The Ultimate Mushroom Guide

I’ve wanted a definitive guide to North American mushrooms since last spring. For Chanukah this year, Eric and Samantha gave one to me:

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Mushrooms On Our Minds

Eric and I cannot wait to start foraging for wild mushrooms. We absolutely love it. Foraging turns every hike into a treasure hunt. But until the snow melts and the weather warms up, we are forced to content ourselves with pictures from last year’s hauls and sate our appetites for fungi with store-bought buttons and creminis. Here’s a photo of a few of the Black Trumpet mushrooms we found last summer…

Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Is It Spring Yet?

This is a silly question to ask mid-March in Vermont, when a storm carrying six inches of snow could blow in any time.  Like it did today. But last year we got spoiled with a week of weather bearing temps in the 80s. And so my husband and I console ourselves by saying, “The snow, when it melts, will create nice, moist soil to bring out the morels.”  We simply can’t wait to find morels.

My husband and I found these morels in one of our spots last spring (2012).

My husband and I found these morels in one of our spots last spring (2012).

Stuffed Wild Morels

Eric and I finally made stuffed morels on Sunday. (Technically, I made them, but who’s keeping score?) We ate them as an appetizer, leading up to our fancy dinner of Chicken Français with Couscous and Grilled Asparagus. Eric manned the grill while I cooked the chicken and couscous.

My mom used to make stuffed mushrooms fairly frequently when I was little and she entertained. Along with her spinach squares, Mom’s stuffed mushrooms were among my favorite appetizers.  So when it came time to find a recipe for stuffed morels, I proceeded directly to mom’s recipe for stuffed mushrooms.  (I also used her recipe for Chicken Français, or is it Française?) The stuffing consists of Italian bread crumbs, minced clams, garlic powder, butter, minced onion and possibly some other ingredients that aren’t coming to mind. I added some minced morels to the stuffing. 

The stuffed morels were seriously I’VE-DIED-AND-GONE-TO-HEAVEN-DELICIOUS. Holy cow. The earthy, meaty flavor of the morels, combined with the rich taste and smooth texture of the stuffing was almost more than my taste buds could handle–in a too-much-is-never-enough sort of way.

Eric and I found six more morels last night, and we filled four of the six mushrooms with leftover stuffing. The mushrooms shrink quite a bit when you cook them, so the bigger the morel, the better for stuffing.  Last night’s morels were fairly small, but they were good for bite-sized nibbles before dinner.  Eric tossed the two morels that were left into his scrambled eggs this morning.

I fear wild morel season in Vermont may be quickly coming to a close. I hope I have the energy to find some more before the season ends.

Crepes with Morels

Eric and I found a bunch more wild morel mushrooms this week. When I say a bunch, I mean 52, to be precise. Black morels and blond morels.

Eric sauteed a handful of them in butter and white wine to have with a Del Monico steak for dinner earlier this week. I made pasta with a sun-dried tomato cream sauce for myself the night he had the steak because I wasn’t in the mood for beef. I should have added some morels to the pasta sauce because it turned out to be surprisingly bland.  Eric kindly shared his sauteed mushrooms with me , which were unbelievably succulent. You can’t underestimate the power of a simple butter and white wine saute to enhance the natural flavor of morel mushrooms. Eating them was a religious experience.

The sauteed morels gave Eric the brilliant idea for a crepe with morels, and last night he made one bursting with mushrooms for me for dinner.  We debated whether or not to add cheese to the morel crepe. When I make crepes with sauteed button mushrooms and leeks, I always add goat cheese, but I decided I wanted a pure morel crepe. I didn’t want any other ingredients to hide the earthy, meaty flavor of the  morels. 

The crepe was wonderful.  Eric has become quite the master crepe  maker in the last few years. He loves making them. When we first met, I made them quite a bit, but since then he has happily supplanted me as the house crepe maker.

We hope to try making stuffed morels soon.

Wild Morel Bonanza!

Eric and I went out early this morning to search for morels.  We found 10 in our latest hot spot. Eric went there yesterday and found 40 or 50! It’s a veritable morel bonanza this year in our little corner of Southwestern Vermont. 

The place where we found morels last year hasn’t yielded anything so far. We went there at lunch today and got skunked again.  That’s three times this week. 

We’re going to make a morel pizza for dinner tonight. I’m dying to make some stuffed morels, as well as a wild morel stroganoff.

5 More Morels

I found five more morels at lunch today when I went hiking with Toby. All blonds.  All of a good size.  I think the weather–rain yesterday, warm sun today–had helped bring them out. Eric is going fishing tonight, and I think I might go back to last year’s hot spot while he’s on the water.  Eric and I went there last night, but we didn’t find any.  I’m hoping today’s sun and warmer weather might have coaxed them up from the ground.

Eric and I are thinking of making a wild morel pizza with the mushrooms I found today.  YUM!