Friday, March 23, 2012

Twilight Hawker Markets, Forrest Place, Eat Drink Perth 2012

The Twilight Hawker Markets started in 2011, as a part of the Eat Drink Perth festival, running for the month of March. Now it looks like it will become a permanent fixture of Perth’s summery months, it started up again on 28 October 2011 and runs until 30 March 2012, every Friday 5-8pm in Forrest Chase.

The second offering of the Twilight Markets is bigger and better with a more open set up, more seating and more stalls on offer. It’s great to see the number and variety of food stalls expanding with new food vendors setting up shop, as it not only shows that the people of Perth are willing to try new things but that people are also willing to task risks by investing in bringing food to the people. It's great to see the food scene in Perth growing from strength to strength. 

(The Twilight Hawker Markets are a family affair, here's a family enjoying Spiral Spuds)

There are always huge crowds at the Twilight Hawker Markets and the queues can be long, even well into the night. As I stand in line waiting to order, it’s interesting to people watch and overhear the conversations around me. Many people walk around and have a peek of each of the stalls trying to make a decision on what to eat, and some eye the plates of others sitting down enjoying a meal and point at a stranger’s plate and ask “where did you get that from?” In a restaurant setting you wouldn’t normally prod people about what they are eating but outdoors here at the Twilight Hawker Markets, you see people happily conversing with each other, and also sharing the communal dining space. I love the sense of curiosity and the enthusiasm that comes through as people share details of their hawker food finds with others.

I have been going to the Twilight Hawkers Markets nearly every Friday after work, it’s great to not have to think about cooking at the end of the working week. At the Murray Street Mall entry you are greeted by a smokey haze and enticing charred meat smells created by the Malaysian Satay stall and the El Asador Argentinean BBQ stall. There are always never-ending lines for these stalls, grilled meats are a definite crowd pleaser. 

(Malaysian Satay Stall)
(El Asador Stall)

I’ve ordered the beef ribs from El Asador which comes with a chimichurri herb sauce. I’m given big chunks of beef ribs on a plate that have some nice bits of fat, barbecued until almost black but not burnt so that it has a wonderful charred taste. Although the beef is a bit chewy, I find it delicious. 

I was quite excited to see the Japanese Savoury Pastries stall selling takoyaki, it brought back memories of Japan. Takoyaki are fried octopus balls with a bit of octopus cooked inside a pancake-like batter. Famous in Osaka, takoyaki is not something that you would generally find on restaurant menus, it’s a street snack and can be purchased at many street vendors across the Osaka and Kansai area. I lined up for some takoyaki one night and as I got closer and read the menu, I saw that they had westernised the takoyaki with a western style pastry batter, cheese and vegetables. You can top the takoyaki the traditional way with Japanese BBQ sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and dried bonito fish flakes, but there are also additional sauce options such as sweet chilli sauce and mustard. Even though I wasn’t getting the real deal, I was still curious to try and see what this westernised version of takoyaki would taste like.

(Japanese Savoury Pastries Stall making takoyaki)

 (Takoyaki from Japanese Savoury Pastries Stall)

The takoyaki looked good but when I popped the balls into my mouth I was a little disappointed. The best way to describe the takoyaki is to say that it felt like I had popped a pizza in my mouth – the dough was like thick crust pizza and it was quite cheesy. Although the Japanese Savoury Pastries version of takoyaki doesn’t quite appeal to me, it seems to be popular with the crowds at the Twilight Hawker Markets.

So from a Japanese street food experience that didn’t meet my expectations, a week later, I would find one that went over my expectations in Fumi’s Japanese Pancake and Noodle stall.

(Fumi’s Japanese Pancake and Noodle Stall)

The lines for Fumi’s Japanese Pancake and Noodle stall are always long, the sign at the front says that the Japanese pancakes are a recipe from Fumi’s great grandmother and dressed with a homemade sweet soy sauce. I approached cautiously as I had my doubts on whether the stall could pull off Japanese street food, but I’m glad that I decided to try the combo of Japanese pancake and noodles because it was very enjoyable to eat. I really liked the taste and texture of the pancake batter, and the noodles were well flavoured.

