Thank you, Farmers Market shoppers, for your enthusiastic requests for recipes from this past weekend’s markets. The abundance of spring morel mushrooms, the tender seasonal vegetables, and the unseasonably cold and rainy weather prompted the following. Thanks for enjoying the samples at the market, and I encourage you to enjoy them at home as well!
I served these saucy mushrooms over toasted bread at the market, but they are equally good tossed with fresh pasta, over rice, or on top of a baked potato. They make a soigné sauce for chicken, pork chops, or steak – just add 1/2 – 1 cup of chicken or meat broth to the mushrooms after the wine has cooked away, reduce for a minute or two, then add the cream. Better yet, sear your meat in a sauté pan, remove the chicken, then proceed with cooking the mushrooms directly in the same pan. There will be a blissful melding of meat and mushroom flavors!
makes 2 servings
1Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 pound morel mushrooms, washed quickly in a basin of water, then removed to a strainer (if the morels are small, they can be cooked whole, if large, cut in half or smaller – trim any mushroom ends that are caked with earth)
4 Tbsp. spring walla walla onions (or other sweet spring onion), diced
1 or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
salt to taste (ideally, Springwater Farm truffle salt)
1/4 cup chenin blanc wine (or other fruity, not too sweet wine that you would enjoy drinking – love using Shy Chenin from Twist, whose booth can be found at the Portland Farmers Market)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat the olive oil and butter over a medium flame, in a skillet large enough to just hold the mushrooms in a single layer. When the oils are hot, add the mushrooms so that they sizzle. Cook until all of the water that the mushrooms give off cooks away and the mushrooms begin to crisp (8-10 minutes). Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until they are tender (another 2 minutes or so). Season the mushroom mixture with salt.
Add the wine to the mushrooms. Continue to cook until the wine has bubbled away in the pan. Stir in the cream. Bring the creamed morels just to a boil and turn off the heat. Adjust seasonings if needed with salt and pepper (if desired). Serve hot.
3 Tbsp. butter, plus a pat of butter or a little olive oil for sautéing morels for garnishing the risotto
1/4 cup chopped spring onion
1/4 pound morel mushrooms, washed quickly in a basin of water, then removed to a strainer (trim any mushroom ends that are caked with earth). Slice half of the morels into rings, leave the other half of the morels whole if they are small, or cut in half if large.
2/3 cup Arborio rice
a generous pinch of salt (or truffle salt)
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups mushroom or vegetable or meat broth, heated and kept hot
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Over a medium flame, heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a pot large enough to accommodate the rice 2-3 grains deep. Add the onion and cook until just softened (about a minute). Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are mostly cooked and begin to take on some golden brown color. Remove the mushrooms and onions to a plate, leaving behind in the pot as much of the butter as you can.
Add the rice to the pot and toast the grains for a minute or two in the mushroom-onion flavored butter. Season the rice with a generous pinch of salt. Add the wine and stir as it bubbles away.
Add the cooked mushroom-onion mixture back to the pot. Stir in a ladle of hot broth. Let the broth cook into the rice, stirring often. When the broth has been absorbed, and the rice is close to sizzling in the pot, add another ladle of broth. Continue to cook and stir the rice in this manner until the rice is tender (about 15 minutes).
Meanwhile, cook the rest of the mushrooms to garnish the risotto. Heat a pat of butter or some extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan set over a medium flame. Add the whole or halved morels and cook, tossing often, until they are fully cooked and a little crispy. Season with salt.
When the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and blend in the last tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted in, stir in the cheese. The risotto should be quite saucy, but not soupy. It should not stand up on the plate, rather slump in it’s sauce. Serve immediately, with the crispy morels spooned over the top.
*I tested this recipe, but no one was around to help me eat the results…so I spooned the leftover risotto onto a plate and put it in the refrigerator. Later, I mixed in a little breadcrumb (I save uneaten bread from a meal, cut it up and let it dry out, then grind it into crumbs in a food processor, or put it in a plastic bag and bash it into crumbs with a rolling pin), then shaped them into cylinders. I breaded them (“standard breading procedure“) and fried them in hot oil, and we had morel mushroom risotto croquettes with our dinner.
This soup was made with spring vegetables from Spring Hill Farm and Springwater Farm mushrooms. Plus green garlic from Square Peg Farm and carrots and peas from DeNoble’s Farm. I have not re-made the soup since the market, so I don’t have a recipe with tested ingredient amounts. But don’t let that stop you – just use as much of each vegetable as you’d like and the soup is sure to be de-lish. This is a time to let your culinary intuition guide your cooking. You can do it! Here’s the method….
Extra virgin olive oil or butter or both
walla walla spring onions, or another sweet spring (immature) onion
fennel bulb with tops
white wine (not too sweet, light, fruity wine)
a light vegetable broth
young dandelion greens (or another mildly assertive spring green)
sugar snap or shelling peas
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Generously coat the bottom of a soup pot with the oil of your choosing. Heat over a medium flame. Add the chopped spring onion and green garlic and cook for several minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
Add the chopped fennel along with some or all of their tops (also chopped) and chopped carrots, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently. Add a glass or two of wine, (depending on how much you want later to drink!) and let it bubble away for a few minutes. While the wine is reducing, cook the mushrooms.
In a skillet large enough to accommodate the mushrooms no more than 2-deep, heat some olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the sliced or broken up maitake mushrooms and cook for several minutes, until they begin to take on some color. Stir in the sliced shiitake mushrooms and season with salt. Continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and are nicely browned. If while you are cooking the mushrooms, they look dry, add some more oil to the pan. Add the cooked mushrooms to the soup pot, then add some broth to the mushroom sauté pan. Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the broth to the soup pot.
Add enough broth to the soup pot to make soup. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the chopped dandelion greens. Add the peas – if they are shelling peas, shell them and add them, if they are sugar snaps, zip them of their strings then slice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Adjust the soup’s seasonings with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
As you read through the recipe, you will see that all I did was add the ingredients to the pot according to their density (how much time they desired to cook). Onions and garlic usually go first, followed by carrots, celery if using, or other celery-dense ingredients (fennel), delicate green vegetables last. Mushrooms benefit from being sautéed separately to develop their flavor. You could add various herbs, such as thyme or marjoram or parsley, or chile flake, or garnish the soup with grated Parmesan cheese. This is a basic minestrone-type soup that can change with the seasons, according to what is in season.