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.


(8 servings)

4 ripe pears

1/2 lemon

2 cups dry red wine

2 cups cre`me de cassis (black currant liqueur)

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves

10 peppercorns

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.


(4 servings)

12 large morels (the holes in the bottom should be large enough to accommodate a 1/4-inch piping tip)


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.