The weather is too bad for me to photograph anything on my kitchen table, so I took this picture in the park yesterday. The rain is down today in relentless, blowing sheets. It's time for wellies again. I am one of those people who wears wellies with flowers on them, I was delighted when they started appearing in the shops a couple of years ago. I got mine last year in Pennys for €15 and they are funky and do the job.
I visited the new baby of the Avoca empire on the Naas Road yesterday. They have the coolest wellies ever, but at €89.00 they can stay on their frilly-laden shelves. Although the shop looks like it fell out of the sky and onto the motor-way, it is perfectly placed so the diner gets a breathtaking view of the Dublin Mountains while enjoying their tartlet. As much as I would love to hate the Avoca chain I just can't. Director Simon Pratt's devotion to fresh produce and everything being made on site has resulted in consistent quality without the usual restaurant chain blandness. A salad plate here is a great lunch and you can pat yourself on the back afterwards for having consumed more than the elusive five-a-day. With my salad
(make sure you get some broccoli and feta salad in it) I had the terrine of smoked chicken and peaches. A lot of work goes into a good terrine and this one was chunky and fruity with all the smoky flavours coming through. We sat in the Autumn sun congratulating ourselves on our healthy choices. When I went to get our coffees the cake selection stopped me in my tracks. Huge slices of chocolate roulade collapsed on their plates, berry cheesecakes looked rich and inviting. I asked the guy at the till which was the best and he recommended the pavlova, a huge igloo of fruit filled goo. I took it and rushed back to my friend with the treasure and two spoons. She beamed and we tucked in amid oohs and aahs of delight. I had to be rolled out afterwards.
For dinner later there was no way I was making anything big. I still had those "trumpets of death mushrooms" to use up from the weekend as well as a bag of portobellos. Mushroom stroganoff was now on the menu. This is such an easy meal to make for supper or just have it on nice chunky toast for a light meal. It's the perfect time of year for smelly funghi so make the most of them. Most mushrooms are now grown in sterile conditions so you really only need to brush the dirt off them. Water will ruin oyster and chanterelles so don't do it. Chestnut and shitake take longer to cook so throw them in the pan first, cooking for a few minutes, then add the more delicate ones at the end. Alternatively use just sliced portobellos.
2 tblsp olive oil
400g Mushrooms, your choice - sliced or left whole for little ones
1 shallot finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
300-ml fresh cream
Hand-full fresh, chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper
1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the shallot and garlic, cook for a few mins until soft. Add the more robust mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, followed by the more delicate ones, cook for two more minutes.
2. Add the sherry and cook off for a minute, pour in the cream and bring to a bubble
3. Season with the salt and pepper and throw in the parsley. Serve immediately on rice or toast.