21 May 2008

essential ingredients: fungus and yeast

When was the last time that you tasted food so amazingly delicious, it actually made you smile? Or even giggle? I, for one, cannot remember the last time that happened to me. Before last night, that is. Okay, rewind. Before I moved to Minnesota, I'm pretty sure I had never heard of morels. Last spring, must have been around this time, Jared spotted some at our local coop and suggested that we get some. I was a little intimated (by the price, but also by the thought of cooking some "foodie" fancy wild mushroom), and said we could pick some up on the next trip. Well, lo and behold, by the next trip to the coop, they were already gone.

So on Monday, when we spotted some at the coop, we snatched them up right away. Choosing carefully and pretending to ignore the pricetag (all I can say is that I'm glad mushrooms don't weigh much). The very next day, I spotted this photo by the lovely Molly and enlisted some morel cooking advice. I'd read that they don't need much, just a simple sautee and would be just perfect on some nice toast (I'll get to that bit in a minute). Molly directed me to this post of hers that she wrote last year. I don't know if I can describe the feeling of eating morels much better than she did, so I'll just let you read her words for yourself.

In the meantime, prior to spotting the morels at the coop on Monday, we had a little trip to our local bookstore (I had taken the day off, in case you're wondering who the heck has time for leisurely bookstore and coop trips on a Monday) where I picked up this book that I've been coveting for months. I don't feel that a full review is necessary here, I'm sure most of you have read one by now (perhaps this one, or this one), so I'll just say a few words. Keep in mind, I've only tried the first recipe so far. Basically this book gives you some basic bread recipes that are SUPER simple (read: mix some ingredients together in a container, no kneading required, let it rise for about two hours, stick it in the fridge, done). Once you've got your dough in the fridge, you've got enough for about four loaves of bread. Then, when you're ready to bake some, you cut off a hunk of dough, shape it (still no kneading), maybe add some other ingredients if you want to go the fancy route, let it rest, then bake it. All while you're making the rest of your dinner/breakfast/lunch/dawdling on flickr.

Seriously people, I thought I had breadmaking down (well, kind of at least) and this is incredible. Mostly the part about keeping dough in the fridge. I have to say that as yummy as all the recipes look, I don't know that the recipes themselves are all that revolutionary. But being able to make fresh bread during the week, and not worrying about not having enough time or ending up staying up way past my bedtime because it's taking longer to rise, it's a pretty awesome thing. This is big people. Very big.

Okay, so back to the meal at hand here. I sliced up some morels, sauteed them in about a tablespoon of margarine, and spread them on some plain toast. And I almost died. In her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver quotes Alice Waters as writing "With their woodsy, earthy, complex flavors and aromas, and their rich, primeval colors and forms [wild mushrooms bring to our kitchens] a reminder that all the places we inhabit were once wildernesses."

All I can say is that I'm seriously crossing my fingers that there are more at the farmers market this weekend.


  1. oh my goodness morels are the yummyest! I haven't had them for years, but when I was a kid (living in the country) we used to walk through the woods in the spring and collect them. They were always my favorite mushroom!

  2. Oh my... that sounds delicious! I bought 4 morels the other day (didn't want to break the bank!). I'm excited to go home and eat them tonight!

    Hope your having a great week... you should come have breakfast on the back porch soon... :-)

  3. I can't believe I had forgotten what they were. they're deliciously ugly, and delicious.