(combo of Japanese pancake and noodles)
(Inside of the Japanese pancake)

I’ve also enjoyed the food from the Moroccan stall. I think that it’s a stall that gets overlooked and I wouldn’t have tried it myself until I went to the Twilight Hawker Markets with my cousin one night and we both went our separate ways to line up for food and then regroup. My cousin bought a tajin dish which I tried and found to be a really hearty meal, I liked the flavours coming through the dish so much that I when I was at the Twilight Hawker Markets the following week I ordered it again.

 (Moroccan Stall)

(Chicken Tajin)

While I like trying new things from different stalls, I have a habit of always ordering something from Marcelita's Empanadas and Red Hot Spatula when I am at the Twilight Hawker Markets.

  (Red Hot Spatula’s pork sliders)

I find Red Hot Spatula’s pork sliders, comfort food – fluffy steamed buns filled with pulled pork cooked in a sweet soy sauce with hints of spices like star anise and cinnamon, I love eating it. I also like ordering the Vietnamese inspired chicken salad as it is refreshing to eat on a hot summers day, there is a good balance of vermicelli to vegetables and chicken, and the dressing has a good hit of fish sauce and chilli.

Marcelita’s Empanadas (run by Perth blogger Abstract Gourmet and his wife Marcela) are always satisfying to bite into as the corn maize used for the dough makes it light and crisp, and the fillings burst with flavour. There is a choice of shredded beef brisket, pulled pork and lime, and potato empanadas made fresh to order. You can watch the Empanadista's busy flattening, stuffing, shaping and then frying each empanada right in front of you. I have tried empanadas at other places around Perth and I can honestly say that Marcelita’s are the best.

 (Empanadista's hard at work)
(Guarapo and empanadas - I always go for one of each - pork, beek and potato)
(my favourite empanada is the pork and lime one)

Amongst all the deep fried, grilled, barbecued, hot foods, you will find Maison Saint-Honore, a macaron stall selling some of the best macarons I have eaten in Perth in a wide variety of classic and interesting flavours.

If you are really lucky, you may find the Delish Ice van at the Twilight Hawker Markets. Gourmet popsicles made by Katie who travels up to Perth from time to time all the way from Margaret River. I always get excited like a little kid when I see her caravan and I love the fact that unlike the sugar laden artificially flavoured popsicles that I had as a kid, these popsicles are made with fresh fruits and vegetables which you can really taste and most have little or no sugar. There are always so many interesting flavour combinations on offer like coconut, pineapple and lime; watermelon and mint; apple and peach; chocolate and marshmallow.

The Twilight Hawker Markets run for another 2 weeks so make sure you get down and check it out. There are also heaps of other food stalls on offer and I aim to try some new dishes. What stalls have people tried and would recommend that I check out?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chocolate Éclair Cake – March Sweet Adventures Blog Hop: Layers

The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop this month is hosted by fellow Perth blogger The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader and the theme is layered desserts. 

My contribution is a chocolate éclair cake (its got 12 layers!)

I came across a recipe for chocolate eclair cake a while ago, it’s basically a type of ice box (aka refrigerator) cake made up of vanilla pudding which is lightened with whipped cream, layered between graham crackers and topped with a chocolate glaze. After refrigeration, this cake promises to taste just like a chocolate éclair as the graham crackers have absorbed moisture from the cream and softened, resembling the choux pastry found in an eclair. I love eating chocolate eclairs and the thought of a short cut way of making it where I wouldn’t have to mess around with choux pastry was an exciting prospect, but would it deliver what it promised? I wanted to find out.

Ice box cakes are an old school dessert that have been around since the 1930s, it was one of those back-of-the-box recipes by companies trying to promote their products to housewives by showing them how to make convenient party fare. The defining recipe comes from an American brand of cookie, Nabisco Chocolate Wafers which suggested stacking the wafers to form a log with whipped cream cementing them together and refrigerating overnight for a glorious looking chocolate cake that is deceptively simple to make. In Australia we have our own version made with Arnotts Chocolate Ripple biscuits.

The chocolate éclair cake is a bit of a spin-off containing graham crackers and a bunch of instant products - vanilla pudding, whipping cream and chocolate frosting. Graham crackers are an ingredient that I often come across in American dessert recipes where some sort of biscuit base is required. However, graham crackers are not readily available in Australia and I usually use digestive biscuits as a substitute but I don’t know if they would work the same way for this dessert. Luckily I came across some graham crackers at an Asian supermarket (Dragon Supermarket on William Street). You are also able to order graham crackers online at USA Foods

I’ve never used any box mix/instant product for baking before and I don’t intend to…ever. Even with box mixes, you are still required to add in other ingredients (some liquid, eggs), so I would rather make the whole thing from scratch so I know exactly what will be in it and I can use the best ingredients. For the chocolate éclair cake I made my own vanilla pudding, whipped my own cream and made a chocolate glaze.

