Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Spring Finale, The Summer Prelude: Crostini with Morels, Wild Greens & Mascarpone








 

Today, just like that, spring decided to leave the area... It had not even settled in a steady rhythm, it had not left its mark, the ramps had not fully taken the market, nor has the scent of blossoms and suddenly it was over.

I wrote about it a while ago -- I will never cease to admire the clockwork that ticks the patterns of the seasons in the North East. The Memorial Day tick marks the beginning of the summer; tick-tock and spring disappears, making room for the hot air, trips to beaches, lobster, lemonades and slushies. The Labor Day tick makes the summer go away. In a split of a second, almost like a switch, tick-tock we wake up and put the sweaters on as if summer never existed. Tick-tock and soon after Thanksgiving, somewhere on the road towards Christmas the frost arrives, trailed by the winds, snow and ice; the storms take over until about the April fools day, when tick-tock all of a sudden the Nature sends out its powers again.

The clockwork of the North East did its magic again and this week as I enter the market there are little spring produces left. Their voices have matured; from delicate spring sopranos they are now alto, louder, fuller, more assertive. The produce has gathered courage to speak up, and so they do... Soon they will be loud, they will be opinionated, they will stand up; soon they will resonate in a brilliant lush summer tenor, splashing the colors of the sun all around.

Herbs and wild greens are taking over the market today; I crisscross from stand to stand and buy every edible green plant imaginable: mustard greens, lambs quarter, amaranth, nettles, wild arugula. Contrary to my normal self today I forgo the flowers -- the herbs are in full bloom and my minds eye has already painted a picture of herb filled crystal glasses in every corner of the apartment. I want to wake up to the scent of thyme and lavender, I crave a gigantic bouquet of chives on the kitchen table and a garland of rue for the living room. The basket is quickly filling up and just as I am about to call it a day, I see them hiding under the piles of other produce, I see the last two morels of the season, one yellow, one black, two perfect looking little sponges, two bundles of hollows, two mushrooms above all other mushrooms in the world. I grab the morels before checking the price, a decision I come to regret for a split of a second and split of a second only, until culinary joy and excitement take over. I cannot decide if it will be the finale to spring or prelude to summer, but the morels, herbs and greens will make beautiful music together. The day is gloriously happy, nothing but sunshine, flip-flops, summer dresses, produce and the music. And I too am happy: for the sunshine, for my dress and my basket; happy to the core in the best possible way.

Farewell spring! Happy summer folks!










Crostini with Morels, Wild Greens & Mascarpone



* fresh baguette or ciabatta, sliced into medium thick slices
* 8 oz mascarpone
* olive oil for drizzling



morel topping

* 6-8 oz morels 
* 1/2 small shallot, sliced into thin ribs
* 3 tbsp butter
* salt and freshly ground pepper



mustard greens toping

* one small bunch of mustard greens
* 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
* salt and freshly ground pepper 



chive & rue topping

* 2 cups onion chives, finely chopped 
* 1 cup garlic chives, finely chopped 
* 3/4 cup rue leaves and flowers, finely chopped 
* 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
* 1/2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar 
* salt and freshly ground pepper



1. Clean the morels: Morels can be notoriously gritty. Oftentimes they are home to pesky little creatures. But they are delicate little souls and do not like rough treatment. I like to slice them in half, soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes, gently rinse under running water and then dry carefully with paper towel. (There is a lot of debate around how to properly clean morels and if you have a method of choice, go for it.)

2. Prepare the crostini: Preheat the oven to 350
°F. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Bake until bread is lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Place the crostini on a serving tray.

3. Prepare the chive and rue topping: In a small skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rue and sauté for about minute or two, until rue has wilted. Add the chives and sauté for another minute. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the balsamic and season generously with salt and pepper

4. Prepare the mustard greens topping: In a small skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute, until garlic starts to release its flavor. Add the mustard greens and sauté for another two minutes, until the greens begin to wilt. Remove from the heat. Season generously with salt and pepper 


5.
Prepare the morel topping: Slice the morel halves thinly crosswise. In a small skillet heat the butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté for about a minute. Add the morels and sauté for another three or so minutes, until the morels are soft. Remove from the heat. Season generously with salt and pepper

6.
Assemble the crostini: Spread the mascarpone on top of the crostini and then finish with the topping of your choice. (Mixing toppings is allowed and encouraged.) Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Have fun!



Serves 4






4 comments :

  1. I was just thinking the same thing this week-- spring has definitely transformed into summer. This is a beautiful farewell-- I love morels!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ... as much as I love summer, this spring was so short, I did not have a chance to cook half of the foods I was planning on doing

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  2. Beautiful! I can imagine the wonderful, herby scents from the other side of the globe... Winter has just come to Sydney

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sophie, thanks for stopping by. I do not envy you, winter is so not my favorite season, and this year we had a bit too much of it.

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