Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stuffed Mushrooms

Let me tell you a little about Enid Blyton's books. She wrote about ten-year-olds who went on fantastic adventures and always (but always!) single-handedly captured the smugglers, with the help of clever stratagems, coordination with friends, incredible luck, and, of course, faithful dog Timmy (I still want a delightful perfect dog like Timmy who listens every time and understands me as if he were human!). She wrote about dolls that came alive and wreaked havoc in the nursery. She wrote about sea horses racing to the shore. She wrote about secret clubs (with passwords!) and picnics galore.

The picnics would make you drool. I don't know how, but she managed to make plain ol' tomatoes sound mouth wateringly delicious. I mean, honestly, you could be about to sit down to a seven course feast, but reading about George and Ann tucking into a tomato sandwich would make you want to leave the table immediately.

And she wrote about fairies. Fairies that lived at the bottom of the garden. Fairies that lived in a magical tree. Fairies who had parties and used toadstools as little stools! 

Enid Blyton taught me many things, including the value of honor, of bravery, of truth, of being an upstanding moral character. Amongst the vast variety of things she taught me, she taught me this: toadstools are pretty but dangerous; mushrooms are not so pretty but edible and delicious.

I think she also tried to teach me racism and sexism, but thankfully those didn't make too much of an impression. We'll chalk it down to writing in the first half of the 20th century, shall we?

To this day I wish I had my own little island to which I could retreat.

And someday I hope to turn a smuggler in to the police and collect my reward (a beautiful little boat, of course!). It might entail spending an evening in a cave. Maybe a caravan adventure too.

Until then, I'll hang on to the lessons of old and know: beware the pretty toadstool! Besides, you're probably eating a little fairy's party seat, for which of course you would deserve a stomach ache.

Good ol' mushrooms, though? They're A-okay!

Stuffed Mushrooms

(makes 6 stuffed mushroom caps + extra stuffing - serves 2 for dinner)


For the mushroom caps

6 large white mushroom caps (hollowed out)
Butter for greasing
Salt and pepper to taste

For the stuffing
1/4 lb ground beef
1/2 small red onion (chopped finely)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp herbes de provence
Salt to taste

For the topping
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil


Line a pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with a little butter. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth to clean. Place the hollowed out mushroom caps (take out any portion of the stem) stem side up in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and a little freshly ground pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

While the oven is heating, prepare the stuffing and topping.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil. When the oil is hot, add in the finely chopped onion and saute until brown. Add in the minced garlic clove and saute until golden brown. Add in the ground beef and stir to mix with the onion and garlic.

Sprinkle salt and herbes de provence on the beef and saute until it is nicely browned. Turn off the heat when the meat is cooked through.

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients of the topping and set aside. 

Spoon the cooked ground beef mixture into the waiting mushroom caps (about 2 tsp of filling for each cap) and top with the cheese and bread crumb mixture (about 1 tsp per cap). Pop the mushroom caps into the oven and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. The cheese topping should be golden brown and the mushrooms nice and tender. 

Serve warm.

You will have some filling and some topping left over. Turn the heat on again under the beef and add in the cheese and panko crumb mixture. Stir to combine and heat through. Serve with the stuffed mushroom caps - this filling gets all crunchy and melty from the cheese and makes a delicious base on which to serve the mushrooms! It would also go great in a melty grilled cheese sandwich for lunch the next day.

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