There’s nothing the Practical Cook loves more than potential. When a new day dawns in the kitchen, and your best laid plans go awry, flexibility with your ingredients is key. Mushrooms are both varied and flexible, and I love them dearly. If you are a fungi-phobe, this is probably not the post for you (looking at you Complicated Vegetarian).
For everyone else, mushrooms can serve innumerable roles in a meal. They are rumored to be full of umami, and heighten the flavor profile of otherwise simple dishes. If you are feeding people who prefer strong flavors, they also match nicely with bold seasoning, like rosemary, feta, red wine, and so forth.
Highly recommend keeping a few in the fridge for weekly use. Start with the button mushroom and expand your repertoire as you go. Here are three ways I like to use mushrooms: appetizer, seasoning, ingredient.
Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe
This recipe provides guidelines, but is endlessly variable. Change the cheese to goat, swap in some parsley for the scallions, go crazy. If you add crab, don’t invite me over. And apologies for the lack of pictures—they get eaten too quickly for me to ever snap one.
1 lb button mushrooms, stems removed (and reserved in the freezer for future veggie stock) and wiped clean
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
3 to 4 ozs of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 or 3 scallions, sliced and diced
2 to 4 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs (use Panko, commercial, make your own by shoving the heel of a loaf in the food processor and toasting, anything will do here)
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme or oregano (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place prepped mushrooms on a baking sheet.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, and feta. Combine thoroughly, adjusting amounts to suit your personal taste (more feta = more flavor, more butter = more moisture = more bread crumb potential).
3. Gently fold in scallions and bread crumbs, adding the bread crumbs slowly to see how much your cheese mixture will absorb. Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings to personal preference.
4. Stuff some cheese mixture into each prepared mushroom cap. Drizzle with olive oil, and bake until mushrooms exude some juice and the filling is browned, at least 30 minutes.
5. Serve warm or room temperature.
Mushrooms as a Seasoning
1. Pour mushrooms into food processor fitted with standard blade.
2. Pulverize until the mushrooms are powder. Store powder in a tightly sealed container in a cool dry place.
Practical Uses: Add a teaspoon to your hamburgers. Sprinkle them on your steaks. Add to your risotto. Slip into your spaghetti sauce.
Mushrooms as an Ingredient: Pork Noodle Soup
This one’s a teaser, you’ll have to tune in next week for the stunning conclusion of the trinity, which will include the “recipe” for Pork Noodle Soup. But here’s a picture.
Siracha optional, but recommended.
Join us tomorrow for a guide to shopping at Trader Joe’s (or similar specialty stores): how to get the most out of your shopping extravaganza.