The work year is winding down, exams are coming to an end and you can just about breathe again! Time to invite over friends and family for tea and a long leisurely catch-up. Buy the cakes and make these simple but impressive Mushroom Fritters topped with Mascarpone, baby spinach and onion jam or Brie basil and tomato jam. #fritters #familyandfriends #tea



10g dried Porcini mushrooms soaked in ½ cup of boiling water (optional)
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
400g fresh Portabellini or Button mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
½ cup milk (if you are not using the Porcini mushrooms, then make this 1 cup of milk)
2 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
zest of ½ orange
1⅓ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup olive oil for frying

1 If you are using the Porcini mushrooms, drain off the liquid, keeping it aside, and chop the softened mushrooms.

2 Heat a large frying pan over a moderate temperature and add in the butter and the olive oil. Sauté off the sliced fresh mushrooms for about 5 minutes until softened and most of the liquid has been cooked out. Stir in the chopped Porcini, the garlic, thyme and parsley, season and cook for a further minute. Set aside the mushroom mixture to cool.

3 In a separate bowl combine the reserved mushroom liquid if using and the ½ cup of milk, alternately just use the 1 cup of milk. Whisk in the eggs, grated Parmesan and the orange zest, season with a little salt and pepper.

4 Toss the flour with the cooked mushrooms so that all the mushrooms are covered, then gradually stir in the milk and egg mixture until a thick batter is reached.

5 Clean out the same fry pan you used to cook the mushrooms and add in a little of the olive oil, heat it over a moderate temperature.

6 Place spoonfuls of the mushroom batter into the pan, cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Enjoy hot or at room temperature with your favourite topping.

* Re-heat the fritters by covering them with foil and warming in a moderate oven or for 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave, depending on the size of the fritter.

* They keep well in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to three days.