When my old desktop computer gave up the ghost back in February, all of my old files went with it--including some recipes from the cookbook that I like to pretend I haven't been writing. There were stories and chat with each recipe because, and it sure should be obvious by now, that's what I do. When you come from a family of storytellers as I do (don't think I've mentioned but my mother was a professional storyteller), you just have to tell stories or burst. The good news is that I still have some of those recipe/stories that I printed out and put in a binder. One of those recipes is an inspiration favorite: Not-So-Stuffy Happiness Mushrooms. I wrote this story shortly before I began this blog, and it is the true tale of how I created the recipe. And I'm gonna copy the original text for you here even though that means I've gotta type the whole thing again.
May 15, 2015
I've been working on stuffing mushrooms for awhile now and never really been happy with what I've made. I keep doing the same old tired stuffing-mix-in-the-mushroom thing, but not successfully. I've tried different methods of stuffing, different ways of treating the mushrooms, different bits and pieces added--all pretty much one disappointment after another.
But I still love the idea of stuffed mushrooms, all hot and flavorful from the oven,
Glutton for punishment, me: I saw some really pretty large (3-inch-wide caps) white mushrooms at the grocery today and thought I would give it just one more shot. I bought the inevitable boring box of stuffing mix and a few necessities, like a bag of potatoes because the sale price was too good to pass up ($2 for an 8 lb. bag) and a non-necessary container of sour cream because I really, really love that stuff--it's a rare treat, though (too expensive and doesn't go far enough to justify the price).
So on the way home in the car I was listening (well, okay, maybe kinda blasting really loudly--but the windows were rolled up so I wasn't bothering anyone with my JPop guys Arashi) to a song called Happiness:
Rather than sighing into the head wind
If you imagine things going well,
Someday the time when things change will come.....
Start running! Start running!
Let's welcome tomorrow
Let me hear the noise only you can make
Don't stop! Don't stop!
These feelings that move the present
Even the smallest of flower buds
Is only one piece of happiness*
And I suddenly realized that the box of stuffing mix is NOT happiness (which means I've wasted $1.19 but it would be worth the lesson at twice the price: I'm not buying that junk again).
The next thing that popped into my head was something that I read today. Sho-kun (on of the Arashi guys) said in an interview that maybe the best hobbies are the ones that sustain our lives--that's why his hobby is planning what he will be eating for dinner--that life is too short to have meals that you don't enjoy; that you should really think about eating food that will make you feel happy as well as just being fed; that you should think ahead seriously about what you really want to eat.**
I love potatoes, just about any way it's possible to prepare them (undoubtedly that's the Irish in me). I love broccoli, and I knew there were some fresh florets in the fridge at home. And, well, I already admitted that I love sour cream. At that moment, I KNEW, I just knew exactly how to make excellent stuffed mushrooms. And it was something I had never heard of or thought of before--a true inspiration.
No precise measurements here--it's the idea that's important anyway.
Pare and cube a couple of small potatoes. Put on to boil gently in a small-ish amount of water. Add 1 cup of cut up fresh broccoli florets. Add a teaspoon of dried basil.*** Cook about ten minutes until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain the potato/broccoli mixture. (A smart person will save that drained liquid to use in soup stock later. Don't waste it!) Add a serious dollop (about 1/3 cup) of sour cream, a shake of sea salt, and some freshly ground pepper. Beat with mixer until smooth and fluffy (just a minute will do).
While the potatoes are cooking, you will have been otherwise occupied: Pre-heat the oven to 375. About 8 or 9 large white mushroom caps will fill a low 9-inch square casserole. Stem and wash the mushrooms. (Save those stems for later! I will add my recipe for Nella's Mushroom Soup on another day.) Microwave a tablespoon of butter in a shallow bowl to melt. Dredge the mushroom caps, top down, to coat with melted butter and arrange the caps in the casserole. Drizzle any leftover butter over the mushrooms. (By the way, the Most Excellent Bowl Scraper Ever is just the tool you want for getting the last little bit of butter out of the bowl--the tool is easy to make for free and it's recycled.)
When the potato mixture is mashed, fill the caps very full (overlapping is fine). Sprinkle with a little shredded cheese (an Italian mixture of asiago, provelone, and parmesean tastes brilliant). Pop into the oven for 30 minutes. They are done when the caps are softened, when the potato filling is all bubbly, and when the cheese is browned. Serve immediately!
Seriously heavenly. Definitely one little piece of happiness. I intend to repeat this often. Life is short, enjoyment is precious. Thanks, Sho-kun!
And I have repeated it This has become a great favorite. I hope that you will enjoy it, too! (I only left the Happiness out of the title because it sounded suspicious and maybe a little hippie-dippy but, truly, I named the recipe for the song. Oh well. I love that silly/wise old song. You can find the video here if you are so inclined. And, yeah, I find inspiration from Arashi: here's the reason why. Deal with it.)
I didn't have the large mushrooms this time but the recipe works just as well with smaller ones. I used sharp white Vermont cheddar simply because that's what appealed to me, and it tastes fantastic. And I sautéed some onion to add to the broccoli/potato mixture just because it seemed like it would be a nice variation, and it surely was.
*translation credit to Yarukizero
**sorry but I don't have an attribution for the quote--it was a long time ago, and I have forgotten but I have seen it on various sites.
***I grow lemon basil in my garden; the flavor is quite different, and it's the only basil that I use.