Monthly Archives: March 2010

Barbecue Pulled Pork

I’m a barbecue fanatic. Kruegers are looked down on in my family for not asking for barbecue sauce with fries at a restaurant. There are 3 different brands in my fridge rightthisveryminute. I’m SERIOUS about barbecue. And luckily, there are others who share my obsession enthusiasm.

See, there are these guys in Bloomington called, affectionately, the Ribs Guys. More accurately, they are called Ribs Guys! because people are generally excited when they see them. The proprietors of a restaurant called Smokin’ Jack’s Barbecue have a stand at all the home football games (17th and Dunn!) and a handful of random Fridays and Saturdays where they sell ribs, smoked sausages, pulled pork sandwiches at great prices. You get the same foods they sell at the restaurant for in-the-parking-lot-of-a-convenience-store prices. NOTHING could be better. Meredith and I have a system where we call or text (in capital letters, obvs) to let each other know when the Ribs Guys! are at their post. Then we eat barbecue sauce-slathered ribs before we go to fancy military events. Because we’re normal.

The problem of course, is that it’s now basketball season and the Ribs Guys! don’t hang out at the food mart when it’s cold out. So I get a hankering for their food at inopportune times and figure out ways to make a version myself. Take this pulled pork for instance: take a cut of pork, some sauce and liquid smoke, a crock pot, and a wheat bun and you, Sir, have some heaven on a plate there. And it couldn’t be easier.

Ingredients:

1 pork roast or pork butt
salt and pepper to cover
1 Tbsp liquid smoke (or mesquite liquid smoke)
1 Tbsp teriyake sauce (opt)
about 1 C barbecue sauce (or a mixture of multiple brands)

As I said, I like to use different sauces for different foods so I assemble an assortment. You can use any brand or type of sauce you like. (I also really like Tony Roma’s Carolina Honey sauce but I’m out of it at the moment.) This time I mixed Sweet Baby Ray’s (a classic) and Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse with a little mesquite liquid smoke and teriyaki sauce. They combine to form a complex and smokey flavor.

Don’t I sort of sound like I’m talking about wine? Just substitute some words there and I’m a sommelier. For real.

This is so easy. It’s barely a recipe. You can use pork shoulder, pork butt or a lean pork loin like I used here. Rinse it if you want and apply salt and pepper over all sides. Pour the liquid smoke and teriyaki sauce in the slow-cooker. Add the barbecue sauce(s) and stir well. Turn the heat to high* and add the pork.

Brush the top of the meat with a silicon brush. I really hate using natural hair or wooden-handled brushes for this since, hi, it’s raw pork and that creeps me out. Slosh barbecue sauce all over the top and cook for about 5 hours.

*If you have more time, reduce heat to low or medium and increase cooking time. I only had 5 hours this time so that’s what I did but roasts taste even better the longer they are cooked.

Oh hello.

See how tender and succulent this is? It falls apart. Use two forks to shred the pork and separate everything into consistently-sized strips. And it really is tender enough for this. The only reason for a knife is to cut the long strips in half so you don’t end up with long dangley pieces.

When you’re finished, spoon all the sauce into a bowl and set aside. Dump all the pork into the slow cooker (set to warm or very low) and pour on the sauce. Depending on the size of your cut of meat, you might need more or less. You might also want less sauce on your pork. It’s all a matter of taste. So spoon or pour on a little at a time before stirring and testing to see if you need to add more. I used all my sauce (<-surprise) (<-sarcasm).

This will stay hot for hours if you are at a party or pot luck. In fact, I kind of can’t wait to make this for a pot luck or superbowl party. Everyone will love you when you make it! Serve on a wheat bun or roll and top with a little extra barbecue sauce if you want.

I won’t judge you. In fact, it will make me want to be your friend.

