Fettuccine with Fresh Morels

This is a variation of the classic Fettuccine Alfredo, without egg yolk but with the addition of one of nature's great gifts: the morel. These hollow phallic mushrooms grow wild from late April to early May, and are very rare. They are more easily found dried in specialty food shops - expensive but worth every penny.

12 oz. fresh fettuccine*     2 T. sweet butter     1 pint heavy cream      10-12 small morels**
   cup freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano      2 T. salt 1       T. toasted pine nuts (opt.)

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to boil in a covered 8-quart pot. While waiting for it to boil, reduce the cream by half in a small saucepan over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL. Slice the morels into thin rounds. When water for the pasta comes to a boil, add morels to the cream.

Put the fettuccine into the boiling water. Cook for 3-4 minutes then drain in a colander. Return pasta to the pot, quickly add the butter cut into small pieces and toss until coated. Add the cream and Parmesan; stir well. If sauce is too thick add a little more cream, but the pasta must not swim in sauce. Top with lightly toasted pine nuts if desired. (Serves 4)

*If dried fettuccine is used, increase the cooking time to 8-10 minutes.

**If dried morels are used, soak them 10-15 minutes in enough warm water to barely cover. Remove them and drain on paper towels. Reserve the water for another use such as stocks or sauces. It will add an undesirable gray color to the cream.