Like flimsy paperclips to a magnet, food trends mesmerise me into submission. Yep. I love exploring the hipsteria behind a trend’s conception, and why they grow wings or hit the tarmac burning.
Functional mushrooms are this week’s top pick from my toy box of trends. By functional, I mean fruiting bodies from a variety of wild mushrooms which are powdered and can be added to coffee, shakes and smoothies for a sneaky nutritional twist.
While I will always prefer noshing into pan-fried whole ’shrooms, their powdered equivalent has opened up a whole new playground for my mushroom-hating son. Adding reishi powder to this creamy cacao sauce seems to considerably improve the chocolatey buzz, for example.
Look for brands such as Four Sigmatic or Mushrooms 4 Life, both of which are organic, non-GMO, and free from fillers and carriers. Mad expensive, be warned!
For 6 servings
To poach the pears, you will need:
180g golden caster sugar or coconut sugar
800ml hot water
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways (optional)
6 pears, peeled
To make the reishi cacao sauce, you will need:
80g light tahini
4 tablespoons maple or date syrup
1 teaspoon reishi mushroom powder (optional)
Splash of tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 In a snug, deep saucepan, dissolve the golden caster sugar or the coconut sugar, whichever you are using, in the 800ml of hot water. Adding a vanilla pod is optional but tastes fantastic if you have one. Keep the pan over a medium heat.
2 Now, add the peeled pears. You may need to slightly slice the butts of the fruit, to give straight bottoms, which will make it easier to stand the pears up. Simmer the pears gently under a lid until tender, making sure the water almost covers the pears. You can check their progress by sticking the sharp point of a knife into a pear to see whether it’s ready or not. I find 20 minutes does the trick, but this will largely depend on what variety of pear I’ve bought and how ripe the fruit is. You don’t want mushy pears, so it’s worth checking frequently.
3 Make the cacao sauce. In a bowl, use a fork to whisk together the light tahini, the maple syrup or date syrup, whichever you are using, the reishi mushroom powder, if you are using it, the tamari or soy sauce, whichever you are using, the water and the cacao powder or the cocoa powder, whichever you are using. Whisk until lusciously smooth. Set the sauce aside. (This sauce is also great on porridge, waffles, pancakes or from the spoon.)
4 Once the pears are tender, serve them straight away or let them cool in the syrup until they are ready to serve — remove the vanilla pod, if you’ve used one. (The pears will keep perfectly in the fridge for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to serve, warm up the pears in the syrup or serve them chilled.) To serve, arrange one perky pear per plate. Drizzle with the reishi cacao sauce, and then turn the volume up on a suitably operatic aria.