These two recipes come from Stephen Raichlen. Pears poached in red wine is a classic French dessert. The twist in this recipe is the addition of cre`me de cassis.
Morels are the king of mushrooms -- honey-combed cones with a pungent, smoky flavor. If fresh ones are unavailable, use rehydrated dried morels. The morel soup was adapted from a recipe by Annette Maleson.
4 ripe pears
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups cre`me de cassis (black currant liqueur)
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips lemon or orange zest
Peel the pears, cut in half lengthwise, and core. Rub with cut lemon to prevent discoloring.
Combine wine, cre`me de cassis, sugar, spices and lemon peel in a wide saucepan and bring to a boil. Add pears, cut-side down. Cover pan, and gently simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until very tender. (They should be easily pierced with a toothpick or skewer.) Transfer pears to a cake rack over a plate to cool. Boil poaching liquid until 1 1/2 cups remain. Strain liquid and chill.
Place the pear halves, cut-side down, on a cutting board. Using a paring knife and starting at the wide end of the pear, make a series of parallel longitudinal cuts almost to the stem end. Do not cut all the way through: the slices must be attached at one end. Gently flatten each pear with the palm of your hand to fan out the slices.
To serve, spoon 3 tablespoons sauce on each of 8 dessert plates. Place a fanned-out pear in the center. Pipe a rosette of whipped cream on the narrow end of each pear and garnish with a mint leaf.
Per serving: 340 calories, .6 gm protein, 50 gm carbohydrates, 1 gm fat, .5 gm saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 46 mg sodium.
STUFFED MOREL SOUP
12 large morels (the holes in the bottom should be large enough to accommodate a 1/4-inch piping tip)
FOR THE STUFFING:
1/4 cup matzo meal
1 egg, beaten
2 to 3 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs, including chives or scallions, thyme, parsley, and/or chervil
Tiny pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 quart well-flavored chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter or chicken fat
Trim any tough parts off base of mushroom stems, and gently wipe off dirt with a damp sponge. Combine ingredients for stuffing and mix with a wooden spoon. Add enough water to make a thick paste. Season mixture to taste. Using a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip, pipe filling into mushrooms through hollow stems. Heat chicken broth.
Just before serving, melt the butter over a low heat in a frying pan. Cook the morels, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender, turning with a wooden spoon. Add the morels with the pan juices to the broth. Correct the seasoning and serve at once.
Per serving: 136 calories, 8 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 4 gm saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 898 mg sodium.