Again a gap between posts...I got back on Sunday morning, and had a hectic Monday. As I drove through the Foret Barade on my way to Fleurac for my on going French language lessons, I noticed that the forest was alive with cars parked in every hunting lane and figures furtively sneaking through the underbrush. I immediately understood, with all the rain and warm days and cool nights, the cepes had emerged. It was a record breaking abundance! I visited friends after lunch to pick up my chainsaw and we walked in the woods in back of their house and immediately found quite a few. I had to leave and noticed cars on my lane by the forest near me. That night, there were severe weather warnings and I saw lots of lightning in the North Sky when I took J Edgar for a walk. We awoke to howling wind and lashing rain! The wind got heavier and heavier and there were a few moments when I felt it inside this 135 year old stone house! No drafts though! It blew intensely for over 4 hours and when it was over, an old dying peach tree which had supported a very nice wild rose vine had fallen, lots of branches from the willow and some of my supports for the raspberries had snapped. While the storm was at its peak, the lights flickered and died. The electricity stayed off for us and 300,000 others in the Gironde and the Dordogne until late last night. I had to borrow a generator for a few hours to power the freezer. 48 hours with out electricity was a snap for us, lots of candles, ice packs in the fridge, friends came over to play monopoly by candlelight and drink wine. I could only imagine a 48 hour black out in a big city. 6 hours is enough to inspire riots in New York! Of course we were lucky, there are huge floods in the North East of France and many big dead trees came down all over the place. After I had cleaned up the initial debris here, I took J Edgar into our forest and with in 30 minutes I had collected 4 kilos of the biggest cepes I have ever seen! There were 3 varieties, all very good including the classic cepe de bordelaise! Last night I had an omelette with a little dried ham, cepes and parsely, it was the best omelette I had ever eaten in my life! In the picture, the largest mushroom is over 7 inches across!
Here is the classic Cepe Recipe of the Dordogne: Pommes de terre sautees sarladaises aux cepes.
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into slices or little pyramids
500 grams of cepes roughly chopped
1 slice of bacon finely cut in dice
3 points of garlic chopped
4 or 5 branches of parsely finely chopped
4 big soup spoons of goose or duck fat
a little olive oil
salt and pepper
Rinse the potatoes in warm water after they are cut up to remove the starch and dry..
Put the olive oil in the pan and heat up and fry the cepes briefly until the get a little brown then stop and add the parsely and garlic, you can salt and pepper them. Remove them from the pan.
Then heat up the goose or duck fat and when it is hot, put in the bacon and cook for a few seconds then add the potatoes. The technique is to coat them immediiately with the hot fat which seals them and prevents them from getting soggy. Then use some patience and judgement and let them cook on one side until you feel they are getting color and crispiness and then turn them, probably every 5 tp 6 minutes in a hot fire.
When they are almost done, add the cepes and parsely and garlic, salt and pepper, lower the fire, cover and cook for a few more minutes.
Sometimes the simplest things are the very best! A garlicky salad, nice bread and a Pecharment or Bergerac...........bon apetit!