From its kitchen garden restaurant near Bristol The Ethicurean serves a menu based on seasonal, ethical, locally grown produce. Championing sustainable food, The Ethicurean has won multiple awards including (to name a few) Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand 2013, Observer Best Ethical Restaurant 2011 & Runner Up 2012 and Compassion In World Farming Good Egg Award 2012.
The Ethicurean has kindly agreed to share with us two recipes from its beautiful cookbook.
Wild Mushroom with Sourdough Toast & Thyme Stichelton Crème Fraiche
This is supper for an autumnal day. The sum of all of its parts and a collection of flavours that have been enjoyed together for centuries. Autumn means that it is time for mushrooms. A number of foragers drop in with boxes of them throughout the season and we also try to get out as much as we can – especially into the woods and hills framed in the windows of our glasshouse.
Please try to get hold of a sourdough loaf for the toast. We pick ours up from Mark’s Bread in Bedminster. They have their own levain, or starter, that they use to make their Bristol Sourdough. The lactic acid in sourdough, produced by the lactobacilli bacteria, gives this bread its unique taste, which works so well in this simple meal. Our businesses have grown in tandem and Mark Newman and his fellow bakers have similar values to ours. For one, they make all their deliveries on their ‘Breadmobile’, a heavy iron bicycle with a big box on the back.
The warm, woody aroma of thyme is both bitter and sweet. It was always destined to be paired with an assortment of wild mushrooms. Jekka McVicar, our queen of herbs, points out that thyme aids digestion and will help to break down fat in foods – another good reason to be liberal when pairing it with cheese. We chose Stichelton for this recipe. It has toast and caramel flavours with an underlying butteriness, while its blue veins provide piquancy. The blue softens the cheese, altering its texture and flavour, changing the colour from white to soft cream. The whole truckles are a thing of beauty, a combination of white crust through to a bright rust that is almost pink.
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
300g mixed wild mushrooms, such as slippery jack, penny bun, russula, horse mushroom, sheep’s foot and puffballs, cleaned and sliced into 1cm strips
leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
25g unsalted butter
8 very thin slices of sourdough bread
fine sea salt
flaky sea salt
For the thyme Stichelton crème fraîche:
25g Stichelton cheese, roughly chopped
75ml crème fraîche
leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme
For the thyme Stichelton crème fraîche, put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse to a semi-coarse consistency. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
Place a large frying pan over a high heat and leave until it is very hot. Add the rapeseed oil; it should begin to smoke. Immediately add the mushrooms and thyme leaves, plus a dusting of fine salt, and toss to coat them evenly with the oil. Leave undisturbed for a minute or so, until the mushrooms colour ever so slightly, then toss and colour on the other side. Remove from the heat and add the butter to the pan. Toss until it has melted and the mushrooms are evenly coated, then check the seasoning.
While the mushrooms are cooking, put the sourdough bread under a hot grill and toast, turning every minute, until both sides are golden brown. Thin slices of bread will curl under the grill, and the regular turning prevents this happening.
Remove the sourdough from the grill and add a couple of slices to each plate. Cover with the mushrooms, season with flaky sea salt and add a heaped tablespoon of the Stichelton crème fraîche.
Salt-baked Celeriac, Portobello Mushroom and Apple Soup
Celeriac’s close relationship to celery is the reason it is possible to detect hints of celery in what would otherwise be a nutty, earthy taste, common to root vegetables. This knobbly vegetable is not very common outside Europe. We like to regard it as a hidden gem. Its delicate aniseed notes, coupled with a touch of parsley, are intriguing and never disappointing.
In this recipe, we pair it with Portobello mushrooms to enhance the earthiness inherent in the celeriac. Apple and celery are a classic combination and, being surrounded by over 70 different varieties of apples at the Walled Garden, we could not resist this addition. We find that the apple complements the soft citrus hints present in this ugly duckling of the root vegetable world remarkably well.
100g coarse sea salt
500g onions, sliced
125g carrots, sliced
250g Portobello mushrooms, sliced
500ml chicken stock (see page 00)
125g Blenheim Orange (or Bramley) apple
flaky sea salt
Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Peel the celeriac and cut it into 4–6cm chunks. It can be determined to hold its form, so go easy with your hands around the knife. Scatter the coarse salt over a baking tray and place the celeriac chunks on top. Cover the tray with aluminium foil, sealing it well around the edges. Bake for 30–45 minutes, until the celeriac begins to soften. The salt will extract some of the moisture and the flavour will intensify.
In a large saucepan, sweat the onions in a little rapeseed oil and butter until softened. Remove the celeriac from the salt, brushing away any that has stuck to it (the salt can be used again for baking vegetables in the same manner). Add the celeriac, carrots, mushrooms, chicken stock and 500ml water to the onions and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are just soft to the point of a knife.
Peel and grate the apple. Ladle the soup into a blender, filling it only half full, and blitz until smooth. Pass the blended soup through a sieve into a clean pan, returning anything too coarse to the remaining unblended soup. Blend the remaining soup, adding the grated apple, then strain it into the pan and reheat gently. The apple will remain a fresh flavour if you add it at this point. Season with salt and cracked white pepper, then serve.
Read more about The Ethicurean here