Salted Butter Caramel & White Chocolate Matzo

Because I’m totally Jewish and this is an appropriate recipe for me to obsess over? Last April when Deb (of the smitten kitchen) posted her recipe for chocolate caramel crack(ers)–that is, crackers that are crackly and addictive like crack–I made them immediately. Being a gentile and all, this was my first experience with matzo and I was hoooked. I didn’t even look to see if matzo was reserved for certain days or if there was a specific thing you were supposed to eat them with. I just unabashedly munched. Matzo is sort of like a saltine cracker with a way better texture. I, like Deb apparently, love to eat the cuisines of other religions. Last year I fasted for the last day of Ramadan and went to a big dinner at school that was catered by all the Middle Eastern restaurants in town. Other than almost passing out from not eating (I have low blood pressure and sugar…and according to Chad I get SUPER cranky when I don’t eat), the whole day was great. I got to eat lots of yummy foods and hear a lot of great speakers and highly-regarded professors speak and pray. It was a cool experience. So I take every opportunity to eat foods from other cultures and religions. Deb’s chocolate caramel crackers are yummy and, yes, addictive. I wanted to make something yummy for the passover season (again because I’m Jewish?) so I made her crackers but with a couple changes.

I was intrigued by David Lebovitz’ description of the white chocolate/caramel flavor combination. So I whipped up some of his salted butter caramel to cover the matzo and microwaved (<–lazy!) some white baking chocolate to pipe over the top. This is easy, delicious, and uhhhhdictive.

Total delicious concept adapted from smittenkitchen who adapted it from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Marcy Goldman. Salted butter caramel adapted from David Lebovitz who is just kind of my favorite person sometimes:

4-6 matzo crackers (I used whole white here just for kicks but it’s better with the regular kind)
3/4 C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher (<-logic!) salt
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 C sugar
4 Tbsp salted butter (or unsalted butter with salt added)
3 squares of white baker’s chocolate
candy thermometer

Arrange matzo crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Try to break them so that they completely cover the surface of the sheet.

Heat the cream, vanilla, 2 Tbsp of the butter, and half of the salt in a little saucepan. Keep barely warm. In a separate saucepan (use your copper pots if you have them! they’re best for caramel-makin’) fitted with a candy thermometer melt the sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat. Stir slightly to avoid hot spots using a spatula or wooden spoon–the most important thing is that it is heat resistant to high heat. Mine is from a restaurant supply store and it’s heat resistant to 600° or something ridiculous like that but I’ve heard good things about le creuset spatulas. Sugar gets HOT so be careful. David Lebovitz has a great caramel-making tip sheet. Heat the sugar to 310° and remove saucepan from heat. I place the whole pot on a trivet next to the stove. Add the cream mixture slowly while stirring constantly. Keeeeeeep stirring until it is all incorporated. You might have big hunks of melted sugar syrup at first but don’t worry, they’ll mix in. Return the pot to the stove and heat to 260°. Remove from heat and add the last two Tbsp of butter and the second 1/2 tsp of salt.

Pour over the crackers and smooth over the tops with the spatula. Work quickly as the caramel will set up really quickly. After spreading the caramel all over the crackers, heat the white chocolate in a dish in the microwave or in a double boiler. Pour into a bag or a piping bag. Cut the tip off of the bag and pipe over the top of the caramel.

Let them cool completely before breaking or cutting into squares. Eat furiously and commence your conversion to Judaism.

Cloth Napkin Tutorial

I hate using paper napkins. I feel wasteful and they don’t hold up well when even a portion of one is used. Yet I never had fabric napkins for everyday. It’s jut not a part of culture in America where we see cloth napkins as reserved for nice restaurants and holiday dinners at home. So I was really fascinated by David Lebovitz’ blog post about the French attitude on cloth napkins. After that I kept my eye out for napkins and found, unsurprisingly, that cloth napkins are expensive. This of course inspired me to make some since they are fabric after all.

I realized while at Shiisa that I would end up making many, many more sets of these. I used regular quilting cotton for these but they are beautiful in linen or a heavier cotton too. One thing to look for is a fabric with a muted or attractive reverse since the backside will be visible. It would be awesome to use reversible fabric too.

For 6 napkins you will need:
1/2 yd fabric (or more if your pattern is tricky)
matching or coordinating thread
fabric shears
fabric pins
sewing machine (no fancy stitches are needed though…even old-timers like mine work for this!)
measuring mat or other like device

Step 1: Cut the fabric into 12-14″ squares. I measured at 12″ and got smallish napkins. The napkins are about 1″ shorter in each direction due to the seams. Do your best to follow the direction of the pattern. I had a stripe to deal with so I was careful to make sure it didn’t go wobbly or seamed on a diagonal. Decide which will be the top of the napkin.

Step 2: Fold in 1/4″ from what will be the top and bottom of the napkins. Pinning is exceedingly important in this project. Pin carefully and make sure the seam is 1/4″ all the way across.

