White asparagus with creamed morels

Serves 4

We're also coming into the morel season. You do occasionally find these delicious mushrooms in the UK, but the majority originate from other parts of Europe.

If you can't find fresh morels, then dried morels are an option, although they tend to take quite a bit of cooking once they have been re-hydrated.

1kg white asparagus, about 20 or so spears
The juice of half a lemon
2tsp caster sugar
2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
A good knob of butter
250-300g fresh morels
100ml white wine
250ml double cream
1tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the woody ends off the bottom of the asparagus. With a swivel-type peeler, peel from about 2cm from the tip of the asparagus all the way down to the ends. Bring some salted water to the boil in a pan wide enough to fit the asparagus. Add the lemon juice, sugar and asparagus, simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes until tender to the point of a knife, then remove from the heat and leave the asparagus in the cooking liquid.

Halve the morels and wash in cold water; drain and spin gently in a salad spinner. Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots for a minute; add the morels and continue cooking on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring every so often. Add the white wine, turn up the heat and cook until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the cream, bring to the boil, season and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the parsley, simmer for another minute or so; re-season if necessary. Remove the asparagus from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon; drain on kitchen paper. Arrange the asparagus on warmed serving plates and spoon the morels and sauce over the asparagus.

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