Mushroom cappucino

I hope you realise how lucky you are to have me. How hard I work on your behalf. Do you know how much washing up there is involved in this little jig? I mean, I could just eat takeaway every night but I don’t. I slaaaave away! Over a stove! Barefoot and pregnant! Just so you don’t make a mess of recipes.

This is the sort of mood I’m in at the moment. Vile. Self-pitying. Martyrish. Rather than just doing whatever it takes to keep myself in a decent mood, I am tiring myself out, trying to do certain things, tick certain boxes and then snapping at everyone because I have run myself ragged or not had a nice time.

I’ve got to stop this. That way misery and divorce lies.  I realised at some point last year that if you are a wife and mother, you control the mood in your house. It’s not your husband, or your child, it’s you. If you are in a rat, everyone suffers; if you are depressed, everyone suffers. Happy wife, goes the saying, happy life.

Take yesterday. I decided on a whim to cook a three-course meal for my husband from things picked out of Celebrate, by Pippa Middleton. They all looked tasty to me and I haven’t been doing many new things recently, so I thought I would. The menu went as follows:

Mushroom cappucino
Raspberry souffle

P-Mid did not, I ought to point out, put this menu together herself – these are just things I picked at random to make up a dinner.

And I ran myself absolutely flipping ragged doing it. By 8.30pm I was basically asleep on the sofa but hadn’t yet finished the raspberry souffle, which was unbelievably complicated (although in the end a terrific success).

Anyway I recommend each of these dishes to you individually, (my husband said he had never eaten such good food in a domestic kitchen before, which makes rather a mockery of the last five years), but maybe don’t do them altogether.

It would be too much to post all three recipes here, so I’ll do each one in turn. Today it’s mushroom cappucino, which is basically a little cup of delicious mushroom soup garnished with a froth. Giles says this is very early Nineties – Gordon Ramsay invented the soup cappucino apparently. But in 1993 I still hadn’t been to a restaurant that wasn’t McDonald’s, so it all rather passed me by.

Generally-speaking I don’t like soup, but what I mean by that is that I don’t like a huge bowl of sloppy soup that you have to plough through. I’m always delighted with a little shot-glass amuse bouche of incredibly tasty soup that you gulp in one or two goes and go “yum yum”. So this is what this is.

Mushroom cappucino
Serves 6

300g mixed mushrooms – chestnut/portobello mushrooms, for example
300ml milk
100ml double cream
dried mushrooms – wild or portobello or whatever
1 pint chicken stock
salt and pepper
4 spring onions
1 large clove garlic
butter and oil for frying
salt and pepper

1 Wash and roughly chop the mushrooms and spring onions. Melt about 40g butter with 2 tbsp groundut oil in a large pan and then sautee the mushrooms, spring onions and sliced garlic very hot for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the time and keep everything moving around the pan. You do not want the garlic to catch and burn because it will taste filthy.

2 Now pour over the chicken stock and bring it all to a simmer for a minute.

3 Blend this however you can – with a stick blender or in a whizzer or whatever. Add 200ml milk, a long sloop of double cream and then season generously with salt and pepper.

4 To make your sprinkles, grind a palmful of dried mushrooms with a pinch of salt and about 10 turns of the pepper grinder in a peste and mortar if you have one. If not, you could probably just about get it all chopped up in a whizzer.

5 To serve put a ladleful of soup in a cup, topped with the froth off some frothed milk and a sprinkling of your dried mushroom powder.

To froth your milk, put about 100 ml in a pan and heat it gently then using one of those stick frother things, froth the milk in the pan over the heat. You will probably have to hold the pan at an angle and heat the cornered milk up over the flame.

(I am grateful to my sister Harriet for this tip as I had always tried to froth milk just heated up in the microwave and it doesn’t work – at least, you don’t get a foam.) 

If you don’t have a stick frother thingy, it’s perfectly okay to just drizzle on top of the soup some more double cream and add your sprinkles to that. I’m sure you could still call it a mushroom cappucino. I won’t tell Gordon.

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