June 16, 2010

Cooking Mushrooms with Martha

With all of these fancy fungi in the house, it felt necessary to come up with some suitably fancy ways to eat them, so I turned to my go-to girl for fancy foods: Martha Stewart, or just "Martha" around these parts.

The first recipe I tried was her Morel and Asparagus Sandwiches with Poached Egg, which calls for a few of my favorite things: cheese, eggs, and another tasty in-season delicacy--asparagus. I can still remember my first spring in Germany when the asparagus came into season and all the locals went crazy-in-the head for their fresh, local "spargel." As far as I can tell no self-respecting German would ever eat spargel that had been imported. So for the one month in April that it's in season, they gorge themselves on roasted spargel, grilled spargel, spargel soup, spargel omelettes. I vaguely remember them finding a way to work spargel into their deserts. So what could be better than putting the morels and spargel together, right?

Unfortunately, the meal was a bit of a disappointment. Even though I followed the recipe to the letter--complete with homemade chicken stock and homemade wheat bread, thank you very much--the sauce wasn't as creamy as it needed to be, and the flavor of the cheese totally masked the flavor of the morels. Still, a very satisfying Sunday brunch.

Next up was Martha's "Tortellinis with Morels and Chanterelles." This recipe looked so good on the screen that I just had to give it a try even though it was twice as complicated as the first. Now, I had never attempted homemade pasta of any sort before, nor do I have that special pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer that the recipe calls for, but having recently seen Julie and Julia (and being an early fan of "The Julie/Julia Project", I thought I would give it a try, doing the whole recipe by hand--and all after putting in a long day at the office, just like Julie Powell.

Turns out, making pasta is a cinch, so long as you have the hour-and-a-half to devote to it. And kneading and rolling the dough and folding all those tiny tortellinis was surprisingly relaxing after a stressful work day. The finished product even looked exactly as good as the one in the magazine, but, again, the meal was a bit of a letdown. Everything needed more salt, and all that lemon and tarragon totally overpowered the subtle flavors of the mushrooms. And even though the meal took only an hour-and-a-half to prepare, cleaning up my kitchen afterward took two days. Totally not worth it.

Tune in tomorrow for the final instalment of this story that was so long I had to cut it in two. In the meantime, what are your favorite fungal recipes?


Vicky said...

That is my bug bear with all kind of dough based meals.. the cleaning up!!! I even bought a silicone pastry mat that claims to make live easier... it doesn't and it doesn't fit in the dishwasher either!
Hope your next mushroom delicacy doesn't disappoint.x.

Rachel Rev said...

Ooh, your pasta looks so pretty! By the way, I have a pasta maker if you ever want to borrow it.

We did the morel-asparagus combination as well. For Sunday brunch, we had an omelet with a morel-asparagus-shallot filling. I didn't follow any particular recipe, and I thought I put in too few morels. The asparagus definitely dominated.

For dinner, I made a pasta dish: morels, asparagus, and shollots over lingunini in a white wine-tarragon cream sauce. Again, no recipe. And I went light on the sauce, mixing it with the linguini before serving the funghi-veg combination on top. I had a higher concentration of morels this time so the other flavors did not overpower. And when I reheated the leftovers for lunch the next day, the flavor of the morels was even more intense.

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