A couple of years ago, I went to San Francisco to check out the cutting edge of modern cooking in one of the most idyllic vegetable-producing areas of the world. We had a sublime meal of simple perfection at Chez Panisse, one other nice dinner and an awful lot of overpriced fusion codology. Easily the most inspiring people were the growers; the cooks were too busy growing ponytails. On the last day, while prowling in
Cook the onion, garlic and fennel seeds in a little oil for a few minutes, then add the grated parsnip and continue cooking for a few minutes more, but don’t allow the parsnip to cook more than a little. Whisk the eggs, milk and yoghurt together, then whisk these into the flour with the nutmeg, dill and mustard, to get a thick batter. Now stir in the cooked vegetables and the wild rice. Season well with salt and pepper, and toss in some chopped parsley, fresh dill or fennel, if you feel inclined. Add the baking powder just before you start to fry the fritters.
In a wide frying pan, heat some oil to a low, steady temperature, then drop in tablespoons of the batter - as many as the pan will take, they won’t spread. You will need three for each person. Cook them for a few minutes, then flip each one over to cook the other side. You may need to flip them a couple of times, until they are lightly browned and firm to touch, then keep them warm in the oven while you cook another batch. It’s best to keep them frying gently without either browning them too quickly or letting the temperature drop to below a cooking level; they should take about eight minutes to cook through. Cook the mushrooms at the same time.
TAKE THE THYME LEAVES OFF THE STALKS. Slice the mushrooms according to how you like them and cook them briefly in butter over a high heat. Just as they begin to leak liquid, pour in the cider and the thyme, and continue cooking at a high temperature for a minute before adding the cream, then carry on until the liquids have reduced to a slightly thick pouring consistency. Take off the heat and season well with salt and black pepper.
Share out the mushrooms and their sauce between the plates and arrange three fritters on top of each. To make a winter feast of it, serve some smoked cheese mash and some simply cooked greenery - curly kale would be perfect.
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