Springtime in Appalachia with Morel Mushrooms, Part 2: Cooking. ~ Jenny Roth

Via on May 26, 2011

Check out Part 1: Foraging

Freezing

Slice morels in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly. Let air dry before placing in freezer bags.

In the south, it is popular to deep fry morels. If this is the method you prefer, it is best to preserve the morels by slicing and rinsing, soaking in an egg/milk mixture then last dredging in flour. At this point you can freeze them or you can par fry them then cool then freeze.

Dehydrating morels is my favorite method. I have a small electric food dehydrator but there are many methods used to dry them. I dry the morels in the electric dehydrator for 12 hours. Sometimes I lay them out (unclean) on a screen in the sun for 8 hours or so. You can dehydrate in a warm oven or in even the back window of a hot car!

When reconstituting the morels, simply pour boiling water over them and let soak for 30 minutes. They will have a softer consistency than frozen but they are flavorful just as well.

Cooking with Morels

Since these wild little delectables are hollow inside, it is possible for bugs to get in, a millipede being my favorite find! Many sources suggest soaking the mushroom in salted water for 20 minutes, but I have never used this method. My suggestion is to slice them in half lengthwise, discard stem and then soak in plain water for just a minute or two if you must before rinsing thoroughly under a light stream of running water. Mushrooms are so delicate and absorbant and I have always felt like soaking them in salt water or soaking them at all takes away from the rich flavor and firm texture of the mushroom.

Recipe: Red Pepper, Asparagus & Morel Quiche

Vegetable Filling:

    • 10 or so asparagus spears, cut into ½” pieces
    • 2 small shallots, sliced thin
    • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced small
    • ½ Tbs. extra- virgin olive oil and a small slice of butter
    • 5-7 small to medium morel mushrooms, sliced in half & rinsed thoroughly, then sliced into small pieces
    • ¾ cup Havarti cheese, shredded
    • 2 deep dish frozen (or handmade) pie crusts

    Egg Mixture:

    • 8 large eggs
    • 2 cups milk
    • 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. mustard powder
    • A little fresh ground pepper
    • Smoked paprika or plain paprika (smoked paprika is an excellent accompaniment to any vegetarian quiche)

      Start a medium pot of boiling water to blanch asparagus. Slice morels lengthwise and soak in water for a few minutes to chase out any bugs! Rinse thoroughly then dice. Heat olive oil & butter on medium low heat in small sauté skillet and cook bell pepper, shallot & mushrooms for 5-7 minutes. Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 3-4 mins. Let veggies cool.

      Meanwhile, prepare egg mixture by placing eggs, milk, flour, mustard powder & black pepper in the blender and mix for 15 seconds, give or take a few.

      Divide the cheese on the bottom the the pie shells. Same with veggies. Pour Egg mixture over the top and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 375* for 45 minutes to an hour. Check to make sure the center is set.

      This recipe makes 2 large quiche. It reheats wonderfully in the microwave and keeps for several days. You can easily divide recipe in half.

      Serving suggestions: Serve with slices of fresh tomato and crisp cucumber drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic and salt & pepper or a small side salad with a light vinaigrette. Top with pico de gallo or salsa.

      Use different combos like shredded zucchini & portabello mushrooms or small diced red pepper, onion and cheddar cheese, zucchini, sun-dried tomato & morel mushroom with asiago cheese.

      _____________________________________________________________________________

      Jenny Roth took Agriculture/Horticulture as a young lady and decided to take a non-traditional path of learning, seeking out teachers without formal educations in the areas of foraging, organic gardening, soapmaking, cooking, herbal medicine, and other traditional ways. Paying attention to everyone, especially elders, woodsmen, hippies, country dwellers, mountain folks, gardeners, this path in life has connected her to wonderful people of all types. She and her husband are students of the honorable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche of Padma Samye Ling Monastery in upstate New York and the main caretakers of Padma Gochen Ling Buddhist retreat center and temple in the foothills of Tennessee.

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