Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday: Springtime feast

Sauteed pom pom mushroom and roasted asparagus over couscous.

"Pom pom" mushrooms, technically the hericium species, are a cultivated variety also known as bear's head or Pompon Blanc. These little creatures are truly bizarre: instead of having gills like many other mushrooms, they are spongy globes covered all over with a layer of downy "fingers," giving them a texture (and capacity for absorption) reminiscent of terrycloth:

Roving herd of pom poms

The mushroom man advised us that the pom pom's flavor is similar to that of lobster or other shellfish, and that they're substitutable for the fish in seafood recipes. We elected to do a simple sautee in butter for our first try. Our only advice after our first pom pom experience: don't rinse them first. We did, and they seemed to remain a little waterlogged even after we tried to drain them.

We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention that this was our first asparagus of the year! One of our favorite treatments for asparagus is a simple roasting in the oven at 450F with a little olive oil and salt. If they're good quality and fresh, that's really all they need.

For dessert, in keeping with the springtime theme we cooked up a little stewed rhubarb:

I'm melting! What a world, what a world...

We just sliced it thinly and then simmered with a very small amount of water and a good amount of sugar. It was tasty on yogurt, though some worthy alternate serving suggestions are to use it as a topping for pancakes, crepes or ice cream...

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