photo by Joanna
A day or two before my friend and colleague Marion went off to Australia to run a fashion festival at the Sydney Opera House and lots besides, I was at her house in Kentish Town. I offered to cook as Marion and her husband Pete were manically packing for the 3 month trip, and working for various deadlines, Marion’s assistant Joanna was tying up some loose ends. The meal needed to be relatively quick and the theory was to ‘use stuff up’. The ‘stuff’ consisted of most of a pack of mushrooms, half a pack of crème fraîche and some pasta. Of course we ended up buying many more ingredients than we used up, making the endeavour of clearing out the fridge slightly less worthy. Herbs have been on my mind a lot in the last few months – I have had a love affair with the stronger flavoured ones among them: sage, oregano, thyme and in this meal – tarragon. The aniseed twang given by tarragon makes this interesting, and the balance between earthy mushrooms, the warmth of tarragon, the sour creaminess of crème fraîche and lemon zest is very good. To those ingredients, gently sautéed garlic added richness and parsley some fresh irony green flavour.
2 large double handfuls of mushrooms – chestnut or equivalent, sliced up
1 bunch, tarragon, chopped up roughly without stalks
1 bunch, parsley, chopped up roughly without stalks
2 cloves, finely sliced garlic
1 tub, full fat crème fraîche – around 250g
4 tablespoons, olive oil
Tagliatelle – around 100g/each
How to make:
Prepare all of your ingredients: slice the mushrooms, finely slice the garlic, chop the parsley and tarragon – removing the stalks first. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta (idea ratio = 1ltr water/100g pasta/10g salt), and place a large frying pan or sauce pan on the heat for the mushrooms.
Add the garlic to cold olive oil in the pan. Turn on heat and when the oil is hot but the garlic is not yet brown, add the mushrooms. Stir well, and cook for 5 minutes or so, that they are no longer raw, but also make sure they are not stewed right down. Fry in batches if your pan is not big enough. Add the pasta to the water when it is fiercely boiling and remove when al dente, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile, mix the zest of a lemon into the mushrooms and ½ the lemon juice, add the tarragon and parsley and crème fraîche and lots of salt and pepper, and mix well while still on a low heat. Check that you are happy with the seasoning, and if you wish add more lemon juice, or salt. Toss with the tagliatelle and the cup of reserved cooking liquid – serve.
A green salad, and red wine.