The flavour of morels varies; it may suggest warm autumn leaves, hazelnuts, or even nutmeg. As with truffle and caviar, tasting is believing.
Flavours of Spring
The morel is a small, conical mushroom crisscrossed with irregular pale brown ridges and has a sponge like appearance. The flavour of morels is nutty and earthy, milder than that of most other wild mushrooms, and their honeycomb crevices and hollows have a great affinity for cream sauce or for stuffing.
Morels are usually between two and four inches long, and range in color from pale cream to almost black. They are often found at farmers markets and specialty stores and through numerous online mail-order sources. Select fresh morels that have a sweet, earthy smell and are firm but not slimy.
Morels appears in the spring when flowers are blooming.
Whether wild or cultivated, mushrooms need circulating air when stored. They are best kept unwashed, in paper bags on a refrigerator shelf. To wash morels, drop them into a bowl of cool water and give them a good swish with your hands, letting any grit fall to the bottom of the bowl, them lifting them out of the water and pat them dry with a cloth.
Dried morels are also available and a good substitute when the season is over. The flavour is generally more intense than the fresh ones. After soaking, strain the flavourful soaking liquid and add it to your dish if possible or use as a broth to make soups.
Morels also grow in forests which have been burned by a forest fire.
Morels can be found under or around many trees such as tulip poplars, ash, hickory, dead or dying elms, cherry, old apple trees, striped maple,and sycamore. All types of morels may also grow in forests which have been burned by a forest fire. Other signs to tell when morels are ready are when the flowering quince, the dogwoods, the violets and the trillium blooms.If you decide to try foraging them for yourself, do so with an experienced guide.
Morels pairs well with asparagus, butter, caraway seeds, cream, garlic, lamb, pepper, shallots, ramps and thyme.
Like all mushrooms, morels contains small amounts of toxins, which are neutralized with thorough cooking.
Considered a tonic to the digestive system by traditional Chinese medicine, morels help resolve mucus and toxins. They are also a good blood and chi tonic. Mushrooms are a rich source of glutamic acid (the natural version of the flavour enhancer msg) and so enhance the flavour of any savory dish. They are high in protein and a good source of vitamin B2 and zinc.
The radish is an annual plant that is grown for its peppery edible root. They originated in Europe and West Asia and were used as food plants and medicine by many early civilizations.
Radishes are entirely edible, although the root is usually the preferred part. Roots can be eaten raw, pickled, or added to stir-fries. Young greens can be added to soups, steamed or stir-fried.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, radish is a cooling food, it support chi circulation, help remove toxins, and dispel excess heat and mucus. They also act on the lung and stomach meridians and are an excellent digestive aid.
Radishes are a good source of ascorbic acid, folic acid, and potassium. They also contains vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.
Radishes and Morels
New Radishes and Morel Salad
Radishes are commonly eaten uncooked. Experience how delicious they are when lightly sautéed. The pungent flavor and cooling nature of the raw radish disappears and the texture becomes soft and moist.
1½ pounds morels (or any wild mushrooms), thickly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or duck fat, divided
Coarse sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 large head of chicory, or mixed greens, torn into small clumps
2 bunches small new red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon raw honey
1 whole garlic clove
3-4 strands of red dulse seaweed, rinsed
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Make the dressing:
1.Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil with lemon juice, garlic and honey in a large bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave the garlic infuse until serving.
2.Place the mushrooms in a large bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons butter or duck fat. Scatter mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Roast until tender, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool.
3.In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoon butter or duck fat, add the radishes and sauté 3 or 4 minutes, or until lightly softened.
4. Remove the garlic from the dressing. Add lettuce, radishes, dulse and mushrooms to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. Adjust salt and pepper.