Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Recovery time.

Bestival is over and I am catching up on much needed sleep in a big bed with duvet and mattress, a far cry from achy backs in the morning, no-pillow-neck-crunch and grass in the sleeping bag.

This time of year is perfect for body and mind rehabilitation. Shuffling about with half open eyes suits the autumn light; each day lived through the lens of a Polaroid camera with warm orange light and slightly blurred edges. It all brings back a comforting nostalgia of bonfire smoke, apple crumble in the oven, feet by the fire and walks in a warm wind. This year's forecast has hit the
nail on the head for encouraging that oh-so-sickly word 'cosy' to stream back into our vocabulary.

Today has been one of those 'cosy' days. A warming Mumsoup, with hot bread and cheese for lunch, followed by a walk in the fields at a leisurely pace, stealing berries from bushes and no doubt, this evening lighting the fire whilst tucking into one of Monty Don's garden recipes. It has reached the season when it is considered perfectly OK to stock up on fuel for the winter; baggy clothes and big jumpers hiding the extra insulation you have worked so hard to build up in preparation for Arctic winds and sideways snow. Well almost...

Perhaps I am making up too much for the glut of my next recipe. But it is only right to be indulgent when you discover two ginormous Puff Balls beneath your feet, eager to be plucked from the grass and appreciated for all that they are. The Giant Puff Ball, otherwise known as Langermannia gigantea, is a rare and underestimated beauty which, unknown to many, can be delicious fried up in a saucepan with garlic and cream and parsley. With it's strange shape, white flesh, stiff skin and spongy texture, it looks less like a member of the mushroom family and more like a ball of freshly formed mozzarella.

Bizarre fruits of the earth, but these ring all bells. Serve on its own, with a fry up or throw chopped puff ball into risotto for a delicate version of risotto ai funghi.

In this instance, I am going to show them at their most simple.

Fried Puff Ball with bacon, garlic and cream.
400g puff ball, freshly picked, roughly chopped (This may seem like a large amount but it shrinks massively)
25g butter
2 rashers of smoked bacon. roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
40ml double cream

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and fry until brown. Throw in the chopped puff ball and keep stirring it so that it turns a golden brown colour. Add more butter if necessary, but the puff ball will become moist the more it is fried. Add the garlic and stir in.
This tastes fantastic just as it is without the cream, and I would recommend to keep it like this if serving it with a fry up. If the cream appeals to you, then let the mixture cool slightly before pouring it in. The cream will turn slightly brown because of the butter, but this adds to the earthiness of the recipe, I think.

Mouthwateringly good! Savour this, it may be the only one you find.
Now it is back up North for me. Back to baked beans and regular mushrooms.
Perhaps the Yorkshire Dales will surprise me with a treat or two to jazz up old leftovers?


  1. i found what i think are some of these in my garden, but the inside looks mucusy with transparent pods and something that looks like small seeds, and only a half dollar sized... did i find the same thing? any clue?

  2. Atom Farm - BE CAREFUL! They should be fine but it is always worth checking in a mushroom book - Roger Phillips is the man for the job. A lot of mushrooms have an evil twin... so soemtimes it's not worth the risk. I recently went mushroom picking in London, and we ended up using half, and discarding the rest, just because we had an ounce of doubt. I really hope, for your sake, it is an edible puff ball - they are SO good! If you can and do eat it, let me know what you do with it! x

  3. Nice step-by-step tutorial there. Mushroom kits are really the way to go for beginners to get started at growing their own mushrooms at home.

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