A Cep Platter maybe, but this was the wholesome, honest and good kind…….no connection to the other bloke…!
Walking around the market this week we came across the mushroom man and being the correct time of year he was purveying an array of ceps. We had already sorted dinner that night but found ourselves diverted by the fragrant ceps along with some gorgeous golden Girolle purchased from a little old lady who collects them herself and then sells them on in the market place.
I love the markets at this time of year, the diversity of produce is always good but I think the tomatoes, the aubergines the beautiful peaches and apricots, the Mara de Bois sweet, sweet strawberries and then there is the hustle and bustle – such a great way to while away a morning.
Years ago, I was in a different market with various members of my family. My cousin Cheesecake was saying that she had difficulty in getting caraway seeds at home but that she couldn’t work out if the spice man stall had any. I went to help and I think a few other family members joined in too, the upshot being that Cheesecake ended up with half a ton of caraway seeds and not the small scoop she had been hoping for.
Back to the tale.
The french love to forage for mushrooms and in many cases they guard their own hunting grounds, the best places to find ceps are often shrouded in secrecy.
When we first came out here 11 years ago, we were warned to be careful not to consume any poisonous varieties by mistake, and we were advised to take our pickings to the chemist who would verify them for us – all the chemists have been trained in art of mushrooms to prevent some of the unnecessary deaths that had occurred…
Back to the tale.
After mooching around for a bit longer we returned home knowing that the fresh tagliatelle we had in the fridge would be put to good use. The Cep omelette was debated but ruled out as we once made ourselves some fresh tagliatelle with ceps on trip in Languedoc before even we had the home in Gascony and it has very warm and happy memories. We didn’t make the pasta this time, just used some good fresh egg pasta from the supermarket.
We consulted Larousse Gastronomic and an array of other guru’s because we couldn’t remember if it’s best to remove the spongey bit beneath the cap on the bigger ones. Here is our version of tagliatelle with ceps in a cream and white wine sauce. Finally after consulting with Cheffy Chefferson from Rocket’s work we decided we would remove them.
Here is what we did..
We took a couple of large handfuls of Ceps and Girolles and we cleaned them carefully with a brush, removing all the grit. We sliced the ceps and tore the girlies, then fried them in clarified butter until lightly golden. (At this stage, if you have more mushrooms than you want to use for the dish, you can put them into bag or jar and keep them preserved in the butter for future use – or even freeze them in the butter).
We sautéed 3 finely sliced shallots and a clove of thinly sliced garlic in butter to which we added a glass of white wine and reduced this down on a high heat until it was virtually gone.
Meanwhile, put the tagliatelle in to a large pan of lightly salted boiling water for a few minutes.
Next we added a large measure of Armagnac (well, it is from Gascony so why not??) allow this to flame, once the flames have died away add 125ml of double cream, add the sautéed mushrooms and season with a little salt and pepper.
Drain the Pasta and add it into the sauce, using a little of the pasta water to loosen the mixture then garnish with a little finely chopped broadleaf parsley, before placing into your serving dishes.
Fresh, seasonal, naughty and local – a little touch of France!