I have been becoming increasingly interested in wild/foraged foods, and mushrooms in particular. Recently, I've read two fascinating books that combine natural history, cooking, and culture in regards to mushrooms: Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms and Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares: The Love, Lore, and Mystic of Mushrooms. I learned a lot from both of these books as well as my husband, who is an amateur forager. So when I saw that Marx Foods was holding their 5th Annual Morel Recipe Challenge: Baked Edition, I knew I wanted to participate (watch for a vote coming soon)! Morels are one of the most cherished edible mushrooms in North America. They are buttery and earthy, but also have a very fleeting season.
Voting is now live! Please visit this link to vote for my recipe! Thank you!
I received a sample package of dried morel mushrooms for the recipe contest. Their aroma was wonderful and they rehydrate easily. I was going back and forth on what to make with the morels, but I knew I wanted to really highlight their earthiness and not overpower them with too many other flavors -- plus the recipe needed to be baked in the oven. I decided on making a custard. While custards are generally thought of as dessert, this one is very savory. This time of year, the ramps are also emerging, so I wanted to incorporate those into my recipe -- their greens made a perfect vinaigrette to cut through all the creaminess of the custard. I used goat cheese and grass-fed cow milk in the custard to really highlight and focus on the earthiness of the mushrooms and spring in general.
The recipe will serve 2-4 people. I made two custards in 6-oz. ramekins. You can eat one per person, or even share one. They are good as a starter to a meal or as part of a weekend brunch. Serve them with some toasted crusty bread and a salad of spring greens, if desired. These are a decadent treat full of spring flavors.
Savory morel and goat cheese custards with wild ramp vinaigrette
for the custards:
4 (about 2 oz.) dried morel mushrooms, rehydrated (reserve liquid)
4 ramps, whites thinly sliced and greens reserved
1 pat of butter, plus more for greasing
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4-oz goat cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs yolks
for the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup roughly chopped ramp greens
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
pinch of sea salt
Slice the rehydrated mushrooms into about 1/2-inch rings. Warm a pat of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and ramp whites. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the are softened and lightly golden. Stir in the thyme and season with a little salt and pepper. Then deglaze the pan with about 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved soaking liquid. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly butter your ramekins. In a food processor, blend the goat cheese, milk, egg yolks, and a pinch of sea salt until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Arrange half the morel and ramp mixture on the bottom of each ramekin. Pour half of the custard mixture on top of each. Lightly tap the ramekins on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the dish about half way with warm water. Cover with foil. Bake until cooked through (so they no longer jiggle) about 18-20 minutes.
Let cool completely.
Puree the vinaigrette ingredients in the food processor until well-combined.
When the custards are cool, gently run a knife along the edges and place a plate on top of the ramekin. Carefully flip it over to pop it out upside down onto the plate. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette are serve.
Note: While Marx Foods provided me with the morels, all opinions expressed are my own.
What was I cooking one year ago?: peanut chocolate chip cookies
Two years ago?: spaghetti with fennel, artichokes, arugula, and olives
Three?: egg tarts with ramps and wild mushrooms