Step 3: Fold those seams over on themselves snugly. Measure again (for good measure-ha!) to make sure the folded seam is also 1/4″.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the sides of the napkin, carefully folding up the pinned top and bottom seams.

Now take a break and eat some raspberry Kookaburra licorice.

Step 5: Sew using coordinating or matching thread. I sewed with the seam to the left of the needle and used the presser foot as my guide. Round the corners squarely by lifting the presser foot, turning the fabric, and lowering the presser foot.

Trim the loose threads and you’re done!…with one napkin. Let’s not joke ourselves and pretend this won’t be tedious project. But if you’re a sewer, you’re probably used to it. If you’re not a sewer, this is a good, simple project to wet your feet.

See how nice the corners look? The napkins are small and perfect for everyday use. For fancy holiday parties it might be best to make BIG napkins because that’s what people are used to. But I don’t see the point in a giant lap tarp for regular dinners and lunches. That means these are quick to whip up too…I made these in one afternoon.

Make some napkins for your house! It will make every meal feel more special which a lot of people say is helpful in losing weight. If you treat eating meals as a positive thing it gives you a good outlook on food. Looking at food as the enemy, the menacing thing that makes you fat, isn’t healthy.

Was that me on a  soapbox? I’ll be done now. Go sew!

Graham Crackers and Pepe’s Key Lime Pie

I’m going to take a minute to talk about my boss here at the hotel. Her name is Brandi and she’s awesome. I could list the reasons but it makes me sound like a suck-up and that’s not what we’re going for here. Suffice it to say that she loves her employees and does nice things for us in addition to being fun to work for. Every year she hosts a party at her house in May for the graduates (but everyone is invited). Last year I wanted to make something Brandi would like since she was inviting us all over and with the help of my fellow sleuth Meagan I made this pie. Brandi talks about going to the Key West all the time and she loves this restaurant Pepe’s. Meagan found their website and the recipe for Brandi’s favorite key lime pie. What kind of crazy restaurant lists their recipes on their website? Answer: The best kind.

Key limes were $2 at the grocery store so I grabbed a bag and made some graham crackers. This pie, like most key lime pies, calls for a graham cracker crust and rather than buy one premade or use store-bought graham crackers, I made a batch of Nancy Silverton’s grahams. I’d made them before when I saw them on smitten kitchen, but now that I had her book I got inspired to make them again. They are sooo delicious. They’re not exactly like a cracker or the dry, sawdusty grahams I passed up during my childhood. If I had known about these when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have made my s’mores with just chocolate and marshmallows. It was really messy.

Graham Crackers adapted from Nancy Silverton:

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C brown sugar (She says use dark, I only had light. The world didn’t end.)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 C butter, cubed and frozen
5 Tbsp milk (She says use whole milk, I used 2% and nothing exploded.)
2 Tbsp vanilla
5 Tbsp honey (clover works best)

(cinnamon sugar topping optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. You have three options for the next step: either use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter, use your fingers to smush the butter into the flour mixture, or incorporate the butter using a food processor. I have a really small food processor so I did this in batches but I’ve used just my hands before. Whisk together the milk, vanilla, and honey (it will be super gloopy–don’t worry) and stir that into the rest of the ingredients. It won’t look like dough at all. Have faith! Use your hands to clump and knead it together and dump the dough onto a floured surface. (I usually keep a cup of flour on my work surface.) Knead it and roll it out to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thickness. You can cut them into squares with a knife or use a cookie or biscuit cutter. I use a set of pretty, scalloped circular cutters that my mom gave me. You also have the choice of topping the cookies with cinnamon sugar or pricking them with a toothpick in a pretty pattern. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Let the cookies cool completely and crumble them into your food processor or a zip-top bag (I used food processor and I didn’t even wash it out between mixing the graham ingredients and the graham crumbs. It’s the same stuff and no eggs! Slacker-friendly!). Process/crush until the grahams are a medium consistency. Don’t let them get too fine. Now you’re ready to make the crust.

