I was hoping to post about my foray into ciabatta bread-making tonight. Unfortunately, my adventure turned into a dead end when the yeast just refused to cooperate after kneading the dough. I think I know what went wrong and hopefully soon I’ll be able to add to the chorus of praises for King Arthur Flour’s recipe for ciabatta.
It’s no great loss, though! Last night Mike threw together an impromptu dinner combining crap we had lying around in the fridge (well, not crap, but you know what I mean…) and some things we’d just picked up at the mecca of local grocery stores, Market Basket. Usually, Market Basket is nothing short of a madhouse on Sunday afternoons–no parking spots, packed aisles, many children and older people, and my favorite feature, sawdust on the floor. I think the snowstorm that lasted from Friday night until yesterday held some regulars back, though, because I wasn’t as exhausted after our trip as I normally am.
Working on the pork he’d picked out, Mike assigned me the stuffed portobello mushroom project.
(Side note: Writing “portobello” feels funny to me. I’ve always preferred “portabello.” And then there’s “portobella.” Apparently, they are all correct, but portobello is by far more common in a Google search, so…I’ll trust the wisdom of the crowds and go with that one. Sheesh.)
He grabbed a handful of baby spinach that was hanging out in the fridge, a few cloves of peeled garlic we buy in bulk, and sliced a piece of the Tuscan loaf we’d just bought. A piece of pecorino cheese from a few weeks ago was starting to get moldy, so we sliced off the edges and chopped it up. Mike also pulled out the block of cheddar we’d just thawed (apparently it can be frozen!).
I did the extra-tough task of throwing it all in the food processor and adding enough olive oil to get it to blend smoothly. I performed my salt-and-pepper-adding magic and DELICIOUS. Try not to eat it all before stuffing the mushrooms.
We bought baby portobello caps, so they only needed to be relieved of the woody interior (what’s left of the stem). When I used a spoon, I tore open a cap. Try using your finger instead…I had much better results. Practice makes perfect, I found, as I was much better at it by the last mushroom.
These took about 30 minutes overall, with about 15 minutes of that being oven time. They would be difficult to make in concert with another complicated dish, but I think if I had been cooking alone I would have managed to flip the meat when necessary so that everything finished at the same time. Luckily, with two cooks in the kitchen, it was a breeze.
Roasted Stuffed Baby Portobello Mushrooms
1 1-inch thick slice of crusty white bread, like a rustic loaf, sourdough, or baguette (use 2 slices for baguette)
Handful of fresh baby spinach (1/8-1/4 cup of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, might work)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 oz. Pecorino, or any hard, waxy cheese (like Parmesan or Fontina), cut into pieces
2 oz. cheddar, cut into pieces
2-4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 baby portobello mushroom caps
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Tear the bread into smaller pieces and add to food processor. Pulse until broken up into coarse crumbs. Add spinach, garlic, cheeses, and about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in food processor and pulse to combine with bread. Add more olive oil if necessary for easier chopping. Add salt and pepper, pulse, taste, and repeat until it tastes excellent.
Remove woody center of each mushroom cap and discard. Gently but firmly spoon filling into each cap so that the mushroom is full but not overflowing. Once each is filled, distribute the rest of the stuffing so that there are small mounds (giving it that “stuffed” look). This way you won’t run out before actually filling each.
Place mushrooms, stuffing side up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 12-15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes for doneness. When ready, they will feel “spongy” if gently squeezed–similar to the texture of a hard-boiled egg (a bit softer).