The Last of Cold Weather Cooking

The temperature on the Midwest Archipelago is finally warming up. That means the days of cooking in the oven are growing short.

All the apple, pumpkin, and key lime pies, the blueberry buckles and apricot scones will all be saved for autumn and the holidays.

Soon the marinated chicken and swordfish; the big, juicy cuts of steaks; the vegetables, mushrooms and the baby heads of greens will be on the Weber.

Bruschetta; roasted red pepper salad on grilled crusty bread; cool piles of seafood salad tossed in olive oil, parsley and lemon; clams on the half shell; oysters on the half shell; and a thousand little bits of summer flavors sprinkled on top will fill our dinner table on the porch between the beer on ice and the tall bottles of white wine.

The thought of it makes me want to go back into the restaurant business so that I can cook all day long and watch happy people eat and talk.

But before this is the order of the day. I wanted stuffed mushrooms one more time.

My mushroom stuffing is a simple balance of three flavors:

  • mushroom stems, finely minced
  • good bread crumbs
  • good olive oil

DON’T use HUGE mushrooms; they take too long to cook.

Always mince the stems of the mushrooms with your chef knife. (The pile on the right.) The blade of the food processor spins way too fast to keep the integrity of the stems – unless you know something I don’t about using one.

Each large-ish mushroom uses about 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of stuffing.

Add the olive oil to the bread crumbs and minced stems a little at a time. Mix it with two forks held together, side by side. I have tried mixing this with a dozen different implements but my patent pending, two fork method is the best I have found.

The mix should have about the consistency of wet sand and look like this. Just enough oil to make it come together but still be somewhat fluffy. Don’t forget to season it.

I use a tablespoon to form the pile of filling in the cap of that forest floor delight. Make sure you lightly oil the pan you are baking them in, and leave enough room around them to get them out.

Bake uncovered in the oven at 375 – 385 F. Takes about twenty minutes. Check them often.

This is what you get when they are done.

The bread crumbs should be slightly browned and the mushrooms wrinkled around the sides.

What adult beverage is a natural pair with this?

  • An Orvieto, Sauve, or Vernaccia
  • Dry Creek Savignon Blanc is my wife’s favorite pairing
  • This will stand up to a well oaked Chardonnay too.
  • Beer-wise, anything from a lite Pilsner to a brown English ale or a dark Germany Bock beer.
  • Sparkling apple cider or a local hard cider would work too.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to say grace.

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