Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another springtime treat: morel mushrooms!

Mushrooms are one of my favorite things in the world.  My requests for special occasion food when I was little were usually mushroom pizza or cream of mushroom soup.  (I know-weird for a kid, right?)  The first time S made dinner for me he made a fabulous mushroom soup.  I don't remember if I had tipped him off or if it was just a really intuitive choice.  I won him over with rhubarb pie and he won me over with that soup.

Spring morel hunting has always been a thrill. Growing up surrounded by woodlands, we often had a pretty amazing harvest, and a couple of years ago we came upon a big cache.  For the most part, though, they are fairly elusive.  We spent a couple of hours searching this past weekend, only to come up empty-handed.  S called on his way home from work last night to tell me that he had a surprise. When he arrived home, he immediately called me up to the kitchen to see my surprise-a bowl full of morels!
(I wish I had a photo to put here, but I was so excited, that I forgot to take one)

I could have easily made a meal out of buttered bread and sauteed morels, but thought that I should probably add a little more substance.  My concoction was full of fabulous flavors, and I'd like to develop this one a bit more to make it more sophisticated and showy.  But, here is last night's version.....
Ham and Pink Lady Apple Ragout
with Artichoke Romaine Salad and Sauteed Morels

1 medium Pink Lady Apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup cubed cooked ham
1/4 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
-saute onion and apple in 2 T olive oil until translucent and lightly browned
-deglaze pan with broth, then add ham, salt and pepper
-cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, until heated through

1 head Romaine lettuce, sliced
1 artichoke heart (with a little of the juice from the jar), finely chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

-combine artichoke,olive oil, vinegar, lemon and salt and pepper
-whisk well, then pour over Romaine


-adjust ingredient amounts according to number of morels-when in doubt, add more butter!
-saute slice morels in butter, minced garlic and salt

This made for a pretty tasty combination, but any one of these elements would work on their own or with other menus. 

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