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Food

Lyndey Milan’s Mushroom Ragout with Creamy Polenta

Preparation time
10 Minutes + 20 minutes for milk to infuse
Cooking time
15 Minutes
Serves
4

INGREDIENTS

2 cups (500ml milk)

1 bay leaf

1 cup (170g) instant polenta

Pinch salt

1/3 cup (85g) mascarpone, cream or butter

80g pecorino or parmesan, 50g grated, 30g shaved

80g butter

600g mixed mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 cloves garlic chopped

½ cup (125ml) white wine

½ cup (125ml) chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley + extra leaves to garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Enoki mushrooms (optional), separated to garnish – see note

METHOD

1. For the soft polenta: place milk, 2 cups water and bay leaf in a medium saucepan, bring almost to the boil then turn off heat and infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and discard the bay leaf, reheat then gradually whisk in the polenta and salt, whisking until it thickens, then reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 10 minutes, depending on packet instructions. Stir in mascarpone and grated pecorino and mix until melted and combined. Taste and season. Add more hot water or milk, if too thick.

2. For the mushrooms: place large frying pan over medium high heat, melt 20g butter cook enoki mushrooms (if using) for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Add remaining butter, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or until golden but not over-cooked, then add oyster mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, finally add any chopped black fungus (cloud’s ear).

Add white wine, bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute, then add stock, bring to boil then reduce to simmer for 4 minutes over low. Add the thyme and season.

3. To serve: ladle the polenta into the middle of each plate, top with the mushroom ragout, pecorino, enoki mushrooms and parsley leaves and serve immediately.

Lyndey’s note: This ragout is also delicious with a little cream added, over pasta or as a sauce for beef or chicken. Packs of mixed mushrooms for risotto often include black fungus (cloud’s ear), oyster and enoki mushrooms. Separate out enokis for garnish.

Food
Preparation time
10 Minutes + 20 minutes for milk to infuse
Cooking time
15 Minutes
Serves
4

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Impress: Maggie Beer
Words by Mark Hughes on 1 Mar 2016
If there is one person who embodies the themes of nature and nurture, it is Maggie Beer. The nature side comes from her intuitive use of fresh, seasonal ingredients in her recipes and her vast range of food products. The nurture side from her background as a farmer, tending crops from seed to fruit in the wonderfully fertile soils of South Australia’s Barossa Valley. Of course, one could posit that Maggie’s nurturing element also comes from her wholesome, nourishing dishes that bring comfort to our bellies and warmth to our hearts. Or, from her soft caring nature. What you see on TV is what you get with Maggie. She comes across as very maternal, and she is. She’s thoughtful, happy and humble, very much like your best-loved auntie who cooks your favourite recipe, a dish that seemingly hugs your soul and lingers in your memory forever after. All this is quite remarkable when you discover the Maggie Beer story. Originally a Sydney girl, Maggie turned a fondness for food into a way of life when she married her true love, Colin, and moved to the Barossa to support him in his dream to farm pheasants. Maggie took to farm life like a duck to water, growing crops, preserving food, cooking and even starting up her own restaurant. Then she started making her own pâté - her first ‘product’. It was the start of her 35-year ‘overnight’ success. “It was only when I came to live in the Barossa 42 years ago that I really understood the seasons, because here we have four very distinct seasons and we live the rhythm,” Maggie tells me when we sit down for a chat on a warm day in the heart of the Barossa Valley. “All I have ever had to do to cook is follow it as it happens and relate to the produce at hand.” As her orders grew, so did her range, to pastes, jams, dips, oils and, of course, verjuice. In the early 1980s, festooned with an oversupply of Riesling grapes, Maggie turned adversity into opportunity. Having often read about an ingredient called ‘verjus’ in French country cookbooks, she produced what is thought to be the world’s first commercial batch of verjuice, a product these days synonymous with the name Maggie Beer. “I’m quite proud of the verjuice story,” says Maggie. “It’s been around since Roman times, but I’ve pulled it out of obscurity and lots of people have followed, and that’s wonderful because verjuice gives this lovely acid balance to food.”  What’s in a name? These days, Maggie Beer is a household name, the brand probably more so than the woman. It is a double-edged sword lending your name to a brand. It helps in the beginning to get recognition, but should the business grow, it can be like the mariner’s albatross, each weighing the other down. However, it is here where the yin and yang of life has rewarded Maggie. She has only ever given out love and respect, and it has come back to her. She is lauded as a matriarch of the Australian food scene and her business is a reflection of her, run in a morally healthy way by good, honest people. “I often have to pinch myself because I feel that coming to me and it’s not something you seek out,” Maggie says of the adoration she receives from the food loving public. That is not to say she hasn’t been shrewd and tough enough to make strong   business decisions. She admits she is a control freak, even cooking all the dishes for this photoshoot, But she has done it all her way. The natural, nurturing way. “I’ve always been onto this continuous improvement, it’s part of me, I’m driven. But all I have ever done, one step in front of the other, was do what I love and believe in it, without any grand plan, just loving the moment.”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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