11.01.2009

Savory Sides

I've never met a mushroom I didn't love- but especially morels. This mushroom in particular reminds me of many fun days during my Michigan childhood. When we were young, dad knew exactly where to find morels in the spring- under some apple trees in a V E R Y secret location across the St. Clair River and down a canal. We'd take a boat over and forage to our heart's delight. I've heard that morels change location from year to year, but we never failed to find them in this special orchard. If you've never tasted one, wild morels have a great flavor complexity- meaty, nutty, smokey but it is the earth that gives the depth of flavor to morels. When we arrived home with a basketful Mother used to lightly flour them and fry them in butter. A lunch to dream for... and I have- often. If you're  traveling some back roads in Michigan, you might see morels at a few roadside stands in the spring. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. If you are really lucky, you have an aunt and uncle who live near Charlevoix and they will save you a small basket when they return from foraging!



When my daughter lived in Paris, there was a market near her apartment called marché rue de Buci and in the spring they sold the most enormous morels I've ever laid eyes on. I was in shroom heaven.
Now that I live in Florida, the days of fresh morels are as good as over. If my market ever gets them in the spring (and sometimes they do) they are prohibitive in price. All that's left of morel foraging are wonderful memories...rarely do I ever visit Michigan in the spring.  If you want to splurge you can buy them dried but you'll still have to shell out some bucks. I can't resist so I usually have some dried morels stashed in the pantry; they are ambrosial in a simple omelet. I also love to make this mushroom bread pudding dish for the holidays and while YOU don't need morels in this dish, I do.

You'll find this dish a great main-course option for vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table and I serve it as a side dish with my turkey or chicken- or anything I happen to be serving. It's almost like a stuffing, except a little more custardy. It's also another of my make-ahead dishes: it has to sit overnight in the fridge. Love that! If you want it to taste a little more like stuffing, you can add onion instead of shallots, celery and some sage. Personally I prefer the milder flavor of the shallot so as not to overpower the mushrooms. I usually don't sprinkle parmesan on it either, but had a small piece left in the fridge so I grated it on top. I liked this addition but it's your choice.

For my mushroom assortment I combined reconstituted morels, fresh chanterelles, cremini, shiitake (no stems) and some button mushrooms. (Use the woody stems of the shiitake when you make the mushroom broth)



 In making the broth I used some button mushrooms, some stems of the chanterelles, cremini and shiitake. With most breads I take the crust off but if I'm using brioche bread,  I leave it on. I usually make this in a round glass casserole dish but here I made it in a 9" by 13" by 2" baking dish. Resulting in a lot of crunchy topping!

Mushroom Bread Pudding




Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups mushroom stock
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2  cups half and half or whole milk
6  eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
4 heaping cups shiitake, morel or chantarelle mushrooms
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 loaf challah (or any bread of your choice)

Method:

Make the mushroom stock:
Boil some chopped button mushrooms in 3 or 4 cups of water to make a stock- include the stems of the shiitake and any leftover mushrooms. Simmer them for about an hour. Remove the mushrooms and discard. Reduce this stock until it measures 3/4 cup. You may freeze the stock at this point.

When ready to make the dish, add heavy cream to the stock and reduce again until you have 1 1/2 cups total.

Whisk half and half, eggs,  salt to taste and add the stock mixture; set aside. Melt butter, add shallots, garlic and thyme and saute 5 minutes.  If you're adding celery, add it here. Add sliced mushrooms and saute 10 minutes. Season with  salt and pepper to taste. 




If your bread has a firm crust, cut the crusts off. Tear the bread into large pieces and place in a 350° oven until lightly browned.




Line the bottom of baking dish with chunks or slices of challah, put in half the mushroom mixture, then layer more bread, then mushrooms, ending with bread. Pour stock mixture evenly over everything. Press down slightly so that all the bread gets covered with the stock. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.



Cover with foil and bake in a 350° oven for 2 hours.  Uncover the last 3/4 hour to get a crunchy crust.



Serves about 10 as a side dish.

