Menu of the Week April 26th

Spring is finally here, I mean really here and I think this time it is staying.  It seems like we are still a couple of weeks behind, but I think maybe we just always think that.  My first tulips bloomed today.  I don’t know how they are yellow as I am not a fan of yellow and wouldn’t have purchased yellow bulbs, but they are definitely yellow like butter cream.  I lean toward the very pink and purple when it comes to tulips.  These were on sale at the end of fall last year.  Lesson learned.  To prove Spring is finally in MI, here is a pic of a morel I found this week in my driveway:

morels 09

I guess I should have looked for a 2009 penny or how will you know it was taken last week?

This week’s host for the menu swap is Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness and she is seeking hosts if any of you are interested.  The ingredient this week is carob, which I don’t have any of on hand, so I will sit this ingredient out unless I run to the health food store.  We have decided to go back to planning our menu as much as possible for all 7 days so we don’t end up without a plan on the weekends and end up with spaghetti again.

Menu:
Sunday: Paella with three types of chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika, tomatoes, chicken, peas and piquillo peppers from Spain.

Monday: Grilled wild sea bass, horseradish dill creme fraiche potato salad and broccoli rabe

Tuesday: Vietnamese Banh Xeo with shrimp, (our) pork and bean sprouts, a side of do cha (diakon radish and carrot pickle) and North Vietnamese style fried spring rolls

Wednesday: Grilled flank steak with Chimichurri sauce (similar to Italian salsa verde) and grilled asparagus

Thursday: Pakistani Kunna: pork braised in a yogurt sauce from Madher Jaffery’s book, along with a fresh chickpea curry with curry leaves

Friday: Black and blue grass fed burgers on the grill (Gorgonzola cheese and plenty of my homemade blackening seasoning which I will post soon – back to the rub of the month time!), fresh cut Michigan fries and a green salad (our greens hopefully, but not likely)

Saturday: Mexican tortilla soup using my brother’s organic chicken as the base and one of the last jars of canned tomatoes from the pantry. My avocado is already ripening. Maybe my cilantro will be harvestable by next Saturday….

i’m out

Appetizer of the week: Morels

Ah morel mushrooms….

morels

It is spring here in Michigan. We had a really long winter and once winter leaves and the lilacs are about to bloom, it is my favorite time of year – wild morel mushroom hunting season. Yes, you hunt morels, you don’t find them. You stalk them, creep up on them, stop and stare, pause and pounce on morels, leaving the root behind for next year’s spore action.

three morels

I mentioned it is spring, but Mother Nature has been confusing lately and giving us a 75F day and then the next week is below freezing at night. She has confused the morels too. Normally I wouldn’t expect to start hunting for another week or two and I actually have time off planned to go visit the farm/friends and fam up in Leelanau at the end of May, but when I was raking the lawn this week, I almost raked a cluster of morels.

morels up close with morels

In my yard, yes. Oh bleaders, I did the mushroom dance immediately (one must do the mushroom dance when you find your first mushroom). I think my BF was a bit surprised at my reaction. It is the happiest day of spring when you find your favorite mushroom anywhere, much less in your lawn. I have had a lot of trees (that were dying) removed from my backyard over the last 5 years and have lots of woody mass in the backyard still. Every year when I wash any morels I have found, I carefully save the rinse water and pour it out in the backyard along the fence, hoping the spores will cultivate and that the mushroom gods will smile upon me again.

morels in the yard

It’s working. I found my first morel in my yard 3 years ago when I was rototilling the garden plot. Every year they have been in a totally different location. Last year I found 8. This year, I found 20 30! A  1/2 pound.  I am cooking them up tonight in a most cherished appetizer. Unless you have mushrooms coming out of your ears, then you don’t find very many and to me, they are best eaten alone, with just a few accompaniments.

I prefer them two ways: one way coats them in a light dusting of flour first, the second is cooked the same way, no dusting. Usually I have some wild leeks to go along with it and often find morels and leeks side by side in the forest. However, my backyard is lacking in wild leeks, for now. Often when hunting morels you will find a wild stalk of asparagus and we always slice that up and toss it in too. I found three spindly spears of asparagus in our newly established asparagus patch at the back of the garden. So, the appetizer will be as follows:

morel hunting

Fresh Morels, sliced in half (rinse and inspect for bugs first), lightly dusted in flour of your choice. A stalk of asparagus, sliced thinly like a green onion. Butter – no olive oil for this one. Salt, pepper and thyme – fresh from the herb pot. One clove of garlic, or use a wild leek if you have one, minced – the leek sliced thin.

Melt the butter, toss in your dusted morels and when they are about halfway cooked through, add the rest of the ingredients. Let the morel get a bit crispy – it locks the flavor in behind the flour coating. Eat immediately.

Or the other way, melt the butter, toss in your halved morels (rinse and inspect for bugs first), asparagus, garlic and seasonings. Cook just until the mushrooms have wilted a bit and give off their juices. Immediately pull from the heat and eat the mushrooms using your favorite bread to soak up the juices.

Elixir of the heavens.

sauteed morels

i’m out