Friday, February 12, 2016

My family understands that I don't use actual recipes for my cooking. I use ingredient lists and comments and notes at best with a foundation of cooking principles learned over the years mostly from my mother and grandmother. I've tried to put more standardized recipes together for posting here to make it easier for you but thinking about that lately I decided that it would be more useful long term to switch back and pass family cooking customs and principles along to you instead. I've always liked the tradition of cooking with family and friends and passing along a body of common knowledge. I hope you find this useful and feel comfortable asking questions as well as adding your part to the greater whole.

Cheese baked stuffed mushrooms

Our current favorite starter or light lunch. Quick and simple to make, perfect when you need something hot and savory. Also pretty good for using up bits and pieces of stuff lingering in the fridge. Very easy to increase the number of servings.

This serves 2.

2 large flat mushrooms - size should be proportionate to your appetite. We find the huge portobello mushrooms are too big for us lately so we switched to plain field mushrooms.

Unsalted butter - I use unsalted butter for all my cooking and just add salt to taste if needed later in the process

Olive oil - extra virgin olive oil - we're currently favoring Portuguese olive oil.

Fresh thyme leaves - fresh tarragon if you have any - dried herbs are sort of pointless here

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Panko bread crumbs

Cheese - crumbled or shredded - Lately I've been using cheddar for me and stilton for Alan. Use what you like or have around, this is very flexible.

1/2 onion

Garlic cloves, minced

Shallow crockery baking dish
Small saute/frying pan
Medium size chef's knife - make sure it's well sharpened - I keep a knife sharpener on my prep counter so I can give my knives a few strokes to touch up the edge before I begin prep.

1  start your oven pre-heating to 175 C/350 F (fan oven) 

2  drizzle a little oil in the baking dish
remove the stems from the mushrooms and set aside
put the mushrooms in the baking dish open side up
put a generous knob of butter in the mushroom cavity
sprinkle in a few thyme leaves
as soon as the oven reaches temp put the dish in and bake for 10 minutes
Please use a timer with a loud annoying beep

*This is the preliminary bake. It ensures that you end up with a soft mushroom that's cooked all the way through before you put the topping on to melt.

3   while the mushrooms are baking, start preparing your layers of filling -
finely dice the mushroom stems
finely dice onion
If you have tarragon chop a few leaves now
roughly mince the garlic clove

Heat the saute pan, toss in butter to melt
Toss in the minced mushroom and onion and saute until translucent
add in the minced garlic, chopped tarragon, sprinkle in thyme leaves
add salt and pepper to taste - yes, TASTE IT and add more as needed
When it's all soft and translucent and smells insanely yummy, turn off the heat and set the pan aside

4   When the timer beeps remove the baking dish from the oven
Spoon the sauteed filling evenly into the 2 mushroom cavities
Sprinkle or crumble in a generous layer of cheese
Sprinkle panko over the cheese and drizzle olive oil over all
Sprinkle a bit of sea salt crystals and black pepper over the olive oil in the bottom of the baking dish (add a bit more oil to the bottom of the dish if needed)

5 Put the baking dish back into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes
Make sure to set the timer!

While the mushrooms are baking -
set the table
warm the plates if you like
slice some bread - a baguette or crusty loaf
get out the butter of your choice for table use
* Heat some soup or toss some green salad if you are having the mushrooms as part of a lunch/light meal

At the 20 minute mark when the timer beeps - turn off the oven and take the baking dish out
Place the mushrooms on plates and serve
Either bring the baking dish to the table so you can dip your bread into the hot pan juices/olive oil mix - or spoon some of the pan juices over the mushrooms.

* I know this may look like a lot of fussy complicated work but that's only because I'm trying to pass along all the details to you. Once you have made this you'll realize how fast and easy it actually is. And of course, you'll adjust what you do to your taste and convenience.

Let me know if you try making this - whether you liked it and how you customized it, etc.

Btw you can use small mushrooms and make trays of this for vegetarian party nibbles or starter course.