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Sun-dried Apricots & Garlic Stuffed Morels–Working With This Mushroom

DDMoreldish6sharp.1winner Sun dried Apricots & Garlic Stuffed Morels  Working With This Mushroom

Tis Hello SPRING!

It is finally here, though I love me some Winter and snow and cold weather and all the snuggly things that come with it. Aside from being able to wear awesome hats, scarves and great boots, I love being able to play with and eat seasonal Fall foods, like pumpkin soup. And carrot soup. And rabo encendido. And pomegranate-anything. And the list goes on and on.

But, it’s now primavera, and new harvests are starting to yield amazing ingredients.

Some of the ones I tend to gravitate to at the markets are citrus fruits, Florida avocados, garlic (which is a year round must  for me as part of the Cuban Holy Trinity), asparagus and artichoke.  The latter isn’t very akin to Cuban or even Latin cuisine, but I’ve played around with it enough to make it work with some of our staple flavors.

So, in anticipation of getting ready to get busy with all the new flavors of the season, I started perusing the aisles of  the Int’l market next door to my place.  And then, I find out about Dean & DeLuca’s Spring Produce Recipe Contest. The idea was to create a recipe using some of their pre-selected Spring ingredients, as listed on their blog.

I had two days to think, create and make.

FIRST INGREDIENT: MOREL MUSHROOMS

From the list, morels jumped out at me! As much as I love mushrooms, I’d never eaten a morel–I don’t think. Imagine that. Truffles are one thing, and the one mushroom that makes me the happiest. The aroma alone is intoxicating. But morels have never really enticed me.

I first chose them as the base of my recipe because of their aesthetic resemblance to tripe (which I heart very much so). Some describe them as honeycomb-like, which is just as true. I was also inspired to use them because they’re seldom, if ever, used in our cuisine, so I wanted to somehow infuse it with those staples I mentioned above. And then finally, I was inspired because when Joel Robuchon and I met, his sous brought out a stunning bowl of fresh porcini, just flown in from Asia. He spent time talking about how he ensures his staff hand picks each single fungus to make sure he ends up with the most perfect looking and smelling mushroom–the highest quality possible.

bowlofmorels Sun dried Apricots & Garlic Stuffed Morels  Working With This Mushroom

I wanted to apply the same approach to selecting this gourmet food. This earthy and very meaty ‘shroom is not cheap, let me tell you.  I went to Whole Foods and they only had them in the back. They brought me out a box and quoted me $40/lb. Yikes. Thank goodness I had some time on my hands, cuz I sure indeed stood over the box, staring first, and then digging through, looking for the perfect FOUR! Yes, four, because at that price, I wasn’t even going to get 1/2 lb. Not being cheap, just didn’t know what the experiment was going to be like.

It took me about 30 minutes to hand-pick the ones I bought, and each one embodied those qualities Robuchon encouraged me to look for.

DDlonemorel Sun dried Apricots & Garlic Stuffed Morels  Working With This Mushroom

Here’s a good website that talks about the morel mushroom, its properties and how to best use them (including some classic recipes). I’m interested in mushroom hunting, as I’ve seen some nasty smelling fungus growing in my own backyard that intrigue me; but, I’ve also seen some beauties out in the wild. That’ll be a post for another day, though mushroom hunting season is nearing.

NEXT INGREDIENT: APRICOTS

Love these, too. Don’t buy hardly enough, but they’re a super source of  vitamins. I grew up eating fresh apricots, either in smoothies or salads. Again, not something entirely too akin to Latin cuisine, but definitely something we incorporate on the occasion.

I chose apricots simply because I’m so used to eating mushrooms as a savory dish. I thought mixing up the morels with something sweet would be totally out the box for me (and even you). They’re in season, but unable to really find them just yet as fresh fruit. So, sun-dried it was. Bought a jewel case of those tart little things and nibbled away at some, while I made my 1st time recipe.

LAST INGREDIENT: GARLIC!

