I’ve been in Napa learning about bread at Bouchon Bakery and hope to post about later this week—bread is endlessly fascinating, infinitely complex, and to dive deeper into the craft with a baker, Matthew McDonald, who has been working with yeasted doughs pretty much his whole life, is one of the happier circumstances of a freelance life—but I hate to leave home.  In anticipation of being away, I made lunch for Donna so we could have a few focused moments together before I left.  With morels on my mind and a quick preparation required, I put together a simple speedy lunch to feature the mushroom: scrambled eggs with chives, morels with a simple cream sauce (recipe in this post) and an arugula salad dressed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil. I didn’t ask Donna Read On »

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In the spring of 1996, a CIA instructor took us on a hunt for morel mushrooms. Why do you love these mushrooms, I asked him. “They’re just too cool,” he said  And they are.  Morels are what mushrooms are all about. They’ve got that gnomish head, brain-like, peculiar, twisted. They’re wild, what forager Connie Green calls a gift-of-God mushroom, unpredictable. And kind of scary looking, dangerous (hopeful phallus, menacingly wrinkled cap).  And they taste so deeply mushroomy, of the earth they rise out of.  We spent all day in the Hudson Valley, and I didn’t find one. My friend Adam did, found two, gave them to me with a scowl, angry he didn’t find more. I cut them open; tiny bugs scurried everywhere inside. When my friend JD Sullivan said “Want to go look for Read On »

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Dried beans and salt. Dried beans and soaking.  Ask some chefs and they’ll tell you add salt in the beginning and the beans will never get soft.  Some chefs have suggested that salt slows the rehydration of beans.  Others say, the slower the rehydration, the better the finished bean (fewer broken ones), so it’s important to soak them overnight.  Others say it doesn’t really matter, or it depends.  One thing that is demonstrably true is that you don’t have to soak your beans overnight; if you want beans for dinner, put them in water and cook them till they’re tender or at least edible, no soaking, no blanching, just put them in a pot and cook them. Wanting to get to the bottom of this, though, and having little scientific knowledge of bean cookery myself, Read On »

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