Updated: Jul 20, 2018
225g (8oz) dried pasta shells
Salt and pepper
450g (1 lb) button mushrooms, wiped
25g (1 oz) butter
90ml (3 fl oz brandy
15ml (1 tablespoon) chopped fresh tarragon
15ml (1 tablespoon) chopped fresh chives
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream (or you can split this quantity between double cream and low fat creme fraiche - diluting it with a splash of milk if it looks too thick)
100g (4oz) grated Parmesan cheese (you can grate it freshly but I usually use one packet of grated parmesan cheese from the supermarket)
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.
Drain and immediately refresh under cold water, then drain well and toss with a little oil to prevent from sticking.
Halve or quarter the mushrooms if large. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the mushrooms, and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until golden. Add the brandy if using and boil rapidly until only 30ml (2 tablespoons) of the liquid remains. Stir in the chopped herbs and remove from the heat.
Toss the mushrooms with the pasta and transfer to a lighly oiled gratin dish. Mix the cream (or cream/creme fraiche mixture) with half the parmesan and pour over the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake in the oven at 190C (170C Fan) or Gas Mark 5 for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve hot.