53 comments:

  1. Unfortunately I have never had a morel (and don't have any aunts and uncles in special places ;)), but I love mushrooms too. These looks like a really beautiful dish.

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  2. This sounds like a great side dish for thanksgiving--for veggie and meat eater alike! I have never had wild, fresh morels--lucky you. I'm bookmarking this recipe.

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  3. i just do not like mushrooms! but i love savory bread puddings, so i'm sure i could pop something else in there :D

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  4. I've never had a morel either, but from your description of their flavor, sounds like I've been missing out! I will have to check my local markets and see if they are available here. Your recipe sounds divine and one that I will difinitely try.

    Love and hugs,
    Karyn

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  5. I love mushrooms, but I have never tried a morel. Never seen them fresh around here! But I bet this would be good with other mushrooms, too.

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  6. I absolutely love mushrooms too!! Love this mushroom bread pudding. It's a really unique & wonderful idea. The morels mushrooms are new to me. Have not seen them before & definitely not a variety we can get here. I thought they look somewhat like dried up sea corals. :)

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  7. Wow, I'm loving this savory bread pudding, so good with morels! Excellent side dish!

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  8. Sadly I've never had morels! But I really love mushrooms, and the way you described their flavor is incredible! I'll look for them at my farmer's market in the spring!

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  9. Bread pudding with mushroom sound really delicious Debbie.

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  10. Love morels! I used to go hunting for them...but never made bread pudding. This looks fantastic!!!

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  11. I adore mushrooms, and I adore bread pudding/ stuffings...yum!

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  12. I love mushrooms, but I have never even thought about putting them into pudding! Excellent idea to try!

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  13. fabulous Idea! I love mushrooms!! what a great twist on stuffing!

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  14. I so wish I liked mushrooms! You can do so much with them. Great dishes!

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  15. I have never seen morels before. They are so cute! They sound yummy too.

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  16. Oh my...I love, love, love mushrooms...Morels, chanterelles, enoki...you name it. This recipe looks so great I think I may just make it tonight. Thank you kindly for sharing...I'm de-luking to say I think your blog is great!

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  17. I grew up in Illinois, and my Dad and uncle used to go mushroom foraging in the spring. I miss fresh morels! These days, like you, I get by with the dried variety. Your bread pudding looks fantastic.

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  18. That dish is to die for! They have learned to grow Morels commercially- but at a steep price tag! We used to get a handful every year out of our own back yard (G.R. MI)..where a dead tree was removed.. I like the Black Morel more than the more plentiful White- stronger flavor! Nobody tells where they found a patch!!!! We a part owners of a lodge and 160 acres of land up North where they can be found, but moisture levels, temps., and good timing all are needed!

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  19. One of my best friends goes around and picks wild mushrooms, good thing he can identify them, I surely could not.

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  20. Ooh, yum! I don't think there's anything in here I don't like. Sounds like a great dish any time of the year, but particularly in mushroom season. Fresh morels are a treat!

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  21. I love mushrooms, I love bread pudding! You used a great combo of mushrooms! Copying this one, it looks fantastic!

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  22. Oh sweet Mary, that looks delicious. We have a cabin on one of the gulf islands here in BC, and there are always morels popping up. I'm always tempted to pick them, but I don't because I'm a chicken. I'm making this dish first chance I get!! thanks.

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  23. Hi Barbara,

    I love any sort of mushroom and fungi.
    that recipe sounds great and only this morning I made breadcrumbs out of a day old French loaf.
    I could have tried this if I had the recipe earlier.

    many thanks for visiting me
    Happy November and have a great week
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  24. Yum, I would have never thought of that in a million years. Super clever

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  25. HH, Karyn, Faith and Hungry: keep your eyes open- bet someone has morels in the spring where you are.

    Heather and Erica: I have a son who doesn't like them either!

    Deborah and Petite: it's good with all kinds of mushrooms!

    Lisa: a woman after my own heart!

    Buffalodick: we had a lodge over on Saginaw Bay. No morels there unfortunately. (patches are a big secret in every family!)

