During one visit to Whole Foods, I came across dried morel mushrooms at the cheese and deli section. Since I've never seen morels at a market before, I kindly asked the woman behind the counter how much the morels were. "$289.99 per pound," she replied. My jaws dropped. That's a little less than what I can get fresh black truffles for! I politely thanked her for checking and walked off. That wasn't the last of the morel mushrooms though-- I had them on my mind every hour of the day, thinking of the creamy savory dishes I could make with morels. I went back and stared at the dried fungi a few more times the next couple of days before I finally worked up the nerves to buy some. I picked up a little pre-packed container of morels and… $11.60. WHAT?! I was expecting to see something more like $75!!! I wish I had looked at the price sooner instead of ruminating on mushrooms for the past few days. I guess dried mushrooms weigh a lot less than their fresh counterpart.
Since I'd already had so much time to think of what to make due to my hankering for the expensive little buggers, I quickly picked up the rest of my ingredients (fennel, garlic, fresh pasta, heavy cream, parmagiano reggiano) and went home to play.
First thing with dried mushrooms, especially if youre going to cook them some time soon, is to soak them in warm water. While awaiting the reconstitution of my mushrooms, I took my puppy to the dog park. By the time I returned an hour later, the morels were all set to go! I browned some butter and thyme, threw in chopped garlic, julienned fennel, and the morels, then added a bit of the water from the soak to bring out the wonderful aroma of morels. While preparing the sauce, I used that time to boil salted water for the fresh pasta. While the water was boiling, I added heavy cream to my mushroom and fennel and watched for a nice bubbling simmer. Only when the fresh pasta went into the pot of boiling water did I add my freshly grated parmagiano reggiano to the sauce and stirred away. Since fresh pasta only takes about 3-4 minutes to cook, it was just enough time for the cheese to melt in the cream without separating. Once the cheese melted, I turned the heat off to let the sauce thicken, then lightly tossed the pasta into the sauce… Toss toss toss, plate, wipe, threw in some fennel leaves, snap snap snap some pictures, MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!! Don't bother me. I'm eating.