Tuesday, May 1, 2012
There's a teeny town about an hour west of Indianapolis by the name of Mansfield. They're known for the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival and the Mansfield Mushroom Festival. That's MOREL mushrooms. For those of you who've never had the pleasure of eating a morel, I can tell you there's absolutely nothing like them. The first time I had one in 2005, I was hooked. Totally hooked. They come out in April and are only available for a few weeks. There are two kinds of morels - yellow and black. The black have a more woodsy, pungent flavor. The yellows are a bit more mellow. They're both incredible. One thing to note is that they should NOT be eaten raw. Evidently that can lead to an upset tummy. Not the result one wants from eating decadence.
We started our adventure at the Keystone Deli. It's a hole in the wall not too far from our home. Breakfast is their specialty. Several years ago the Indianapolis Star ran an article about them and for a year after there was a HUGE line. Now, it's back to normal - the place is packed but you typically don't have to wait terribly long. We both ordered the smokehouse breakfast. Two eggs, basted, bacon, biscuits and gravy, home fries, extra crispy. The home fries went into a box and into the cooler in the trunk. They'll be turned into blue cheese potato salad for lunch on Monday.
Next stop - Goose the Market. Goose is a butcher shop, deli, specialty market. Chris Eley manages to make a pretty small space work quite well. We wanted to use our gift card on a couple of steaks for our morel bash. Into the cooler went the steaks along with four scallops for another meal.
On the road to Mansfield. It's about an hour and a half straight west of Indy. We decided to go through town and see where we ended up. I've been doing a lot of that recently. Let's turn here and see where this road goes. Amazing the things you discover when you're exploring your own city! Once we hit the west side of Indy, we headed toward the most direct route to Mansfield. The weather was chilly and rainy. We really didn't notice. It was so wonderful to not be in the office!
The morels are sold at auction. That's the only way you can buy them in Mansfield. Some friends wanted us to buy some for them too. So we wound up with about five pounds of morels. That's a lot of good eating there, my friends. It's fun to watch the others at the auction. Some of them come in to buy just a pound or two and others buy as many as we did.
From Mansfield we decided to once again take the road less traveled. We turned onto the county road and were greeted by a sign that said, "Dangerous curves next six miles." Ok, we'd be able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. And, odds were good we'd not have some idiot on our tail wanting us to go faster. In fact for the entire six miles only one person came up behind us. Connie pulled over and let him pass and we continued wending our way through the lovely woods and fields.
Next destination, Cox's Garden Center. Great selection and great prices. We bought flowers for Mom's pots and for ours. And, we bought some more tomatoes and peppers and herbs for our garden. Best of all, they had a scale we could use. We weighed our mushroom haul :-)
The car was stuffed and we were tired puppies. But, we still had four stops to make. Back to Indy and north to Mom's. A little bag of morels for her dinner. Our reward was an ear to ear grin. That was the best part of the day. The big box of packing paper was dropped off as well as a flat of flowers. Now, we had room to run to Trader Joes and Sams. Mission accomplished. One more stop. Girls Night Out. We'd planned on gettting back into town about 3:30 so we could empty the car and clean up and maybe rest a bit before meeting the GNO crew for dinner. That didn't happen. So, we stopped by and said hi to the crew and headed home for a nice, simple dinner. We'd not been home for dinner for almost a week. It was time.
Scallops with lemon caper sauce. Sauteed morels. Asparagus with citrus caper aioli. And, mashed potato cakes. Accompanied by a lovely bottle of Foghead Sauvignon Blanc.
Let's start with the mashed potato cakes. They started with about 2/3 of a cup of leftovers from a dinner out last week. I mixed in a drizzle of white truffle oil, a bit of grated parmesan and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Then, I made pancakes out of them and smooshed those into a mixture of panko and grated parmesan. The pancakes were then fried in a bit of olive oil. They were wonderfully crispy and flavorful.
On to the morels. Butter. The only way to go. Just plain butter. A lot of folks batter them then fry them. Not us. Just plain butter is perfect.
The scallops were magnificent. The recipe came from a Rachael Ray magazine's quick section. They were indeed quick. If good scallops were more affordable, I'd have these regularly!
Last, but not least, the asparagus. A recipe from one of my favorite chefs - Cat Cora. This was published in Coastal Living. I added a bit of orange juice to the aioli and wished I'd added more. The citrus flavor was so delicate as to be barely discernable. But, the sauce was still fabulous. I didn't want to take the time to grill the asparagus as the recipe called for but will next time I make this.
Ahhhh, a lovely day indeed. Now, it's back to reality and the office...
Scallops with Lemon Caper Sauce
10 large scallops
5 T butter
1 T capers
2 T chopped parsley
Prepare the lemon. You'll want half of it peeled, seeded and sectioned then chopped. The other half is juiced. Pat the scallops dry. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a skillet. When the butter is hot, add the scallops.
Cook 2-3 minutes per side. You want to get them nice and brown but not overdone. When the scallops are done remove them and keep them warm. Add the rest of the butter to the skillet. Get it nice and brown.
Add the other ingredients and stir well.
Serve the scallops with the sauce drizzled over them.
Asparagus with Citrus Caper Aioli
1 1/2 lbs asparagus
1 large garlic clove
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 c olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T capers
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
In the bowl of a blender, add the egg, garlic and lemon. Puree. Slowly pour in the olive oil until it thickens. Pour the aioli into a bowl
and add the capers and crushed red pepper. Serve over grilled or steamed asparagus.