When we think of morels, we think of Fricassée de volaille de Bresse aux Morilles. We grew up just ten miles north of Paul Bocuse's restaurant, near the Pont de Collonges, a place that is world renowned for Bresse chicken in cream sauce with morels. Bocuse is the grandmaster of Cuisine Lyonnaise, after all. But we're in Los Angeles now, and the classic rich and hearty dishes of Lyon sometimes look like fussily plated potential heart attacks. We'll save a fricassée recipe for the winter months, when a rich sauce invigorates the soul and an extra layer of body fat will help us stay warm.

Today, we made pasta in a light cream sauce with sautéed morel mushrooms and a cherry frangipane galette, both inspired by Felicia Friesema's recent Market Report. Turn the page for the recipes.

Pasta in Light Cream Sauce with Sauteed Morels

Notes: Yes, France does have a small repertoire of pasta dishes. Of course, being French there are extra steps involved in the saucing, such as sautéing the morels separately and adding them as a garnish on top of the pasta. It's worth the extra step for textural contrast and perfectly cooked morels, they are expensive after all. If morels are out of your budget, enjoy this recipe with button mushrooms, but tell your friends that you used Champignon de Paris (yes, these are plain white button mushrooms). A sauce like this begs for fresh pasta, so if you like making your own or have a source for good fresh pasta, by all means use it. Otherwise, dried tagliatelle is fine: we like DeCecco and Barilla brands. If you can find vin jaune use it, otherwise we recommend a more commonly available semi-sweet Riesling. We've found premium brands of crema fresca to be as good as crème fraîche in France, for about half the price of “artisanal” sour cream. So, if you live near a Hispanic market, look for crema frescas from local companies packed in deli cups or in bulk.

Makes: 4-6 servings

1 pound dried tagliatelle pasta, slightly undercooked, rinsed and drained well

For the sautéed morels:

1 tablespoon butter

1 small shallot, finely diced

2-3 morels per serving, cleaned and sliced into thirds lengthwise

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add shallots, season with salt and pepper, saute for 2-3 minutes, add morels, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3-5 minutes or until tender.

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium shallot, finely diced

1 cup wine

2 tablespoons crème fraîche

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil a large saute pan over medium high heat, add shallots, season with salt and pepper, saute for 2-3 minutes, add wine, and cook until wine has reduced by half, add crème fraîche, stir, add more salt and pepper if desired, and heat through.

2. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, toss to coat evenly with sauce, cook for about 2 minutes to heat through and finish cooking the pasta. Taste, add more salt and pepper if desired. Transfer to a serving platter and top with hot sautéed morels.

Chef Kristin Ferguson's Cherry Frangipane Galette; Credit: Eugene Ahn of Forage Restaurant in Silver Lake

Chef Kristin Ferguson's Cherry Frangipane Galette; Credit: Eugene Ahn of Forage Restaurant in Silver Lake

Cherry Frangipane Galette

From: Kristin Ferguson, pastry chef at Forage in Silver Lake and pastry instructor at Ecole de Cuisine.

Notes: This recipe is almost as fast as Sandra Lee's cherry pie with a lattice crust, but our cherry tart actually tastes good since it's made with real ingredients. Try the tart with plums, apricots or apriums. The recipe for the frangipane filling makes enough for several tarts, but it keeps well covered in the refrigerator.

Makes: 1 galette

Frangipane filling:

8 oz. almond paste

2 Tbs. sugar

4 oz. butter

2 eggs

1 Tbs. Rum (optional)

1 tap. vanilla

3 Tbs. flour

1. Add the almond paste and sugar to a bowl, mix with a wooden spoon, then add the butter and cream mix until smooth.

2. Whisk the eggs together and drizzle a third of it into the almond mixture, stir, make sure the egg is absorbed into the almond mixture before adding another third of the eggs, stir, add the remaining egg and stir to thoroughly incorporate the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly. Chill until ready to use.

Cherry filling:

Notes: Use a cherry pitter. Or, leave the pits in and tell your family and friends that's how it's done in France because the pits add even more almond flavor to the galette.

Approximately 1 lb fresh cherries, pitted

2 Tbs honey

1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthways and scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling


1 lb. Prepared pastry sheet

Egg wash (1 egg, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of water mixed in)

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Roll the pastry into a large circle about 1/8″ thick. Chill the rolled out dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for ten minutes to firm up the dough.

2. Smear about three-quarters of a cup of frangipane over the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2″ border around the edge. Brush this border with egg wash.

3. Scatter the cherries over the frangipane in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar.

4. Heat the honey with the vanilla bean seeds and pod until warm and fluid (or use vanilla extract) Brush the cherries with half the vanilla honey.

5. Fold the edges of the pastry up around the filling, pressing the folds together firmly so they don't splay apart during baking. Brush the edges with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and place the tart in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so to firm up. Bake until the pastry is deep golden brown, approximately 20-25 minutes, so start checking your oven at the 20 minute mark. While the tart is still hot, brush the cherries and the pastry with the rest of the honey.

Farid Zadi is the Dean of Culinary Arts at Ecole de Cuisine. You can follow him on twitter or join him on Facebook.

LA Weekly