April 30, 2012

Morels!

The Ugliest Ingredients
 the Prize of Spring!


Why is it that the ugliest mushrooms -- moreles -- are the most lovely and the most elusive of all? They don't appear until the "lilacs are the size of a mouse's ears" and then only after a light spring rain. A few days ago, I hunted them in the early morning hours, the ground was damp and the chill deadened my fingers and toes. They hid in decaying leaves, under crumbling tree stumps. I found one, then two then a great cluster, coned heads poking up through the detritus. Like those lost keys, you can't find morels in a determined "search," but only when you don't look too hard, just observe and let go. OK, there is a zen lesson in the hunt. Experience and knowledge of the woods helps. But like just about everything I've ever searched for -- love, laughter, friendship, the right word -- the morels I was after were right at my feet. 

We filled a few paper bags with fat, fragrant morels that filled the car with the scent of spring morning and woods. I can't tell were we were, honestly, for the friend who drove me made me close my eyes when we got close. 

Morels need a good soak in salt water to remove the grit and any bugs. Slit them and let them dry well on towels. Then don't do much. Slice them and saute in plenty of good butter until they're nicely browned. Serve them on crostini or toast. Deglaze the pan with a little wine and toss what's left with pasta or just sop up the juices with good bread.

You can store morels in brown paper bags in a cool dark place. Do not refrigerate, the moisture causes them to fall apart. Eat them as soon as you can, they don't last longer than a few days.




April 10, 2012

Fresh Start

Too Many Eggs in One Basket?
Sauce Gribiche


Too many eggs in one basket? Easter's over, the chocolate is gone, and we're left with hard boiled eggs. There's egg salad, of course, and deviled eggs. There's also gribiche.

Brilliant in its simplicity, this sauce is classic French. An emulsion of cooked egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and oil, it's like a mayonnaise, but with more punch. Traditionally sauce gribiche is served over "tete de veau"(boiled veal head) but, let's not go there. Try it on steamed broccoli or asparagus, tossed with roasted baby potatoes, use it as a dip for raw veggies, spoon it over grilled chicken breast instead.

Potatoes and Broccoli with Sauce Gribiche
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound new potatoes (Yukon gold or baby reds)
3/4 cup sunflower oil
Sea salt
1 pound broccoli, broken into florets
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and yolks and whites separated
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoos chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the potatoes into 2-inch pieces. Turn the potatoes and broccoli into a large bowl and toss with just enough oil to lightly coat. Spread out on a baking sheet so that none of the pieces touch. Roast until the potatoes and broccoli are tender and lightly browed. 

In separate bowl, smash the egg yolks. Whisk in the cider vinegar, mustard, shallot and herbs to make a paste. Whisk in the oil, slowly, to make a thick sauce. 

Turn the roasted vegetables into a large bowl and toss with enough of the sauce to lightly coat. Chop the egg whites and scatter over the vegetables before serving warm or at room temperature.