Key Lime Pie adapted from Pepe’s in Key West, Florida:

1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C melted butter

2 eggs, divided (the original recipe calls for 2 more yolks but this works really well too)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C key lime juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)

If it looks like there’s a lot of crust mixture going on, it’s because I made a double batch and froze half for later. That definitely wasn’t because I read the recipe wrong and added too much butter, forcing me to make  a double batch so I wouldn’t have to throw anything out. (Yes it was)

Preheat the oven to 325 (or just open the oven door for a minute and lower the temp from 350 to 325). Stir together graham crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Press into a pie dish and bake for 10 minutes. No need for pie weights, y’all.

While that’s baking, juice the key limes and set aside. (You can also do this while the graham crackers are baking) One bag of key limes gave me pretty much exactly 1 cup of juice. Get an extra regular lime if you think you’ll need it.

At this point, the crust needs to cool. Keep the oven at 325. While it’s cooling, beat the egg whites and set aside. In a separate bowl beat the yolks for a minute and then add the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Try not to splash the lime juice all over yourself. Ahem. Fold in the egg whites and the pour the whole mixture into the crust. Bake for 20 minutes at 325. Let cool completely before refrigerating at least 2 hours. Best served really, really cold with whipped cream.

See that big indentation in the filling on the right side of the pie? That’s where Chad stuck his finger in the pie. He might have been in trouble for that one.

This pie is soooo delicious and creamy. If I hadn’t been chomping at the bit to make a scarf, I would have probably made fresh whipped cream. Instead, I fell back on the can of aerosol whipped cream. (Fun fact: Did you know that Reddi Wip is spelled like that–with no ‘h?’ How does that make sense? And you can’t make Stewie jokes without the hhhhh-wip)

H or no H, this pie is yummy and refreshing. The crust is great with store-bought graham crackers, but even better with homemade. That’s no offense to Pepe’s since I have never even had one of their pies, but this was a definite improvement on the first time I made it. Make this for your Memorial Day celebrations. And enjoy the extra graham crackers.

Wine Steamed Mussels with Crispy Bacon

Sometimes, for no good reason at all, I like to make slightly fancy dinners. Excuses range from “this was on sale in the meat department” to “I have a few hours free and this sounds fun to make.” The first time I made mussels, Chad came home to find a big dinner on the table and candles lit and he momentarily freaked thinking that he had forgotten our anniversary. But really I just realized that day that mussels are cheap. Seriously. At our grocery store mussels are 2 lbs for $5 and after doing some research I learned that they are often sustainably raised. And somehow I always thought of them, as I often do with seafood, as expensive and fussy and difficult to make. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mussels are fast to make, hard to mess up, and really tasty. If you don’t eat pork or like bacon, forget about it. The mussels will still be yummy. Just add a pinch of salt to the wine to replace the saltiness of the bacon.

When buying mussels, make sure they are fresh and that your fishmonger doesn’t creep you out. Paranoid? Probably…but it’s fish! They should give you a mesh bag or a bag with holes since the mussels need to breathe. When you get them home, keep them in the fridge in a bowl with no water for up to 3 days. Water is the enemy here (as strange as that sounds). Keep them cold until you’re ready to use them.

2 lb mussels (or less since the two of us couldn’t finish this)
3 strips of bacon
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 C white wine (I used a Gewurztraminer)
pinch of saffron (this can be omitted but it tastes awesome)

Fry up the bacon in a dutch oven (or stock pot if you don’t have a dutch oven) until the bacon is crispy. Even if you don’t like your bacon crispy, it’s a must in this dish. Remove to a folded paper towel and pat dry.

While that’s going, rinse the mussels in cold water and toss out any that aren’t fully closed. If one is slightly opened, tap it on a hard surface and watch to see if it closes. If one is broken at all, it’s a no-go too. You don’t want bad mussels. Fo real.

For our 2 lb bag, we had 9 or so rejects. I made the horrible mistake of throwing these in the kitchen trash can and the next day I was severely punished. Use a separate bag. It’s the right thing to do.

Sauté some garlic and some onions or shallots if you feel so inclined) in the fat left from the bacon. If you’re not using bacon, just sauté in olive oil. After a couple minutes, add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Scrape up all those brown bits and cook the alcohol off. Sprinkle in the saffron and stir. Now sniff. It smells good, right?

Make sure the heat is at medium-high and dump in all the mussels. Immediately put the lid on and let them steam, undisturbed, for 15 minutes–just long enough for you to finish up some side dishes, toast some crusty bread, and break up all that bacon for the topping. When the 15 minutes are up, turn off the heat and pour the mussels and allllllll the sauce in a bowl. Or leave in the dutch oven if you are out of clean bowls. Top with bacon. Eat.