Oh yeah baby! This is where it’s at. Garlic, ajo, garlic, ajo! I can bite right into this stuff, I swear. Men, beware if you want to get all snuggly. Oral pores aren’t so sexy after garlic infused-anything. However, since I’m a huge fan, I think garlic should go into everything! This was a no brainer for me. The only thing I did want to add that wasn’t on the list, and I used for  enhancement and flavor puroses only, were red onions.

Smart. I have to say.

I sauteéd a mixture of minced apricots, garlic and red onion (a pinch of salt if you need to) in a bit of olive oil and it came out delicious! Better than I expected.

All that went into the mushroom, which was slightly challenging as the opening after removing the cap wasn’t very big (except for one big cahoona, which I opted not to show in the final dish pic). I then lightly seared/sauteéd the morels in butter. I closed off the opening with half of another apricot.

Talk about sexy goodness!

There was extra fruit/garlic mix, so I used that to line this pretty crystal dish my mom recently bought me. I diagonally lined up the mushrooms on the dish, et viola, mira, a nice and different appetizer for  you gourmands!

I was pleased with it, but have to say, like any other mushroom, you have to really like the meaty, earthiness and sometimes pungency of taste they offer. They shrink down quite a bit, so they’re not going to look as plump as the uncooked ones. Plus, all the water retention is evaporated the minute they hit heat.

Here’s to a winning recipe and hopefully I can get that gift card to buy some of their chocolate!

*UPDATE Monday 3/29/10* I received an email from Dean & DeLuca in NY early this morning to let me know their team of chefs had reviewed all the submissions and they loved mine the best, so I won!!! Woot Woot! Thanks so much to D&D and team for the honor and thinking my creation was a smash hit! It’s pretty awesome to be recognized by such an A-class gourmet foodie outpost such as Dean & DeLuca, so you know I’m trippy happy! You can read their blog post about the win here.  Now, what should I get with the gift card they’re sending me?!?!

DDmoreldish1.2 Sun dried Apricots & Garlic Stuffed Morels  Working With This Mushroom

WHAT DO YOU THINK? WOULD YOU TRY THIS AT HOME?

WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO SPRING INGREDIENTS?

SUN-DRIED APRICOTS & GARLIC STUFFED MORELS

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized fresh morel mushrooms
  • 7 sundried apricots, parted
  • 1.5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of salt (optional)

Method:

Rinse morels and pat dry, completely.  Remove cap and slightly open/expand opening, about ¼ inch.  Set aside. Mince 5 medium apricots. In medium skillet, heat olive oil on medium.  Add apricots and red onions and pinch of salt if you like. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for additional 2 minutes.  Set mixture aside.  Add butter to same skillet and lightly brown morels for 2 minutes, on medium heat. Using tongs, gently turn mushrooms in order to brown all sides. Remove from heat. Using a demitasse spoon or a smaller utensil, fill each morel with apricot and garlic mixture. Reserve remaining mixture.

Take remaining 2 apricots and split them in half, using your fingers, leaving four thinner slices. Quickly sear those in same skillet, for about 30 seconds.  Place one slice of apricot under each mushroom and secure using a toothpick.  Using remaining apricot and garlic mixture to line our serving dish. Place morels diagonally on dish.

Serves 1-2.

By Bren
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Comments

    Rosa says:

    What a fantastic idea! That sounds and looks delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    norma says:

    Bren: Muy interesante. I like the combination..different but it looks like the flavors blend. Elegante!

    zenchef says:

    Weee.. morels!! It must be spring! I would have never thought of combining apricots and morels but i bet it works (i thought it was bacon when i first saw the picture. hehe) I like when you play with your food Bren.

    Jason says:

    Whoa, rich… The floral morels with the apricot smells and tastes great even from here. (And garlic’s a given. No such thing as too much. Sliced of raw garlic in a salad are great.)

    bunkycooks says:

    I need to run back to Harry’s tomorrow to grab a few morels! This looks like a fabulous combination.

