Mushroom Foraging in the Pine Forest

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There is something magical about a walk in the pine forest. Giant trees casting beautiful shadows over the forest floor with rays of sunshine breaking through and highlighting the tiniest of flowers and, if in luck, a collection of tiny mounds, pine needles carefully concealing hidden treasures, delicious gold, Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, waiting to become part of an Epic Deluxe Picnic Sandwich.
 
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We were introduced to the practice of mushroom foraging by the wonderful Diego Bonetto. Diego guides clueless city folk (like us) in time old traditions and helps people to connect with nature through their stomachs. He also manages to keep everyone in his groups alive so I’m very pleased we learnt from such an experienced guide.
 
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We decided to return this year and some of our friends trusted us enough to come along too. After only one day of rain (and an unseasonably hot start to Autumn) we weren’t really facing peak mushroom foraging conditions but luckily we had a Danish man in our party. Why is this relevant, you ask? Well I have a little theory that Europeans have an innate mushroom finding ability, even if they’ve never set foot in a pine forest. And of course my highly scientific theory was proven when we found our first mushroom. ‘Danish man’ accidentally stepped on one and exclaimed “is this what we are looking for?”
 
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Epic Deluxe Picnic Sandwiches
Serves 6-8

To make our epic deluxe picnic sandwiches we used Rosemary and Potato bread & Seeded Sourdough from Bourke St bakery.

Three things to prepare before you leave the house:

Salsa verde

•1 small clove garlic, peeled
•5 anchovies
•2 Tbsp capers
•3 cornichons
•2 cup flat leaf parsley
•1 cup mint
•1 Tbsp dijon mustard
•2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
•6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•1 Tbsp lemon juice
•Sea salt
•Freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop garlic, anchovies, capers and cornichons into a fine paste in a food processor (or by hand). Add parsley and mint and pulse to chop. With processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil to create a smooth paste. Add dijon mustard, vinegar, lemon juice & blitz to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast garlic aioli

•1 head of Garlic
•1 cup mayonnaise (we used store bought mayonnaise but of course homemade would be awesome)
•3 Tbsp olive oil
•Salt

Preheat oven to 180°C. Cut the top off a whole garlic, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over a pinch of salt. Cover in tin foil and roast for 40 minutes until caramelised. Pinch the bottom of the garlic and it should ‘ooze’ out easily. In a small bowl, mash garlic with a fork and mix in mayonnaise and olive oil. Season to taste.

Roast capsicums

•2 large red capsicum
•3 large yellow chilli peppers

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a roasting tray with foil and roast the capsicum and large yellow chilli peppers in the oven till the skin blisters and blackens. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with glad wrap and leave for 20 minutes to sweat the skins off the peppers. When cool, peel the skins and remove the cores and stems.

A few things to pack (along with the three previous things):

•3 large zucchini
•500g block haloumi
•A splash of white vinegar and water to clean your mushrooms after you find them
•A towel to dry your mushrooms on
•Skewers
•A large container or bowl (to marinade roasted veges in)
•¼ cup olive oil
•1 thinly sliced garlic
•1 tsp salt
 
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Things to prepare onsite at the BBQ picnic area:

Thinly slice zucchini lengthways and lightly coat in oil before placing on the BBQ to cook.
Lightly coat roasted capsicum and yellow peppers in oil and place on the BBQ to achieve nice char marks.
Slice mushrooms in half and place on skewers. Lightly oil and grill on the BBQ.
When all the vegetables are cooked remove them from the BBQ and place in the large container with the olive oil, garlic and salt. Leave to marinade while you prepare the haloumi and bread.
Slice the block of haloumi into 10-12 pieces. Lightly oil and grill on the BBQ till soft.
Slice bread and lightly grill each side to achieve griddle marks. 

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To assemble the Epic Deluxe Picnic Sandwiches:

Place down one slice of bread. Spread a layer of aioli on top. Spread a layer of salsa verde on top of that. Place a selection of the roast vegetables on top of that. Place 2 pieces of melted haloumi on top of that. Place another piece of bread on top of that. Next, attempt to hold epic deluxe picnic sandwich in your hands and eat it, throwing caution to the wind (this will be messy, but oh so delicious!) 

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And incase you feel peckish after that, why not whip up some of these Anzac biscuits to fill the void?
 
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These Anzac biscuits have a wholesome taste (from the use of spelt flour) and are not too sweet for those whose tastebuds favour the savoury side of life. They are the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea and were happily gobbled up after our fancy lunch in the forest.

Healthy Anzac Cookies by Amber Rose (Love Bake Nourish)
Makes 20
 
• 1 ¼ Cup spelt flour
• 1 ¼ Cup shredded coconut
• 1/3 Cup sultanas
• 2/3 Cup rolled oats
• Pinch of salt
• 9 Tbsp unsalted butter
• ¼ cup honey
• ½ tsp baking soda
 
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
Mix flour, coconut, sultanas, oats & salt in a large bowl.
Melt the butter and honey in a small saucepan over gentle heat, stirring until smooth.
Mix baking soda with 2 Tbsp boiling water & add to dry ingredients with the melted honey and butter. Stir to combine.
Roll pieces of the dough into small balls (the size of a walnut) and place on the prepared baking sheets. Allow space between each. Flatten them slightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. 

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xxBlighStBistro

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