(Supporting local and organic producers – using organic Margaret River milk 
and Bannister Downs cream)

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first but was pleasantly surprised with the end result, it really did taste like a chocolate éclair. Although there is a difference in that you don’t get that crisp choux pastry encompassing the cream as the graham crackers have softened to a point that they literally melt in your mouth. But it’s delicious and that’s what counts. Picking apart the soft graham crackers, it has a flakey texture like choux pastry and provides a nice light layer in between the creamy vanilla pudding.

This chocolate eclair cake is really easy to put together if you follow the original recipe with all the instant products, but I made it a little harder by making the other components from scratch. I think it’s worth spending that extra time and effort as the result is superior.

Give this chocolate éclair ice box cake a go and put it into the category of cakes that you won’t be able to stop eating. It was my first go at an ice box cake and it definitely won’t be my last. Ice box cakes are a no bake dessert that can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be and the possibilities are endless – you could try using different types of biscuits, experiment with have different types of cream fillings and layer it with other things as well such as fruit or nuts. It can also be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.

Chocolate Éclair Cake
(recipe adapted from

•    Graham crackers (the amount of crackers depends on how many layers you want, I used around ~400g)
•    Chocolate glaze (150g dark chocolate plus 2 tablespoons of butter)
•    600ml cream (for whipping)

Vanilla pudding (adapted from Joy of Baking)
•    3 1/2 cups full cream milk
•    1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup caster sugar
•    1/4 cup corn flour
•    1/8 teaspoon salt
•    2 large eggs
•    1 large egg yolk
•    2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
•    2 tablespoons unsalted butter

(Note: as a shortcut you can use instant vanilla pudding, can of whipped cream and premade chocolate frosting)


To make vanilla pudding.

In a large heatproof bowl whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, cornflour, salt, eggs, and egg yolk. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk. Set aside. Rinse a medium-sized heavy saucepan with cold water and then shake out the excess water (this helps to prevents the milk from scorching). Add into the saucepan the remaining 3 cups of milk, along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and gradually pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture to a clean, large heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. If necessary, pour through the strainer to remove any lumps that may have formed during cooking. Transfer pudding to a large bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2-3 hours.

(Vanilla Pudding)

Pour the cream into a large bowl and beat it until it forms whipped cream.

Using a spatula, gently fold in half of the whipped cream into the cooled pudding, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until combined.

Line a 8 inch x 8 inch baking pan with foil. Cover the bottom of the pan with enough graham crackers, breaking as needed to fit in the pan. Spread over the top of the crackers some of the pudding/cream mixture, smoothing the top with a spatula (the layers of cream can be as thin or thick as you want). Repeat with the remaining pudding/cream and crackers, the last layer should be crackers. Refrigerate until ready to glaze.

You can have as many layers of cream and crackers as you want – the recipe that I got this idea for chocolate éclair cake from had three layers of graham crackers and two thick layers of cream. I decided to do as many layers as I could – 6 layers of graham crackers and 5 layers of cream.

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Cool the chocolate until barely warm/room temperature but still liquid and then spread evenly over the top cracker layer. Refrigerate the cake for 6-24 hours.

Related post - My entry for January's Sweet Adventures Blog Hop: Death by Chocolate - Oreo Cookies

Friday, March 9, 2012

Vietnamese Tacos – Homemade corn tortillas with Lemongrass Prawns, and Turmeric Dill Fish (Cha Ca)

In Lucky Peach #2, there was an article by Harold McGee on dry-aging and he examines our perception of food through our experience with it via our taste and smell receptors. He uses the example of coriander which has a love-hate divide and looks at it from a cultural experience. If you have grown up with it, like I have, then you will generally finding it a pleasing herb but if you are not accustomed to its taste, you may find it strange and repulsive. Harold identifies Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine as being common users of coriander, so if you grew up with Vietnamese food where coriander is frequently used as a garnish, than you’re likely to be receptive of Mexican food and its regular use of coriander like in guacamole and salsas.

My conclusion – If you like Vietnamese food, you will enjoy Mexican food too due to a shared love for coriander.

