Fresh Morels – A Welcome Gift (I <3 California)

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It’s the little things in life that matter.  We stopped at a local business yesterday and ended up talking to the owner for quite some time while looking around.  The conversation quickly turned to food (doesn’t it always?!) and we were talking in detail about herbs and the love of cooking.  As we were checking out he stopped and said, “I have a surprise for you!”  He went out back and came back with a beat up cardboard box.  Upon opening the box I saw a pile of morel mushrooms.  He grabbed a few, put them in a bag and said “Welcome to Northern California” as he finished ringing us up.  This small act of kindness has done two things:  1)  Raised my hopes about the inherent good in humanity and 2)  Made a lifetime customer out of me

A few hours later I cooked them up.  Here’s my ridiculously simple recipe:

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • morels
  • sea salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saute pan until nice and hot.  Drop in the morels in a single layer and saute until the juices have been released.  I like a little bit of a golden edge to mine.  Once cooked, place on a plate and sprinkle with sea salt.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a more delicious snack.

Marinated Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches with Roasted Red Pepper and Gorgonzola Spread

This has got to be one of my favorite last-minute recipes to make.  It is so easy and tastes amazing.

Ingredients:

1 large Portobello mushroom per person
1 similar sized Ciabatta roll per person
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3.5 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Tbsp Gorgonzola per person
1/2 Tbsp Butter/Spread per person
Thyme
Salt
Pepper

Step 1: Clean mushroom caps to remove and dirt.  Cut stem so it is flush with the cap.

Step 2:  In a large sealable bag, place the caps, the garlic, 3 Tbsp Olive Oil, 3 Tbsp Balsamic, Thyme, salt and pepper (all seasoning to taste).  Remove air from bag, make sure everything is mixed well.  Let sit at LEAST 1 hour.

Step 3:  Roast the red pepper until skin is blackened.  Place in a bowl, cover tight, and let “steam” until skin can be easily removed.

Step 4:  Combine Gorgonzola and Butter in a small bowl and blend until well mixed and creamy.

Step 5:  Place marinated mushroom caps in a large baking dish and broil (my preferred method), or bake (400F), until flesh gets soft and darkens.  ~15-20 minutes, depending on method.

Step 6:  Meanwhile, cut the roasted pepper into chunks (removing interior bitter white parts and seeds), and process/blend until pureed with 1/2 Tbsp balsamic.

Step 7:  While mushrooms are still cooking, cut Ciabatta in half, and about 5 minutes before the mushrooms are done, put in the oven to toast.

Assembly:  On top piece of toasted Ciabatta, spread a nice amount of the Gorgonzola spread.  Place the mushroom on the bottom piece, gills up.  Put the red pepper sauce on the mushroom, cover with the top piece, and enjoy!

**NOTE**  Have lots of napkins… this is a messy meal, but OH so good.