Earthy mushrooms combined with fresh, green asparagus and ribwort plantain / The Ethicurean Cookbook

Mushroom and apple jellies bring this vegetarian dish to life 

St George’s mushrooms with asparagus, ribwort plantain, mushroom jelly and apple jelly

Serves 4

Bunch of asparagus

20 small ribwort plantain flower heads

1tsp mint leaves, preferably spearmint

12-16 summer purslane leaves or other salad leaves

Fine sea salt

For the mushroom jelly:

250g St George’s mushrooms 

Pinch of salt

½tsp agar agar powder

For the apple jelly:

250g apple juice

½tsp agar agar powder

First make the mushroom jelly. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and set the caps aside. Clean the stalks thoroughly and then chop finely. Put them in a pan, cover with 250ml water and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the cooking liquor through a fine sieve into a clean pan, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract it all. Discard the stalks. Measure the cooking liquor and add a dash more water if necessary to take it back up to 250ml. Season with salt – in this instance, a little goes a long way. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the agar agar until dissolved. Bring to the boil briefly to hydrate the agar and activate its gelling properties. Pour into a small plastic box. We use one that gives a final depth of about one centimetre so we can cut the jelly into cubes, but feel free to experiment. Leave to cool, then place in the fridge until set. It will keep for four days.

For the apple jelly, heat the juice in a pan, stir in the agar agar and bring to the boil until dissolved. Leave to cool and then set in a plastic box as described above.

To trim the asparagus, find the natural point where the stalk snaps, close to the base, and break it off. Have a pan of fast-boiling salted water ready and a bowl of iced water too. Cook the asparagus in the rapidly boiling water for up to two minutes, but no more. Remove the spears and chill them in the iced water; they will retain their bright green colour.

Finely slice the reserved mushroom caps and lay them on four plates. Dust with fine sea salt. Lay the asparagus spears on top of the mushrooms. Cut the jelly into small cubes and add a teaspoon of each flavour to each plate, along with the ribwort flowers, mint leaves and purslane. Encouragement for all amateur mycologists!