This is sooooo good. Chad had never had mussels before this and it was fun showing him how to use an empty shell to pinch like claws and get the meat from another. It’s fun and sort of like playing castanets! I especially love breaking off pieces of bread and dipping in the sauce in the bottom of the pot. I might love that sauce more than the mussels themselves.

Yet we couldn’t finish the whole pot. There were just too many! The fishmonger at the grocery store was new and didn’t know if he could open a 2 lb bag so he could give me just half (he can but I didn’t want to make him feel like he was going to get in trouble). So this whole thing can be done with fewer mussels and the same quantities of everything else. Figure 1/2 lb – 1 lb per person (depending how hungry you are).

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk Plus Homemade Stock

Don’t run away yet. This dish is insanely good in spite of its weirder than weird ingredients. If you don’t believe me, go check with the other foodbloggers. I’m certainly not the first to talk about Jamie’s brilliance with odd ingredients.

In fact, I remember watching the Naked Chef and just loving Jamie and his oddball expressions. He’s the one who first introduced me to the vodka in a watermelon trick! Now he’s a spokesperson for eating healthy and responsibly. His recipes focus on homegrown and ethically sourced ingredients (which I don’t always have access to–hey I’m on a small food budget that I spend too much of on treats to share with co-workers and friends) and the recipes are as delicious as ever.

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s site (recipe first found on thekitchn)

1 whole fryer chicken with insides removed
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
olive oil
1/2 cinnamon stick
handful of fresh sage
2 lemons
10 cloves garlic
2 C milk

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. I hate to say this all the time, but really a dutch oven is better than a large stockpot or anything else for this dish. My dutch oven is indispensable to me. And you can get one for a pretty decent price. Wash the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and place in the dutch oven. It should sizzle and crack–that means the skin is browning! By the way, I always always use Kosher salt for cooking but this especially is a reason to use it. Kosher salt is rough and jagged and sticks to food better than iodized table salt which is rounded and falls off.

While the chicken is browning, zest both lemons and tear the leaves off of the sage. Jamie also says to leave the skins on the garlic cloves but I took them off 1. for fear that they would get lost in the sauce and I’d eat one and 2. because I figured I could smash one of the cloves on some bread.

When the first side is browned, turn the chicken over to brown the other side. Don’t worry, the chicken will cook through when you put it in the oven. When the second side is browned, remove the chicken to a plastic cutting board (using raw meat on wooden cutting boards freaks me out). Put the milk, zest, garlic and sage leaves in the pot and stir well. Place the cut lemons (with seeds removed) and the cinnamon stick in the cavity of the chicken. Jamie doesn’t do this either but I’m always a fan of aromatics inside chickens and turkeys. Place the chicken back in the pot and bring the milk sauce to a simmer.

At this point I looked at the contents of the dutch oven and thought to myself This can’t possibly end well! Look at this gunk! But Jamie proved me wrong and taught me never to question a Naked man because clearly if he’s bold enough to be Naked, he’s right about something.

Place the lid on the pot and the pot in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the lid off and baste the chicken with the sauce. There are so many clumps in the sauce that it’s a good idea to just use a spoon instead of a baster. Keep the chicken in the oven for another hour, basting occasionally. When the time is up, remove the chicken and test the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted to the thickest part of the meat. The temp should read 165 or higher. Cook longer if need be.

The chicken is so succulent and moist and the lemon, sage, and cinnamon somehow complement each other so well. Everything just works in this dish. I like to cut off some meat (I prefer white to dark) and spoon on some of the thin, lemony milk. The sauce is also great on creamy mashed potatoes and I imagine it would be great on broccoli too. There’s an entire dinner idea for ya. Boil potatoes, mash with butter, salt, pepper and cream, microwave frozen broccoli and make this chicken. Easy, delicious, and budget-friendly. This is perfect for a busy weeknight or any night when you have lots of homework.

