A la forestière in French cuisine invariably means the dish contains mushrooms, because in autumn every self-respecting peasant is out there scouring the woods for fungi while hoping to avoid trigger-happy hunters. All we’ve scored so far are a few piboules from the poplar tree in our garden, but luckily dried ceps are always on hand to add a secret kick to savoury dishes.
This Jane Grigson recipe (from her Vegetable Book) worked wonders with the woody organic carrots in our veggie box. She serves them in hollowed-out bread rolls brushed with butter and crisped in the oven; I just served them on toasted muffins. They make a good vegetarian starter or light lunch/supper, but would also be an excellent accompanying vegetable for a roast, with or without the bread.
You could just use common-or-garden cultivated mushrooms, but fresh or dried ceps (porcini) will take it into another league.
750 g carrots, sliced fairly thickly
light, not too highly seasoned stock (beef, chicken, vegetable…)
1/2 tsp sugar
a knob of butter
250 g fresh mushrooms, preferably including some ceps, or dried mushrooms soaked in hot water, or a mixture of both
150 ml cream
chopped parsley and/or chives
juice of half a lemon
Put the carrots in a pan and just cover with stock. Add sliced dried mushrooms if using (I added some of the soaking liquid too, because it’s full of flavour). Add sugar and nutmeg and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or so, until the carrots are tender and the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency. If you are using fresh mushrooms, slice them and fry in a little butter till lightly browned, while the carrots are cooking. Add them to the cooked carrots, then add the cream and herbs and stir over low heat for a couple of minutes to thicken and amalgamate the sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste and serve immediately.