Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring:two ways. MORELS and asparagus shitake miso frittata!

It's official: spring is here.

All around my neighborhood spring is showing itself. Tulips and hyacinths are bursting, and the trees are covered in white and pink blossoms. My street smells so.good. this time of year.

What better way to celebrate than to cook some food that is really TRULY springy?!

In my part of the country (IOWA) there is nothing that signals spring more than the arrival of the uncultivatible wonder, MOREL MUSHROOMS.

If you have never been lucky enough to have experienced morel mushrooms, even if you hate mushrooms, I implore you. Spend the $20/lb. and get some. They are worth every penny.

Luckily, I'm awesome and have a super-secret spot. If you should be lucky enough to stumble upon a spot yourself, remember that being a morel hunter is much like being a magician: you never, EVER share the secret with anyone outside of the fold. Likewise, you spread the love by toting your bounty home in a mesh bag, rather than a plastic or cloth one, to scatter as many spores as possible.

The trick about morels is that they tend to look just like the normal vegetation on the ground this time of year, that being gray or brown.

Once you spot one, you'll know. They look like little trees

or little brains

some are very little.

If you're lucky, you'll end up with a haul.

All morel lovers are of different minds about how to prepare them. Me, I come from the simplicity school. The less you do the better.

I had a decent batch of mushrooms, so I divided the shrooms in half and prepared them two ways; simply pan-fried in butter, and breaded and fried.

First, cut them in half lengthwise. I used a damp paper towel to clean them off, but their ribs can be tough to get between. A quick splash in very cold water would be ok, but they must then be thoroughly dried.

The traditional breading here is saltine crackers, but I didn't have any on hand, so I made breadcrumbs from homemade wheat bread. (It's easy. Take any bread you have, cube it, roll it in salt and pepper, and bake until they're crunchy. Once they've cooled, just throw them in the food processor.)

Dip your babies into egg wash first, and then into your breading.

I took a page from fried chicken and cooked them in enough canola oil to come halfway up the side of each mushroom.

Take those out and put them on a paper towel to catch any oil. Sorry, these just aren't very cute, and I burned a couple, and I had to use the flash. SORRY. But good lord they were delicious. Morels are meaty and tender, and the breadcrumbs were well seasoned, light, and crunchy. Mmmmm.

I also wanted to approach the mushrooms in the simplest way possible, and butter really makes morels shine, so I simply sauteed them in butter with a little salt and pepper.

These were my favorite. Simply perfect. (seriously, click that one.)

Another sure sign of spring around here is asparagus. The plant itself is just facinating in how it grows (read about it here) and fresh spring asparagus is just delicious. My favorite way to have it is roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

This time, we had some of these great eggs to use.

Break your asparagus ends off by holding a spear on each end and bend. Where it breaks tells you what's good and what should be discarded. Chop them roughly into 1-2 in. pieces, leaving the tips a little longer.

Chop up some yellow onion and slice shitake mushrooms. Here I used on medium onion and six large shitakes. I discarded the stems and only used the caps.

Cook these together in some oil until they're mostly soft. The onions should be transparent.

Take some of those chives you've got growing in that old planter in the backyard. (These grow back after the winter apparently.)

Add them to 10-12 eggs that you've beaten up. Then, add 1/3-2/3 c. milk. In this recipe, I added 1/3 c. milk and 1/3 c. water that I added 1 tsp. of miso paste to. Miso is soybean paste, which is salty and tastes a little like soy sauce. I really like it with the asparagus and the mushrooms.

Pour your egg mixture over vegetables in your pan. (I'm using my cast iron here. You could also use a saucier, or maybe even a paella pan. You want something with a wide flat bottom, large open top, and can be used on the stove top and in the oven. A Dutch or French oven would work in a pinch, but you really want it only a couple inches deep.)

Cover with a thin layer of cheese. I've got a little jack and extra sharp cheddar here.

Keep this on low heat on the stove top until it's cooked most of the way through. For me, that was about 3 minutes. It'll really depend on your stove top, your pan, and the amount of egg mixture you used. (Oh! Be sure your eggs and milk are at room temperature. They will cook more evenly this way.)

Then, throw it under the broiler until the cheese is brown and the rest of the eggs are cooked through.

Yeah, like that.

You've made egg pie! You better have it with bacon.


Ok, you want dessert, too?

Alright. Buy that ice cream machine you've been wanting and make some frozen yogurt with the yogurt you made and the raspberries from the garden.

Put some almonds on top, because they're good.

There you go.

Feel like spring yet?

This glorious/crazy tulip in my yard has FOUR blossoms.

Oh, hey look, I have a garden! Soon all those seedlings will live there!

That's all for now folks! Next time, an equipment review and more deliciousness!


brannyboilsover said...

Morel hunting must be so much fun. I am jealous! Congrats on your garden, can't wait to see what grows.

thecookingnurse said...

My husband has been wanting to take me morel hunting, this looks good!

Scoop said...

Did you say $20/lb for morels? I'm not even sure if my local grocery stores carry them. Mushrooms are my favorite things to eat - I'm always cooking the plain white or bella mushrooms and would love to try these.

I'm still envious of your homemade yogurt and frogurts. I'll just have to tell my husband that Alicia from the blogsphere is commanding us to go buy our ice cream machines now. Summer is here!

Joelen said...

What a great way to use morels!

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