Monica lives in a field in West Lothian, where she is slowly building her dream eco home. She is currently planting and encouraging medicinal and foraging species across 4 wild acres and have been fascinated by herbs and plants since childhood. Her original interest was sparked by a wild childhood in Kenya, where she was introduced to herbal medicine by a local Kikuyu herbalist at the age of six. She says, “We were outdoors most of the time and I remember joyfully the freedom of those early years. I love foraging for wild food as well as wild medicine and would happily never visit a supermarket again.” Monica owns and runs Napiers the Herbalist, founded in 1860, alongside Dee Atkinson one of the UK’s leading medical herbalists. She is currently studying for an MSC in herbal medicine at the University of Lancashire with a special interest in beneficial drug herb and micronutrient interaction. See her wonderful wild mushroom pâté recipe below.
In late September and October it seems as if there’s a hen of the woods around every oak tree. I’ve found 8 in the last 4 days. It has a lovely almost Stilton cheese fragrance. Having so many it’s been a job to get through them so made this delicious pâté.
250g hen of the woods or other wild mushrooms
250g pack soft cream cheese
25g walnuts (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper
Finely slice your hen and sauté in the butter for about 10 minutes until just starting to brown. Leave to cool.
For a smooth pâté, Put in your blender and blend with the cream cheese, salt and pepper.
For a coarse pâté, chop the cooked mushrooms finely and blend in the cream cheese with a wooden spoon. You can also substitute the cream cheese for drained cottage cheese if you like more texture.
Mix in the finely chopped walnuts. If the flavour needs punching up (not needed with hen but sometimes with field mushrooms) and a spoon of bolete powder at the seasoning stage.
Leave in the fridge overnight for the flavours to fully develop. Return to room temperature before serving.
Eat with warm French or walnut bread, or on oatcakes.
This recipe was inspired by John Wright’s pâté recipe from his book Mushrooms.
NB: We don’t all have the time or resources to go foraging, but can still enjoy delicious organic mushrooms; they are available from local farmers markets or Wholefoods stores across the UK. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/
For more from Monica, visit her website: www.monicawild.com
Disclaimer – Please ensure you you only pick mushrooms in the wild if you are an expert on wild funghi and know which mushrooms are edible and which are poisonous. Or you go on a mushroom picking walk with an expert forager like the fabulous Monica Wilde!