    SizzleMel says:

    Wow… i think only Bren could come up with something like this.

    I usually use morels in meat stew. I do love morels but have never done anything as creative as this pairing! I can see it as great (fancy-pants) hors d’oeuvre

    I wouldn’t refuse this Bren. Great job. When I thing Spring my go to ingreidients wouyld be fiddleheads, asparagus and rhubarb.

    Kenster says:

    Bren, these mushrooms really look like a meaty treat. I’ve never used them, but by the way the pictures look, I may try out my cooking skills on this one.

    Margot says:

    Wow, I have never tried those yet… your dish look very tasty, even in my state I would eat them straight away :)

    chefb says:

    Rosa: Thanks, Rosa… I hope you try it!

    Norma: Super interesanta pero funciana. Una coca pa’los finos! jaja!

    Zenchef: Yay! Morels! Loved it. Bacon? I’ve had so many guesses as to what both the mushroom and the apricots are! LOL!

    Jason: I know, right! I know you’d appreciate it… and you know I know garlic is the best!! works in everything!

    Bunkycooks: Yes, girl! Go get some! THey have a lot of WF and I’m sure Harry’s.

    SizzleMel: Hahaha. Well, it did its thing and won the recipe contest for D & D! Would absolutely be a great hors d’oeuvre–will offer it to clients this Spring.

    Val: Gracias! I loved it. I need to work more with fiddleheads.

    Kenster: Thank you dear. Well you saw the behind the scenes so you know how meaty they really are!

    Margot: Yes, that special state you’re in would require something like this! Try to make them if you can find where in the UK. Hugs momma!

    CB says:

    HIJA.esa receta si que me impresiono se ve muy delicioso .apetitoso y elegante .se lo voy hacer a tu padre felicidades la alunna supero a la maestra mami

    Dullah says:

    Congrats on your win! This dish looks mad “flavorable”(new word for the spring–DON’T BITE). Love is Love. Keep doing your thing.

    chris says:

    Yeah! Heading over to the blog now. :) Never had Morels. Thinking that’s another dish I need to try…when I come visit. ;) Congrats!

    zara says:

    Just found your blog.. Love it! Had to add it to my blogroll.

    Derek says:

    Congratulations to you Bren on winning the Dean & DeLuca’s spring recipe contest. Wow… what a great and creative looking dish. The combination of fresh Morel mushrooms stuffed with garlic, onions, and sun-dried apricots really have my mouth watering to taste this dish. At my next get together, I will surely ask you to prepare these for my guests, I know that they will be in for a great tasting treat. Once again congratulations, job well done..

    Chef German says:

    Sweet Recipe Bren. I love how you mixed all those ingredients to make something so rare yet exotic and colorful. big thumbs up as always!

    David says:

    Super congratulations! I love mushrooms and apricot, so this combo must taste really scrumptious; can’t wait to try it.

    ChefB says:

    CB: sabes que the creativity lo saque de ti… tu me inspiras, siempre. tienes que tratar esta receta.

    Dullah: Thank You J! love the new word for Spring. So Harlem-esque!

    Chris: Thank you, lady. We’ll play with it next time you’re over, which needs to be soon.

    Zara: Welcome! Thanks for adding me. Will visit you, too!

    Derek: thanks, my no. 1 client right now. I’ll have to make this for you, but it’s gonna cost you since you know it is a winning recipe at Dean & Deluca!

    Chef German: Thanks, Chef! I hope you try it and share with your clients

    David: Thank to you, too. Have your wife try them!

    Cynthia says:

    Just yesterday I was telling a friend how jealous I am that you all live in a place where you can get such variety of mushrooms.

    Lori Lynn says:

    That is one creative combination of ingredients!
    Congrats on your win!
    LL

    Kathleen says:

    Wow. These sound amazing!

    cheffresco says:

    I am also happy it’s spring! The only thing I really like about cold weather is the warm food :) I’ve only had dry morel mushrooms – never fresh. Those guys look tasty!

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