Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring in Seattle

Is there anything more lovely than seeing flowers bloom?

And spring vegetables emerge?

This morning Bob and I strolled the Pike Place Market and enjoyed the signs that spring is finally arriving in Seattle.

We tasted juicy samples of peaches, melon and apple, and loaded a bag with ramps, fiddlehead ferns, morel mushrooms ($59.50/lb!), peaches, red butter lettuce, blue kale, radishes and dill. As we continued our walk I began thinking of what to cook when we got home. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so a brunch dish is in order.

We also popped in at Penzey's to stock up on cocoa powder, Vietnamese cinnamon and vanilla. Penzey's arrived in Seattle last October and is ideally located a couple blocks from the Market. I'm delighted to be able to shop in the store and not order online anymore.

Once home, I went to work creating a brunch dish for Mother's Day. The morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns seemed like an appealing pair. Since this is my first time cooking with fiddleheads, I read about trimming the dark ends, blanching and then sauteeing the ferns. They are funky looking and the texture reminds me of asparagus, which lead me to think of hollandaise sauce. A twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict began to evolve...

Our three backyard hens lay eggs with the most gorgeous yolks and I'm always happy to have a new way to showcase them. After preparing the fiddleheads and sauteeing the morels in butter, I turned to Jane Grigson's Good Things for a hollandaise guideline and stirred up a lemony sauce. A quick dip of a fiddlehead into the hollandaise confirmed it is a good match. Very important to taste as you go. I poached a few eggs and Fiddlehead and Morel Eggs Benedict was ready for my tasting crew!

Fiddlehead and Morel Eggs Benedict

2 1/2 ounces morel mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 ounces fiddlehead ferns
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 large eggs
salt to taste

Soak morel mushrooms in a bowl of cold water and swish around to clean. Drain and quarter lengthwise (or if large, slice in half, too). Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in small saute pan and add mushroom. Saute on medium heat until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Set aside.

Rinse fiddlehead ferns and trim the dark ends of them. Blanche in salted water for 2 minutes and drain. Heat olive oil in saute pan (can use the same one from the mushrooms) and saute fiddleheads on medium heat for about 6 minutes, until soft but slightly crunchy. Salt to taste and set aside.

In a 2 quart sauce pan, bring the 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water to a boil. Let simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Reduce heat to low and add the 3 egg yolks. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. With the heat on low, add a tablespoon of the unsalted butter and stir until melted and blended in. Keep adding butter a tablespoon at a time and blending it in. When all butter is added, stir in lemon juice and salt to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In a medium sauce pan, bring an inch of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Crack each egg into a ramekin and slide it into the water. Reduce heat to medium and poach eggs for about 3 minutes (depending upon how runny you like your yolks). Gently nudge each egg after a minute to make sure they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the fiddlehead ferns between 2 warm plates. Gently place 2 poached eggs on top of each bed of ferns. Divide the morel mushrooms on top of the eggs and drizzle hollandaise on top (you will have extra sauce to dip your fiddleheads in). Add a few grinds of fresh pepper and enjoy.

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms!

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