If Ina Garten makes anything that isn’t a lemon tart, it is pretty much inevitable that she will use chicken stock and tell you that you can use store-bought chicken stock but it’s really best to use homemade. Every. Time. And use good olive oil, good vanilla, and her overpriced boxed mixes. From what I can tell, these are the credos of the Barefoot Contessa. I can agree on the vanilla (why not make your own!), the olive oil for dipping (inexpensive is fine for other stuff), and the chicken stock. Homemade chicken stock is cheaper, more flavorful, and allows you to control the amount of sodium which is important since you can control the sodium in dish you use the stock in. Big deal. So when you’re done with the chicken, toss the bones and tough parts in a pot with some water, leftover vegetables, and whatever leftover herbs you’ve accumulated and stored in the freezer. I use store-bought fresh herbs in the winter and I can never use them before they go bad. So a few days before they get gross, I stick them in the freezer in a little bag. Whenever I have extra vegetable pieces I add those too. This can also be done with just bones–beef, veal, etc or just vegetables. So in this batch of stock I used the bones and attached meat of the chicken, lots of water, a cut up carrot, asparagus ends (remember those?), sage, basil, and chives. Just boil this for a while, then cover, reduce the heat and ignore for a while longer. It freezes or stays in the fridge for a few days. You can also label plastic bags with measurements and spoon cupfuls of broth in before freezing. Quick, easy, and smart storage.

Update 4/12/10

Michael Ruhlman gives a great set of instructions (and reasons for using) for stock. So does Thomas Keller and co. in his French Laundry cookbook. It’s worth checking out at the library for the best instructions for complicated, takes-a-few-days stock. Carol of French Laundry at Home and Alinea at Home fame goes through the French Laundry process and the Alinea process because she is clearly a rockstar. But like Michael says, the most important thing is to make your own stock…however you do it. He even prefers water to bought stock. (Shocking!)

Creamy Morel Mushroom Toasts

Before I tell you how to make this decadent appetizer, I have to tell you a story. I can’t stand onions. I don’t hate them as much as cilantro or bell peppers, but I’m not a fan. I typically replace them with shallots whenever possible because they’re milder and sweeter. So I buy a lot of shallots and I go through them quickly. On my latest trip to the big, crazy grocery store far away, I went to the spot where they regularly keep shallots and found morel mushrooms in their place. Because it’s morel mushroom season! Shroomers are going nuts right now but I wasn’t in the market for morels and I was let down about the shallots. I looked all over and finally asked a sweet produce lady where I could find them. She searched around and finally went to the back room to ask. When she returned she told me they were out of stock since they had to make room for the morels. I must have looked really disappointed because she told me that if I wanted, she could give me half off of the morels. What?! Half-off morels? They are, in all the seriousness I can muster, $49.99 per pound. I didn’t want to look like I was taking advantage of her unnecessary and unrequested discount so I only bought a few. But honestly, discounted fresh morels are a big deal and I had never even had them (did you read the part where they are $49.99/pound?) so I looked for a recipe that would feature them and celebrate their expensive awesomeness.

I came across a recipe on epicurious (<3 everything epicurious) for Morels in Cream on Brioche. I didn’t have brioche or intend on making some since I already had some pane bello for the mussels I was making for dinner. I figured pane bello would work just as well and it did.

This recipe is simple and scrumptious. Adapted from Epicurious:

4 medium morel mushrooms
3/4 C heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp white truffle oil (if you don’t have this, use truffle salt or omit entirely)
1 Tbsp flour
sprinkle ground pepper
2 slices thick bread, toasted
1/2 C grated gruyère cheese

Heat up the cream in a small saucepan or a cup in the microwave until just warmed through. Meanwhile heat the butter in a separate saucepan. Add the butter and whisk to combine. Chop the morels into pea-size pieces (a rough chop is fine) and after a minute or so, add them to the saucepan. After they have sautéed for a few minutes, add the warm cream and continue whisking. Let the mixture cook on very low heat for 15 minutes and stir occasionally. Meanwhile, toast the bread. When they are nearly done toasting, add the grated gruyère so that it melts. You can do this in the oven or a toaster oven. When the mushroom sauce is done, turn the heat off and add the truffle oil (if not using truffle oil, add the truffle salt after the mixture is on the toasts) and spoon the mixture onto the toasts.

Oh my goodness. This is so delicious. I think, though I’m not an expert on morels, that this is a great way to feature them and appreciate them. You really taste the nutty flavor and the gruyère compliments the whole experience. I almost omitted the cheese entirely for fear it would overpower the taste of the mushrooms, but it really worked. If you mushroom lovers can spare a few dollars on these, it only takes a few to make this dish and it’s completely worth it.