Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Definitely not for dinner

I went on a fungal foray to Ards forest on Sunday (yes, this IS my food blog, the wildlife one goes into much more detail about the foray and the findings) and found a good helping of Hedgehog Mushrooms for dinner. Hedgehogs are one of the few fungi that are both safe to eat and easy to identify, so I feel safe in recommending them.

Here's a shot of the underside, showing the spines which give it its common name:

Underside of Hedgehog Mushroom, showing spines

There are two varieties, one with white spines and another with orange spines. Both are safe (and good!) to eat.

Just round the corner, however, I spotted this specimen of the Death Cap, which I'm showing here in order to make sure you DON'T eat it by mistake:

The deadly Amanita phalloides, or Death Cap

The Death Cap (the name's a good clue) is the most deadly of fungi, causing death by liver and kidney failure within 72 hours. There is no known antidote.

Here's an excellent general-purpose reference for fungi:

I have been using this book for perhaps 10 years now (it was recently updated), and I thoroughly recommend it.

Moving on, here's a brilliant chicken dish I made over the weekend:


For the marinade

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
For the chicken stew
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 400g/14oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 x 400g/14oz tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml/9fl oz chicken stock
  • 1 lime, juice only


  1. For the marinade, place all the marinade ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. 
  2. Slash the chicken thighs several times then place into a bowl with half of the marinade and mix until well combined. Marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole until hot, add the chicken thighs and fry for 3 - 4 minutes, turning regularly, or until browned all over. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set aside.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions to the pan and fry for 3 - 4 minutes, until just softened.
  6. Add the remainder of the marinade and the tinned tomatoes. Stir for one minute, then add the squash and stir until coated in the sauce. Add stock and bring to the boil. Allow it to bubble for a minute or two.
  7. Return the chicken to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Cover the pan.
  8. Place in the oven and cook for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender and the sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

The sweetness of the squash contrasts wonderfully with the lime and the spices in the marinade.

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