Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A new approach

Rather than to continue boring you to death with what I ate for breakfast last Tuesday, I think I'll shift this journal to a more encyclopedic approach. To be fair, there are days where I just eat leftovers and salads. How boring. So, I'll take a topic (today's happens to be mushrooms) & expand on it until I'm totally out of ideas. Sound good? Okay.

What we recognize as a mushroom is actually the fruit of a fungus. While off-putting in description, the deep, earthy flavor of a mushroom is one of the most palatable. Mushrooms are a rich source of glutamic acid - the natural verson of MSG, and so they enhance the flavor of any savory food they are cooked with.
They soak up the essence of whatever they're cooked in - the thinner the slice, the more flavor that can be absorbed.

I prefer mine stuffed with spinach, onion, parmesan and garlic. Better yet, a grilled portabello cap makes for a delicious alternative to the everyday burger. Sandwiched in a whole wheat pita & topped with feta, lettuce, tomato, and an olive tappenade - it doesn't get much better in my book. My husband prefers his decorating the top of a still-mooing sirloin, drizzled in a creamy peppercorn sauce.

Common culinary belief states that mushrooms should never be washed with water. They are very porous, and washing them in water will render them soggy. Instead, mushrooms (which are now grown in pasteurized compost, NOT maneure) should be cleaned using a brush.

I find this completely annoying & unnecessarily time consuming. Not to mention, I always thought it was a load of crap.

Last year this "common knowledge" was tested. The results found that 4 ounces of button mushrooms only drink in .2 oz of water when submerged for ten minutes. .2 ounces is a little less than a teaspoon (an actual teaspoon, not what you use to eat your cereal). I don't know about you, but I don't plan on submerging my mushrooms for ten minutes, so I wouldn't worry too much about rinsing them under running water for a few moments. It's also my belief that the fibrous stem does much of the soaking... however that hasn't been proven.

Fun mushroom fact: The cell walls of mushrooms are made of chitin - which also makes up the exoskeleton of insects & crustaceans

Stuffed Mushrooms (my mother's recipe)

36 button mushrooms - cleaned & stems removed (chop the stems)
two 10 oz packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 large yellow onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced (I use 5)
1/2 cup panko
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter ( I use 3/4 stick + 1/4 cup olive oil)
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg (I've actually never used this... I guess I should use recipes more?)

Cook the onions & garlic in the fat until translucent. Add mushroom caps to coat with butter. Place the caps on a sheet pan. Add stemps, spinach, and remaining ingredients to saute pan & mix well. Stuff the caps & bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

I'm really beginning to miss bread, by the way.

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