Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Morels, The i-Shroom

There are some things I just don't get. For example, I don't get "i" anything. The Crabby family has owned more than 6 i-pods, and at one time or another all have failed. If that weren't bad enough, when they are working, they all have a seemingly lousy battery life.

One of the CrabCakes owns an i-laptop; a few months ago it was overheating on a daily basis. When I took it into one of the inaccurately named i-geniuses, he told me the product overheats when it runs at full specifications. In other words when you use the product to the extent that it's advertised, it stops working. Brilliant.

I really don't get the iPhone. Here's a $300 - $500 phone that's well, a phone. You can send text messages, listen to music, get directions and surf the internet. I can do most of that with my $100 phone and I can do it with any service provider. But, you say, on the iPhone I can watch video. Sure you can, on a 3.5 inch screen!! Plus I just don't get what's so special about being able to watch re-runs of "The Office" or "South Park", hunched over and squinting like some 18th-century scrivener.

Is the thing cool. Sure. Do most owners use even 1/3 of the features. I doubt it. Is it a great product for business users, no doubt. But to my aging eyes, this is a victory of style over substance. The i-people have done a wonderful job at marketing; next up, the "igottahaveit".

Which brings me to morels. Every spring there is this low key frenzy over their appearance. People take to the woods to "hunt" morels, (Hunt?, it's a mushroom!?). There are the obligatory news stories about closely guarded locations and occasional fist fights among foragers. Ensuring the frenzy is the rather mind-boggling price. The i-People have learned one great lesson from the 'shroomers: sell the sizzle, make it scarce and then charge a lot.

They're mushrooms. Interesting to look at, slightly chewy mouth feel with a vaguely earthy taste, but they're just mushrooms.

I was given a few ounces of "free range" morels last weekend. I was very thankful for the gift, mostly because I didn't have to spend $30 to buy them. So here's a recipe that's a wonderful tribute to spring, regardless of which type of mushrooms you use.

This is a recipe I received and adapted from a friend who happens to be a great chef. Richie Barron is part owner and head chef of IlCappriccio in Waltham, MA. (781.894.2234). Richie, along with co-owner and sommelier Jeannie Rogers, consistently provide a spectacular Northern Italian inspired dining experience. Richie gave me this recipe a few years ago, I've forgotten part of it, so this is my adaptation of what I can remember.

Asparagus & Morels with Pecorino
By Crabby, inspired by Richie Barron, Head Chef, Il Capriccio

1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus
1 TBSP Olive Oil
4 ounces Fresh Morel Mushrooms
2 TBSP Butter
Pecorino Romano Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Morels, even fresh picked ones are often sold dried. If dried, cover the morels with luke warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt. They should be reconstituted within 30 minutes. Rinse the morels 4 or 5 times in cold water. They are now ready for use.

Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and trim asparagus. Cut off the woody bottoms of the aspargus stalks and, using a vegetable peeler, shave off the tough exterior flesh on the bottom third of each spear. Alternatively, holding each end of the spear, bend in half until it breaks. The top half of the spear will be very tender, discard the bottom portion (this approach yields much less asparagus, but insures only tender spears).

Dry the asparagus and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper the spears. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a cookie sheet of roasting pan. Roast the asparagus for 20 minutes turning the spears every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

While the asparagus is cooling wash and chop the morels into small bite size pieces.

Cut the asparagus into thirds, slicing on a bias. The bias cut doesn't change the flavor but does give it a nice look for presentation.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foaming begins to subside add the morels. Saute for 1 minute, tossing once to insure the morels are evenly covered in melted butter. After 1 minute, add the chopped asparagus. Cook for an additional minute.

Divide the asparagus and morels onto serving plates. Then, using a vegetable peeler, shave 1 or 2 pieces of Peccorino Romano cheese over each serving.

Serve and prepare to be amazed at what 3 simple ingredients and a little butter can taste like.

I know morels are expensive, so feel free to substitute crimini or chatarelle mushroom. I enjoy a glass of dry champagne with this first course. But then I pretty much enjoy a glass of champagne with any course.

This is a very easy recipe, I'd encourage all of you to try it.

That's it for now. Here's a tip, if you get a chance to visit Il Capriccio and Richie comes by the table, ask him about the Red Sox or the Patriots, he'll be happy to talk for hours.

Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.


una donna dolce said...

Your morels look delicious! I am a proud owner of said iPhone, and I thought you might be interested to know that I use 90% of its features on a daily basis. It's gotten me out of a bind when I'm lost and lets me check out restaurant menus, store locations and blogs that can't be accessed on a normal phone (yours included)! It was worth every penny! So keep writing and I'll keep reading (on my 3.5 inch screen). said...


Welcome. Crab Nation has room for all kinds of accessors, whether PC, Apple or iPhone, you're welcome here.

I visited your site, and really am intrigued by the Balsamic & Brown Butter Sauce, have you tried it on any other foods? It seems like a natural for chicken.