Lady Slippers and Morels – 2011

The lady slippers come out in May, at least at the nearby reservoir where I can always find them. I wasn’t sure what all the rain had done to them, but I took a walk this past Sunday. There were flowers in most of the places where I’ve found them before and, in a surprise, I found a white one. There were a lot of plants that had no center flower stalk. I don’t whether that means the flowers are coming or have passed, but usually after the bloom, the stalk and the withered flower hang around for a while. Anyway, here’s the white one. Not the best photograph, I know, but between the wind which kept everything moving and my limited skills, this is the best I could do. Next year, I’m going back for a better shot.

Last Thursday, my friend Perry, a mushroom hunter who sells to area restaurants, including Ristorante DiPaolo.  dropped off a bag of morels at my office. They were beautiful and I got the chance to cook them this Saturday night. I had some stewing veal in the freezer (who doesn’t, right?)(grass-fed, sustainably raised, torture-free veal. I end up buying a lot of it from my friends at Chase Hill Farm) so I made a fricasse of veal, sauteed the morels in butter and topped the portions with it. Served over flat noodles with asparagus on the side, I felt like I was eating the season.

It was the first time I’d cooked morels and I wondered whether to slice the big ones in half. Then, after I sliced off the end of the stem and saw how hollow they were, I was glad I’d left them whole. A little gritty since I was wary about them picking up too much water from the washing, but next time I’ll know better.

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