Mushrooms on toast

Svamptoast

Wild mushrooms on toast

The forests in Sweden seem to be full of wild mushrooms in the autumn. The contrast with Britain, where you may occasionaly stumble on some wild mushrooms, is so great it is hard to comprehend. If you are even in Sweden in the early autumn a visit to view the enormous array of wild mushrooms is recommended.

But, of course, not all wild mushrooms are edible so you need to know your mushrooms if you intend to pick any. Many Swedes do and they even seem to believe they have their own very private place in the forest, where they can pick the very best edible wild mushrooms. So precious is such knowledge that they will get up to all kinds of tricks if they think anyone else might find their secret location including, if they hear someone coming, hiding their picked mushrooms and just pretending that they are just out for a leisurely walk!

Chanterelle mushrooms on sale in a market in Sweden

They can't all be picking their own wild mushrooms because there are also plenty being sold on markets in Sweden and I'm sure they are not all for tourists!

Londoners can pop along to Fitz's stall at Borough Market. He has some really good quality mushrooms for sale, sometimes from Sweden. The mushrooms above are Swedish mushrooms from Fitz's stall and are an excellent combination for mushrooms on toast. From left to right the mushrooms are: chanterelles (sometimes called girolles), orange birch boletes and cortinarius caperatus (sometimes called Rozites caperata or gypsy mushrooms).

Mushrooms on toast is one of my favourite ways of enjoying wild mushrooms. There are so many variations: plain, with herbs, topped with some roe, creamy, or with goat's cheese.  So simple yet irresistible. Do try it if you get the chance. John Duxbury

Summary

Tips

• You can use virtually any wild mushrooms for this dish.  Chanterelle (girolles) or porcini (called Karljohnssvamp in Sweden) are the most popular in Sweden.
• If the mushrooms are really good, keep it as simple as possible and avoid using cream, goat's cheese or roe. You might even omit the red onion.
• You can used dried mushrooms instead of fresh, in which case soak them in water at room temperature for 30 minutes first and then let them drain thoroughly before using as fresh.  25 g (1 oz) of dried mushrooms will give you the equivalent of about 200 g (7 oz) of fresh mushrooms.

Mushroom on toast, garnished with roe

• To make the dish very Swedish, garnish with some roe such as Kalix löjrom ("Caviar of Kalix"). Swedes would probably use a tablespoon of roe per person, but I've suggested just a teaspoon as Brits are not generally as keen on roe as Swedes. Besides, its expensive!
• If you prefer, toast the bread rather frying.

Ingredients

4 slices   good quality toasting bread, preferably white sourdough
50 g (2 oz) butter
1 tbsp   olive oil
350 g (12 oz) wild mushrooms
½   onion, finely sliced (preferably red)
25 g (1 oz) parsley, finely chopped
    salt and freshly ground black pepper
120 ml (½ cup) cream, single or whipping (optional)
1   small lemon, juice only
4 tsp   Kalix löjrom or other roe (optional)

Method

Cleaning mushrooms with a brush

1. Brush the mushrooms clean (try and avoid washing them if possible), roughly chop them and set aside.

2. Heat a frying pan and add half the butter. Trim the crusts off the bread.

3. When the pan is hot, fry the bread on both sides until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm. (Alternatively, toast the bread.)

Mushrooms being fried with red onion

4. Add the rest of the oil and then the butter to the pan. When the butter has all melted add the onion, salt and pepper and fry for a couple of minutes until they are beginning to soften slightly.

5. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5 to 8 minutes until nicely coloured, stirring from time to time. (If the mushrooms produce a lot of water continue heating until all the water evaporates.)

6. Add the chopped parsley, then pour in the cream, if using. Continue to stir and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

7. Divide the mixture between the four slices of toast and top with some Kalix löjrom or other roe (optional), freshly ground black pepper and parsley.

Mushrooms on toast with goat’s cheese

Goats cheese goes really well with mushrooms. Instead of frying bread, put it under a hot grill to toast. When both sides are golden brown remove the crusts and top with spreadable goats cheese or thinly sliced goats cheese. Place back under the grill until it starts to brown very slightly and to bubble. Cook the mushrooms as above but omit the cream and lemon juice and add some finely chopped herbs. Top the toasted cheese with the cooked mushrooms and serve.

Mushrooms on toast with herbs

Cook the mushrooms as above, but add some chopped herbs with the onion in step 4 (marjoram, oregano or parsley all work well). Omit the cream in step 6, but add a tablespoon of sherry instead and another sprinkling of herbs. Garnish with fresh herbs.

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