    Carolyn: Sorry I didn't post it soon enough!

    Heather: lucky girl!!

    Lisa: great memories!

    Love all your enthusiastic comments! It really is a good recipe! Thanks!

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  26. Mmmmm, I love mushrooms too! They are one of my favourite foods!

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  27. This is awesome. It's definitely into my 'to try' folder.

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  28. Oh mushrooms! How I love them! I need to save this recipe. Just beautiful.

    P.S. I saw your response to my minestrone soup. I live in North Florida and the weather is pretty cool today. High in the mid 60's-Definitely soup time! I will save a bowl for you. :-)

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  29. omg...that looks incredible!! I've never had (or seen in person) a morel...wish I did so I could make this.

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  30. I dream of big baskets of morels - the back story was real nice and this bread pudding looks great

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  31. I love, love, love mushrooms.
    I've never had morels though, they do sound wonderful. If they grow in Michigan, they surely grow in Ontario - I wonder why I never see them here.
    The savoury bread pudding looks great!

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  32. Ours is just west of Tustin, between Reed City and Cadillac

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  33. Every year I hope to stumble upon them in the wooded areas of our property but never have. I have found puff balls, though.

    Your bread pudding sounds wonderful. I'm taking a copy of the recipe home ;)

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  34. i've never met a mushroom i didn't like either! looking forward to trying this bread pudding! thank u!

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  35. Oh man, does that ever look fabulous! Love a savory bread pudding - yum.

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  36. Oh! The mixed mushrooms look so yummie, what a great idea...I love mushrooms, what a great treat!

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  37. Fantastic bread pudding! All I would need is a glass of wine for a fabulous meal.
    Mimi

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  38. so you've never come across a mushroom you didn't like? i've never met one that tasted good to me. i suppose you and i are balancing out the mushroom population. :)

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  39. Velva: we're supposed to get slightly cooler tonight--I hope.

    Danielle: you don't need to use morels- any mushroom will work.

    Natashya and Susan: look especially in an apple orchard near the trunks. Only in the spring.

    Mimi: a glass of wine sounds good!

    Grace: your comment made me laugh out loud! We can't agree on everything, can we? It would be BORING. ;)

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  40. I love mushrooms, and I think this dish looks absolutely wonderful. I have tried all the mushrooms you've mentioned here except morels, I definitely need to get my hands on some as I can tell I will like them. :) Thanks for the great recipe/idea!

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  41. Ladybug + bumbleebee= bug love. :)

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  42. oh my goodness, this looks amazing! i would never think to have a savory bread pudding with mushrooms, brilliant!

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  43. I never knew I liked mushrooms so much until I got married and my husband cooked them for me in ways I really enjoyed! Great photos!

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  44. This looks like a great Thanksgiving vegetarian option! I'm going to pass it on to friends!

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  45. I just love mushrooms and will look this weekend for some morels. I know that market in Paris too - so amazing. Thanks for a really tasty and inspiring vegetarian dish; perfect for cooler days too and so comforting.

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  46. You certainly brought back memories. Growing up in Iowa, we also did the spring foraging of morels. Each family had their secret place which they took to the grave with them. I remember the taste so well; but, alas, it is just a memory. I am never in the right place at the right time anymore. Thank you for the memories.

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  47. That's a great idea! I love mushrooms and can see this working wonderfully!

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  48. Duck: bug love sounds good ;)

    Vanessa: we NEVER get morels that size in the US!

    Susan: I miss foraging too! But I'm pleased it brought back good memories!

    TKW and Vanessa: yes, it's a great vegetarian dish!

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  49. I second the fall cooking motion.

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  50. I love mushrooms and bread pudding! what a great combo!

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  51. I've never met a bread pudding I didn't like - can't wait to try!

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  52. I've never seen a morel before! They look interesting and the bread pudding looks amazing too.yum....

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  53. Okay, I am OBSESSED with mushrooms, definitely trying this recipe out - just not on my mom or aunt! (they don't like mushrooms - I think I got my taste for them because they put them all on my plate!)

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