Lucky Peach #2 also featured a recipe for Korean Ssam burritos, an idea that David Chang conceived in 2005 but never really took off for his restaurant. However, since 2009 Korean style tacos have taken the LA food truck scene by storm by Roy Choi and his Kogi Korean BBQ trucks.

My conclusion – If you can make Korean style burritos then you can make Vietnamese style ones too (note the conclusion above that Vietnamese and Mexican food is meant to be together). Vietnamese like wrapping stuff up and filling things too like rice paper rolls, banh cuon and banh xeo.

After reading Lucky Peach #2, I was inspired to come up with my own style of tacos – a fusion of Vietnamese and Mexican cuisine. I present to you Vietnamese style tacos.

 Taco Ingredients

Vietnamese Lemongrass Prawn Taco
Vietnamese Turmeric and Dill Fish (Cha Ca) Taco

I decided to make some “tacos de camarones” (prawn tacos) and “taco de pescado” (fish tacos). For the prawn tacos, I cooked some Vietnamese lemongrass prawns and accompanied it with salsa, topped with some coriander. For the fish tacos, I cooked Cha Ca which is a famous Hanoi dish comprising of turmeric and dill marinated fish which is grilled or fried, and generally served with more dill, other herbs, crushed peanuts on top of rice noodles. It’s one of my favourite Vietnamese fish dishes, so fragrant, simple to make and really tasty. If you ever travel to Hanoi, Cha Ca is one of those must try dishes like pho.

You can use store bought tortillas or make your own. I tried to make tortillas from scratch for the first time. When I was looking up how to make tortillas, I settled with corn tortillas as they were the easiest to make. All you have to do is mix together masa corn flour with warm water. The corn tortillas turned out great but I think that next time I will try to make flour tortillas as I think they will provide a better base for the fillings (note:  flour tortillas were used for the Korean Ssam burittos recipe featured in Lucky Peach #2). I was going to buy a tortilla press but was given a tip by Matt of Abstract Gourmet that the same effect can be achieved with a chopping board, using it as a weight to press onto the dough, which is how Marcelita’s empanadas are made.

I put everything together with a squeeze of lime over the top and was really happy with my efforts. I had no doubt while I was frying up the lemongrass prawns and turmeric dill fish that they would be great fillings because they are delicious on their own, and the flavours worked out well wrapped up in a hot corn tortilla.

I will keep working on my idea of Vietnamese tacos – learn to make flour tortillas and keep experimenting with different fillings…and maybe one day, when the bureaucracy permits, I will have my own food truck which I will call "Apocalypse Now" (in reference to the film) and serve my Vietnamese tacos to the masses!

All recipes below.

Corn Tortillas

(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)


•    2 cups masa flour
•    pinch of salt
•    1 ¼ cup warm water


Place the masa flour in a bowl with a pinch of salt, then add in the warm water. Mix together with your hands to form a soft pliable dough. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and rest for at least 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll each piece into a ball.

Prepare a plastic sheet and place a ball inside it, then place a heavy wooden chopping board on top and press down hard to flatten the dough into a thin disc. Set aside on greaseproof paper.


Line a tortilla press with greaseproof paper or plastic, place a ball on it and press gently but firmly in press to form a thin disc. Set aside on greaseproof paper.

Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat without any oil. Peel greaseproof paper from the tortilla and cook the tortilla, turning twice until slightly browned. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Stack cooked tortillas in a large bowl lined with a tea towel as you go and rest to steam gently and soften slightly (3 minutes).

Vietnamese Turmeric and Dill Fish (Cha Ca)


•    400g firm white fish fillets (I used cod), cut into 2cm pieces

Turmeric and Dill Marinade
•    1 tablespoon crushed garlic
•    2 tablespoon shallots, finely diced
•    ½ tablespoon grated galangal (or ginger)
•    1 tablespoon dill, chopped
•    pinch of ground salt and black pepper
•    1 teaspoon turmeric powder
•    2 tablespoons fish sauce
•    2 ½ teaspoons sugar
•    1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Mix the fish pieces thoroughly with the turmeric and dill marinade, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat some oil in a frying pan or grill and cook the fish until it is evenly brown on each side and cooked through.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Prawns


•    15 prawns, shelled and deveined
•    2 stalks lemongrass, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (use bottom third only)
•    2 shallots, roughly chopped into small pieces
•    2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped into small pieces
•    1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
•    pinch of ground salt and black pepper
•    ½ teaspoon sugar
•    1 teaspoon fish sauce
•    2 teaspoons vegetable oil


Pound the lemongrass, shallots and garlic together in a mortar and pestle, then add in salt, pepper, sugar and fish sauce, and pound until finely ground. Mix in vegetable oil.

