6 May 2011

Follow the British Columbia Food Trail with Creamy Morel Mushrooms on Grilled Ciabatta Bread

Creamy Mushrooms on Grilled Ciabatta Bread

As seen on Honest Cooking.

When sick, or tired, or far from home, everyone seems to yearn for the gastronomic equivalent of a warm sweater, a kiss on the forehead, or a favourite blanket. Comfort foods nourish the soul as well as our bodies and tend to be familiar foods that remind us of simpler times or of a contented childhood. Comfort food is generally associated with the onset of cooler weather but what comforts you when a Spring day turns wet, gray and cold and the weather feels anything but Spring-like? The best medicine is undeniably some delicious comfort food. Just like the pending season your senses can be awakened with anything from a creamy soup of garden fresh peas, an asparagus-heavy risotto or a pudding dotted with rhubarb.

Spring is a season where comfort foods reign. It is not uncommon even in Spring for my home to be filled with warm, fragrant and earthy aromas of a slow cooked roast or bubbling crock pot, but, there is absolutely NOTHING on the planet as comforting to me as a delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese. There's something very satisfying about making this classic yourself from start to finish. I serve my favourite Beechers Macaroni and Cheese with another favourite comfort food to reach culinary nirvana , a soul-satisfying creamy mushroom topped ciabatta . I make no apologies whatsoever for either dish with their cheese, butter and carbs.

Seattle - Pike Place Market

No matter what the season mushrooms lend that rich, earthy flavour that tantalizes our senses and remind of us simpler days. Spring reminds me of Morchella or Morilles or there more well known common name Morels. This is one of the most popular, sought after wild mushrooms which is sadly only available in the Spring which makes them even more desirable!!! Every year in late April and into May, the hunters will scour the earth for that wrinkled little mushroom cap resembling a cross between a honeycomb and conehead-shaped brain that’s often yellow, sometimes black. They are sought after for their smokey flavoured, nut-like long brown caps. These treasures can only be hand picked in the wild and are of the utmost in appearance and quality. They have flourished in the province in more recent years since they often grow on forest floors that have suffered fires.

For the uninitiated, morels are probably the easiest and safest mushroom to forage for in the woods. A lot of other wild mushrooms have look-alikes that can turn dinner into a trip to the hospital or worse. Morels have a couple of cousins, commonly called false morels, which really don’t look anything like their edible counterparts. But remember the rule with mushrooms is if you aren’t sure don’t eat it.
I wish that I could tell you that one of my favourite comfort foods was made with morels, but the day I went looking they were not available. If morels are not available, and they were not for their photo debut, substitute other exotic or wild mushrooms like oyster, chanterelles, shiitake or cremini, or any other tantalizing combination for this creamy, earthy accompaniment to my favourite macaroni and cheese. You can also prepare this as a light lunch and add some shaved Parmesan cheese just before serving with a lightly dressed green salad on the side.

**Creamy Mushrooms on Grilled Ciabatta Bread**
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread or bruschetta loaf
  • 1/2 pound (250 grams) morel mushrooms, ends trimmed (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons (25 g/1 oz/1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL/1 oz) dry white wine or white vermouth
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL/2 oz)  or more heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh chopped chives or scallions
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL)  minced fresh herbs (parsley, chervil or savory)
  • Coarse sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon, for garnish.
1. Cut the bread into 1–1.5-cm thick slices. Heat a ridged skillet and grill the bread slices on both sides until lightly toasted (you don’t need to use any oil). Keep to one side.

2. Using a pastry brush or a clean cloth, brush excess dirt from mushrooms (do not soak or rinse with water). Slice mushrooms in half lengthwise and brush away any grit; chop into 1/4-inch pieces if large. If they are small keep whole.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter foams add the garlic and shallots and sauté until they soften and just begin to colour, approximately 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the morels and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine, chives and herbs, cover, and cook for 3 minutes more until the wine has bubbled away in the pan.

4. Lower the heat and add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, 2 minutes longer. How much cream you use depends on how rich and creamy you want the dish to be.

5. To serve, place the bread onto a plate and spoon over the warm creamy mushrooms.Sprinkle with additional chives, garnish with sea salt, and serve immediately.

2 servings or 8 as an appetizer.
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. I really like the idea! What a marvelous combination. Succulent.



  2. Your photos are gorgeous and the food looks soooo delicious! My parents always foraged for several varieties and morels were the best so I need to do it myself after seeing your post. This is exactly my idea of comfort food for this chilly spring.

  3. you right there´s nothing like comfort food. Love the combination sounds delicious

  4. This to me sings 'comfort' assuming, of course, there was a glass of wine on the table too!

  5. Love this post and you are so right - there's nothing in the world like comfort food! I adore mushrooms and am looking forward to making this recipe. I haven't cooked alot of recipes with morels but I sure do love them - thanks for sharing:)

  6. so tasty n fullfilling...love your presentation..
    Tasty Appetite

  7. Morels definitely have a super distinct look to them so I can see why they'd be the least dangerous to search for! These open-faced mushroom sandwiches look delicious! Definite comfort food.

  8. Every June, I find morels in my front lawn! There used to be a charcoal maker who lived (and made charcoal) on our land, and it seems that the residual ash makes a very favorable environment for morels. I always feel so lucky to enjoy our small mushroom harvest.

  9. I feel comforted just looking at your pictures of that lovely mac and cheese and toasts. :) Morels are delicious but very dear in these parts. They can be found growing wild in our area, but I've never been lucky enough to come across any-I'd love to find some though!

  10. Yesss, I love comfort food at any time of year. This looks absolutely great! :) xxxxx

  11. Morels are my fave of the 'shrooms but this recipe would be good with any? Better have lots of bread on hand for this one!

  12. Earthy, creamy...yeah, total comfort. Add bread to that mix...and I'm be happy to curl up with this anytime of the year :D

  13. I'm sorry, I can't focus on mushrooms with that gorgeous mac and cheese distracting me.

  14. I love this Val, look delicious and amazing!! nice pictures! gloria

  15. Oh yes please Val! Creamy mushrooms on toast is a def winner! And that mac and cheese sounds even better. All we need is a glass of red!

  16. Wild mushrooms are indeed wonderful. I am not familiar with morels. I left my knowledge of wild mushroom in Italy when I moved. I think your mushrooms make a great comfort food.

  17. What I wouldn't give for a taste of that right now! It looks fantastic!

  18. I saw morels at the local farmers' market and didn't notice the price. They are spendy little morsels, aren't they? This dish looks like its worth every penny. The mac and cheese sounds delicious as well. This kind of comfort food is still on the menu here because of the cold, wet spring we are having.

    I hope you have a very special and Happy Mother's Day, Val.

  19. My family love any kind of mushroom, they also love ciabatta. Both combination will definitely make them happy.

  20. Mushrooms and bread, you can't go wrong there! I could eat about 100 of these, Val!

  21. I see I'm not the only one dealing with cold spring days. I should be thinking of flowers and spring veggies and I'm thinking of soup and mac and cheese far more often because the weather refuses to be (and stay) warm.

    I love making crostini and such with mushrooms and wine and herbs. I never thought to add cream though. I should!

  22. What a delicacy they are! I love mushrooms but have only had morels once and have never had mushrooms on toast. Delicious!

  23. What a great way to enjoy some mushrooms!

  24. AnonymousMay 14, 2011

    What a lovely comfort food! Morels are still on my "need to try" list, but we do have other mushrooms available that would be lovely on these toasts.

  25. I have been so into mushrooms lately - eating them almost everyday! This is a great preparation!


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