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Morels

from Ursula Hoffmann and Sandy Sheine

Dried morels are as good as fresh ones, if not better when reconstituted in half water, half dry white wine. If  they are yours, washed before drying, use just enough liquid to cover them. If  not, they may be sandy; use more liquid, swish them around and let the sand settle in the bottom of the container; when rehydrated, fish out the morels and use most of the liquid but discard the sandy rest.

For a main course (that includes a big salad), allow about 4 good sized esculenta per person.
Over low heat, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (1 tbs per person), add finely chopped shallots (half a big shallot per person), and sweat not brown them in the butter.
If using fresh morels: Vertically slice each morel in half, remove all slugs, rinse each piece under running water, removing brown and soft spots with your fingernail, then put it into a strainer. Then cut all halves into 3 or 4 parts horizontally and put them into the saucepan. Some water will cling to them, and they will release more when heating. Add some white wine but not enough to cover the mushrooms. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover the pot.
If using dried rehydrated morels, add the morels to the saucepan. If you have a lot of liquid, boil it down in a second saucepan until you have just enough to almost cover the morels, then add it to the morels. Bring to a slow simmer. Cover the pot.
After 10 minutes or so, uncover the pot. If there is a lot of  liquid, reduce it by simmering, uncovered, for another 5 minutes.
Then add heavy cream, about a quarter cup for each two servings. Add salt, up to 1 tbs of cognac, a bit of nutmeg. Simmer to thicken the cream.
Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Photographed by Gerry Sheine, May 19, 2005 -- we collected, cleaned and washed, and ate....