Note: This can also be done with a blender or you can grate the lemongrass, shallots and garlic with a microplane and mix with other ingredients.

Marinate the prawns with the lemongrass mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Heat some oil in a frying pan or grill and cook the prawns on each side until lightly charred or the prawns have changed colour and are cooked through.



•    3 ripe tomatoes
•    2 tablespoons, chopped coriander
•    ¼ red onion, finely chopped
•    1 small red chilli, finely chopped or a splash of Tabasco sauce
•    2 teaspoons olive oil
•    juice of half a lime
•    salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mushroom Apocalypse on a Desert

I get a lot apocalypse related keyword searches as a result of the name of my blog, so this year as we approach the ever impending doom of the Apocalypse that is predicted to occur on 21.12.2012, I will be on an endeavour to cook some apocalypse inspired posts.

Here’s my first apocalypse inspired dish - “Mushroom Apocalypse on a Desert”.

One of the predictions for the Apocalypse on 21.12.2012 is that there will be a galactic alignment, where the Sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy for the first time in about 26,000 years. Some predict that this galactic alignment has the potential to create a shift in the Earth's poles and cause a series of catastrophic environmental events. In this scenario, we could be obliterated, everything is destroyed, it will be a dry and hostile environment like a desert (a common environment for post-apocalyptic movies, for example, Mad Max 2). Survival above ground will be difficult, the general solution will be to seek shelter underground. In fact, sales of bunkers have gone up after the Japanese earthquakes last year, business is booming in doomsday bunkers.

So for this dish I wanted to use the desert as a theme. Polenta was an ideal contender to be the desert as it resembles sand. But more importantly, polenta was originally and still is classified as peasant food, which will be the state that we will be reverted back to once the apocalypse occurs right? Polenta is easy to cook, has a long storage life, and is cheap and filling. It’s something that you would want to pack into your apocalypse survival kit as it will be relied on as a food staple as it always has been during times of hardship and struggle, like war, famine, tough economic times…

When thinking about what I could cook to put on top of the desert, one of the first things that came to mind were mushrooms for many reasons:

•    Foraging is all the rage at the moment and this trend will continue into the apocalypse as supermarkets will cease to operate and exist, so we will be hunting and gathering again like our ancestors did. You often see mushrooms out in the wild so it’s food that you can try foraging for in an apocalypse. But be careful because a lot of wild mushrooms are dangerous (deadly even) and not fit for human consumption. This also means that mushrooms can be used as a defense weapon by cooking the poisonous ones and feeding them to your enemies. Check out this link and commit to memory deadly looking fungi.

•    Mushrooms are easy to grow and do not require sunlight which is beneficial when you are living in an underground bunker in an apocalypse.

•    The golden rule for using mushrooms is to never wash them. That’s a bonus right? Because water will be scarce in an apocalypse. Mushrooms are extremely porous and soak up water like a sponge, if they are washed, it can spoil their texture, create too much moisture and impair their flavour. To prepare mushrooms for cooking, you can brush them with a small cleaning brush or wipe them carefully with a damp kitchen towel.

•    Mushrooms can solve any problems that arise when vegetarians and carnivores have to cook and eat together in an apocalypse. Mushrooms are considered meat for vegetarians – thick flesh with a meaty texture and savoury flavour, it will satisfy vegetable and meat eaters alike. 

I wasn’t always a fan of mushrooms, my first experiences of eating it was raw in salads and sandwiches, and I don’t think that mushrooms taste that good raw. No offence to raw foodists but food it meant to be thrown over a fire. Browning mushrooms causes the Maillard Reaction which develops and intensifies its flavour. When you eat mushrooms that have been cooked properly, they are a real treat.

There are hundreds of edible mushrooms and if you are going to be eating a lot of mushrooms, like I will be in the apocalypse, you want to know how to cook them a few different ways to keep things interesting. I tried to find as many different ways to cook mushrooms as I could and ended up with five different ways, including three methods that I have never tried before – deep frying mushrooms, confit mushrooms and cooking mushrooms en papillote.

