I’m so torn today, people. I’m trying to maintain that whole stiff upper lip thing because complaining that waah, my shoulder hurts more, and boo, the bruises are getting uglier and also, my left foot is mysteriously swollen, isn’t going to solve anything. I mean, bitching and moaning? I hear there’s a real shortage of that on the internet. On the other hand, sometimes just the smallest amount of venting — petty as it may be — is all it takes so simply get over oneself. I mean, I fell down the stairs, did I think the next couple weeks were going to be a cinch? Like, duh.
But since I’ve already slipped into my less-savory side for the moment, can I mention the big purchase Alex and I made last week? The thing I’ve been wanting forever and finally managed to justify the expense? That thing would be ice skates. I think they’ll arrive today. Raise your hand if you think I should go ice-skating with a bruised shin and my dominant-side shoulder in a sling. Hello? Anybody? So there’s that, too. (But its sweet the way everybody is trying to protect me from myself.)
I probably didn’t help my spirits by trying to compose a recipe last night not written for the one-handed. I had to call in the troops to get stuff chopped, and even when said troop left for his volleyball game, I was still up shit’s creek, quite close to coming back to it another day. Fortunately, the work paid off when I realized you only need about two fingers of one hand to gobble up these numbers. I think they’d make an ideal Thanksgiving appetizer.
I made the stuffed mushrooms for two reasons: one, I just happened to have almost all of the ingredients, except, notably, the mushrooms in the fridge and wanted to use them up but two, I decided it was time for a little antidote to this season of excess. Don’t get me wrong, I savor a sweet potato gratin and cornbread chorizo stuffing as much as the next person with taste buds, but isn’t it nice once in a while to have an appetizer not oozing with excess or lacking interest because you reined it in? [Seeing as it is going to be many weeks before I can down-dog or, shudder, shoulder-stand again, such regimented principles are high on my mind.]
I actually cooked these the first time almost two years ago, but realized quickly the recipe needed a few alterations. A quick pre-baking of the empty tops allows much of their liquid to drain out, saving the end-product from sogginess, and the addition of some extra shallot and a clove or two of garlic gives the flavor the little oomph it needs. Alex would like it to be noted that he feels a crumbled strip or two of bacon would really perfect them, but I didn’t see the absence of pork products mitigating his enjoyment of them. You gotta love the way that boy thinks, though, but I’ll leave it up to you what you jack up the flavors with. For you spice mavens, I’ll bet a pinch of cayenne could also make these sing.
To wrap up this woe-is-me moment, it has thankfully passed for now. In fact, more than passed, I think I might actually be (oh my) leaving the apartment tonight to do something fun. It’s been too long.
Mushrooms Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Adapted from Gourmet, March 1996
1/2 ounce dried tomatoes (about 5, not packed in oil)
2 tablespoons olive oil
18 white mushrooms, stems pulled out and chopped fine and caps reserved
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 large egg yolk, beaten lightly
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed well, spun dry, and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a small bowl soak tomatoes in hot water to cover 5 minutes. Reserving 1 tablespoon soaking liquid, drain tomatoes well and chop fine.*
Lay mushroom caps, stems removed, face down on baking sheet either lightly sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper. Bake them approximately 10 minutes, or until their liquid puddles underneath. Remove from the oven. Carefully pour off liquid that has gathered in the bottom of the pan, and then again, carefully, turn mushroom caps over so they are ready to be filled.
In a small skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook chopped mushrooms stems, shallots and garlic, stirring until shallots are softened. In a bowl stir together mushrooms mixture, bread crumbs, tomatoes, reserved soaking liquid, yolk, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mound stuffing in reserved mushroom caps and arrange caps in a lightly greased shallow baking dish, or the same parchment-lined pan you’ve roasted your mushrooms in. Sprinkle mushrooms with Parmesan and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes.
Makes 18 hors d’oeuvres.
* Can skip this step if using oil-packed tomatoes, as I did.