Food and Drink: The rewards of getting pickled: Recipe

THE SOUTH, say my Italian guides to mushroom hunting, is picked out. But reports flood in that East Anglia is still covered in delicious wild fungi. Fittingly enough, this last instalment in our series on cooking with mushrooms comes from Norfolk. Elisabetta Cavalli, who has lived in Britain for seven years, writes: 'I believe this country is a real mushroom-hunter's paradise . . . I hope British people will discover this most rewarding pastime, but there again, I would prefer they would not.'

Here follow two of her recipes, the first a northern Italian pickling formula for wild mushrooms, the second a risotto recipe favoured by her family in Lombardy for Sunday lunch. Ms Cavalli will receive two bottles of 1991 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc from Winecellars in south London.

Funghi Sott'olio

Yield: 1/4 litre/1/2 pint

Ingredients: 1/2 litre/14fl oz wine vinegar

4 plump cloves of garlic, halved

10-12 bay leaves

3-4 cloves

4-5 black peppercorns

350g/12oz mixed woodland mushrooms

strong, good extra virgin olive oil

1/4 litre/1/2 pint sterilised airtight jar

salt, pepper

Preparation: Wipe and trim mushrooms, cutting the largest into smaller pieces. Add vinegar, peppercorns, cloves, 4 bay leaves, 2 halved garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp salt to a large casserole. Add mushrooms and enough water to just cover them. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Drain and bottle in layers using the leftover garlic and bay leaves, alternating mushrooms, bay leaves, garlic and peppercorns. (Ms Cavalli stresses not to use your hands in the bottling. I am less strict on this point, as long as your hands are clean.) Fill the jar as tightly as possible, then pour olive oil over until it covers the mushrooms. Leave jar open until it cools, then seal and store in a cool place for at least two weeks.

NEVER turn your nose up at a porcino. If it is beyond eating fresh, but short of compost, the answer is probably to slice and dry it. This can be done in an airing cupboard for 3 days. The cupboard, will smell like a Chinese restaurant afterwards, but will be fit for linen again in a couple of hours. The following recipe can be made with either fresh or dry porcini. If reconstituting dry ones, soak them overnight, then use the water in lieu of some of the stock required. The rice, which must be Italian arborio, should be available in Italian delicatessens.

Risotto ai Funghi Porcini

Serves 4

Ingredients: 2 or 3 large porcini (ceps), wiped, trimmed, sliced and sauteed in butter, garlic and parsley, or 50g/2oz dried porcini, soaked and sauteed as above

500g/1lb arborio rice

1 large onion, peeled and diced

1tbs butter

1tbs olive oil

1 glass of dry white wine

1 litre/2 pints of stock

50g/2oz freshly grated parmesan

salt and pepper

Preparation: Prepare mushrooms and reserve. Prepare a large casserole with at least 2 pints of stock simmering next to a large saucepan to be used for the risotto. Heat olive oil in saucepan, dissolve butter into it, then sweat the onion until soft over medium to low heat. Add rice, mix, then add wine. Stir until it evaporates. Gradually add hot stock, always stirring. As liquid is absorbed, keep adding stock, two or three ladles at a time. After 10-15 minutes, add the sauteed mushrooms. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. When the dish has reached a soft, porridge-like consistency, stir in parmesan, and double cream if you wish. Add freshly grated pepper and serve immediately.

Next week's theme is cooking with pumpkins. Please send your recipes, stating the source if not original, to Emily Green, Recipe, the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Those whose recipes we print will receive two bottles of 1991 Avignonesi Bianco from Reid Wines, near Bristol.

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