 (Can you name all the mushroom in this photo?)
(soaking porcini)

Mushroom Apocalypse on a Desert

Polenta for the Desert

•    Soft polenta – Bring 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to boil in a saucepan, add ½ cup of polenta in a constant stream with one hand and whisk vigorously with the other until the mixture starts to boil. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, then turn the heat down to a low simmer, stir the mixture more or less constantly for ~20-30 minutes until the polenta comes away from the sides of the saucepan, has a soft and creamy texture that is not runny or grainy. Add a tablespoon or more of butter and stir in until it melts.

Mushrooms cooked 5 ways (I used 7 different types of mushrooms)

•    Saute swiss brown mushrooms – Slice the swiss brown mushrooms. Melt butter in a frying pan, and sauté the mushrooms on a high heat until they have turned golden brown and the released juices have evaporated. (Note: “Don’t overcrowd the pan” – or the mushrooms will steam rather than brown)

(This is my favourite way of cooking mushrooms and how I usually cook them)

•    Deep fried enoki mushrooms – Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a small saucepan and add in enoki mushrooms, in small batches at a time and deep fry until golden, this will be very quick and take around 10-20 seconds.

(I went out on a whim with this one. I decided to deep fry enoki mushrooms for texture, although I am not sure that I would do this again in the future as the spongey texture of mushrooms is not ideal deep frying material. It released a lot of water into the oil and splattered a lot, it was actually quite a dangerous experiment! I think this would work better if the mushrooms are covered in some tempura style batter before deep frying).

•    Roasted portobello mushrooms – Brush the tops of portobello mushrooms with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Place mushrooms on a baking tray lined with foil or greaseproof paper and roast for 15 minutes until they have browned.

•    Oyster, enoki and hon-shimeji mushrooms en papillote (baked in a bag) – Marinate mushrooms with a miso mixture (1/2 tablespoon white miso paste, ½ tablespoon mirin, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon honey, splash of extra virgin olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper). Split the mushrooms between pieces of greaseproof paper, top with thyme and scrunch into a parcel, secured with string (will look like a money bag). Place the parcels on a baking tray and cook at 180C in the oven until you see juices being released in the bag – about 12-15 minutes.

Marinated mushrooms
Mushroom parcel
 Mushrooms en papillote

•    Confit mushrooms (adapted from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander) –

(Note: Why it is important to read a recipe before you make it! – I came across this recipe for mushroom confit from the Cook’s Companion and bought all the ingredients for it, then on the day that I had planned for apocalypse cooking I read the recipe and found out that you are required to seal and leave the mushroom confit for at least 2 months. I had not planned for this additional 2 months and when I tried the mixture after cooking it I found it really tasty so I decided to use it straight away, but I’m sure that it would have tasted much better after storing for 2 months. The recipe was slightly modified as a result with more olive oil added during the beginning of the cooking process, instead of pouring it over the top at the end)


•    1 head garlic
•    15g dried porcini mushroom
•    300g button mushrooms
•    1 bay leaf
•    1 sprig thyme
•    100ml extra virgin olive oil
•    freshly ground salt and black pepper
•    1/4 cup sherry vinegar


Preheat oven to 180C. Wrap garlic head in oiled foil and bake in oven until tender (30-45 minutes).

Pour boiling water over the dried porcini mushrooms and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Lift the porcini mushrooms from soaking liquid and squeeze (strain the soaking liquid and freeze for later use in a soup or stew).

Place porcini, roasted garlic, button mushroom, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ oil in a baking dish which can also be used on top of stove (or in my case a pan that can be used in the oven). Grind some pepper over the top and cover tightly with foil. Roast for about 30 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.

Transfer baking dish/pan to top of stove and add sherry vinegar over medium-high heat, stirring to dislodge any stuck-on bits. Allow vinegar to bubble up and reduce. Remove garlic and peel the skin off. Discard thyme, bay leaves and garlic skins.

Put the garlic, mushrooms, all the juices and 1/4 of the leftover olive oil in a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree. Taste for seasoning, add in salt or pepper if desired.

Put the mushroom mixture into a jar and pour over the remaining ¼ of olive oil, use within 2 weeks.

I used the mushroom confit straight away but if you follow the recipe, ideally it should have been packed into a hot, sterilized jar and left for at least 2 months.

To serve: Use your imagination to plate up the polenta and mushrooms in your view of a mushroom apocalypse on a desert.

More mushroom recipes -