Thank god for Richard Olney, whose extraordinarily delicious and deceptively simple recipes have inspired legions upon legions of meals at our home. And thank god for Adam, who had the foresight to buy morel mushrooms from Jardins Sauvages when they tempted him early one morning at the market. And thank god for the two of us, puttering around the kitchen, so we could come up with our own spin on an Olney-inspired Provençal classic: diced morels fried in butter, deglazed in cognac and cream, flavored with shallots, salt, and fresh herbs, and delicately heaped on crisp, golden toasts of milk bread. Morels are certainly a luxury item, elusive in the wild and hard on the wallet — along with truffles, the honeycomb-scaled fungus is considered the “aristocrat of the forest,” and I certainly agree — so we only splurged on a big handful of the tender, fresh specimens, hunted down in forests of northern Quebec. Fortunately, you only need the tiniest taste of morels to be completely flattened by its savory, earthy, and entirely memorable flavor.
EDIT: I feel compelled to add Adam’s much better — not to mention more accurate! — description of this mouthwatering dish. He writes:
“i discovered this dish when eating it at L’express last year. It’s part of the general French cuisine repertoire. Olney has his rendition, as do many others. Better to halve them than dice them. The essential key is to cook them at a low temperature for around ten minutes, and then turn the pan up to max, and then add shallots, thyme and cognac, then veal stock, and then cream, and turn off the heat, and wait for the cream to evaporate… then serve on toasts, add chives and parsley. And drink vosne-romanee or chassagne-montrachet. Springtime.”