Sunday, April 12, 2009


Today my father gave me a bag of morel mushrooms which he had gathered on one of his farms. These are a delicious spring treat, and can be quite plentiful in Tennessee if you know where to look. Morels should not be eaten raw. Locally, they are usually split in half, battered or breaded, and then shallow-fried in oil or melted margarine.

As with all wild mushrooms, if you aren't extremely familiar with what you are seeking, start by accompanying someone who is or locating an experienced mushroom-hunting group. Mushroom identification is hard to learn from books, even very good books, and personal instruction is the safest way.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Returns: Soy Curls & Pear Salad

After a last (hopefully!) bout of winter weather, spring is shining bright today. Recently on Facebook, a longtime friend from school days reminded of a chicken salad I used to make, pregan. It's a Jane Brody recipe that I clipped back in the 80s, and kept all these years because it is delicious. I think it appears in her Good Food Gourmet. It translates really well to a vegan rendition, as you can use the poaching liquid to rehydrate the soy curls.

1/2 package Butler's Soy Curls

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 t salt

1 T raspberry vinegar (for that 80s taste) or rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 t dried tarragon

1/4 t black pepper

1/3 cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 1/2 t sugar

1/4 t salt

3-4 large Bosc or Anjou pears

lettuce (Jane says red leaf, but I don't think I've ever done that)

chopped mint (she says 3 T - I probably put more)

Combine the water, salt, raspberry vinegar, tarragon, and black pepper. Rehydrate the soy curls according to package directions. (Today I used maybe 2/3 of the package, so I doubled the soaking liquid, as I was afraid it wouldn't be enough.) Drain really well. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (or just use seasoned sushi vinegar if you have it). Peel and slice the pears, and chop the mint. Combine soy curls, mint, pears, dressing, and lettuce.

It's a wonderfully fresh warm-weather dinner - try it!