Genus Morchella, Season Spring
This elusive mushroom is found in diverse habitats:
woodlands, especially those affected by forest fire
urban ares: hiding in plain sight along sidewalks, haunting abandoned railroads.
Morels appear after a spring rain, and disappear just as suddenly- a major frustration for mushroom hunters who say luck has a lot to do with finding morels.
smoky, nutty, earthy
According to The Complete Book of Mushrooms, by Peter Jordan and Steven Wheeler, “…Morels have a rich flavor that combines well with other rich ingredients such as eggs, cream, and Madeira.”
Butter & Cream
The rich, earthy flavor of morels is best suited to cooking in butter or cream, rather than olive oil. However, I recommend a peppery extra virgin olive oil drizzled over morel soup or pasta just before serving.. READ MORE...
hot water from the kettle
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, sliced into cute little discs
1/2 cup baby peas, frozen is fine just take the chill off before adding them to the soup
2 quarts homemade chicken stock **
3/4 cup ditaloni pasta **
1/2 bunch watercress, just the tender little leaves
Now that you and the morel have been introduced, it’s time to get to know one another. Out in the world you will find many recipes for fresh morels, which I think is funny because most of us regular people do not have access to fresh morels. We do have access to dried morels, though. I believe dried morels can be used in any recipe calling for fresh, you just have to get the dried mushroom re-hydrated and ready to rock and roll.
Follow the instructions on the package for re-hydrating dried morels. This means pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over the mushrooms and allowing them to sit and plump up for a few minutes. Both the mushrooms and their soaking liquid can be added to a dish for flavor – just strain the liquid of any grit first. Morels are very delicate. Be gentle with them, and use them to finish a dish by raising the level of presentation with their unique texture and smoky, nutty flavor.. READ MORE...
This is a tough time of year. The calendar says spring, but I’m still waiting for veggies to pop their little green heads out of the soil. March is historically Colorado’s snowiest month, there will still be frosts in April and the farmers markets won’t really get going until May. I’ve got spring fever so bad – I’m sick of “hearty winter comfort food”. My body is craving fresh salad, ripe fruit, hand-picked herbs…
Magazine covers are still featuring soups and stews and cozy fires. I don’t have a cure for spring fever (other than spring) but I do have a way to treat the symptoms. Get through by cooking creatively with what’s in the pantry right now. The ingredient of the week is dried mushrooms – specifically morels.
Morels are in season during springtime, though not exactly growing in everyone’s backyard. However, dried morels are pretty easy for anyone to find. Chances are your local spice shop or cheese shop carries them. If not, dried morels are readily available through online merchants. These dried mushrooms may seem pricey, but a little goes a long way. Their intricately honeycombed texture combined with colors of gray and brown make a striking visual impact displayed in a glass jar on the counter. I also find it interesting that morels are often described as having a smoky taste. Spring morels are found in areas affected by forest fires in the previous year. Coincidence or terroir?. READ MORE...