water until tender (10-15 minutes), then drain.

Brown the sausages in a little oil in a pan and remove to a plate.  Add the onion to the fat in the pan and fry until translucent and just beginning to tinge golden. Add the ham or the bacon and fry for a minute or two. Return the sausages back to the pan and add the juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves and borlotti beans. Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute or two.  Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato puree.  Season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt with the bacon and sausages, but taste at the end and add then if you do need it).  Bring everything to a simmer and cook slowly for about 40 minutes. If you want a thicker sauce, mix 2 tsp cornflour with a little water in a cup and then pour into the casserole and stir in well.  Allow to simmer for another five minutes before serving. Serve with mashed potato or cabbage.

PS I can’t claim credit for the leaf shot, that is Mr OC doing the fancy things he does with that camera of his.


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