Until two weeks ago, would you believe it, I didn’t like mushrooms. I wouldn’t refuse point blank to eat them, I wasn’t making a huge scene if one accidentally got on my fork, but if they were easy and inoffensive to pick out of a meal I would. I just didn’t understand how people could like a vegetable roughly the same texture as… in fact the texture isn’t like anything else at all. It is something completely unique. Slimy and rubbery and weirdly ridged and the most disgusting shade of brown imaginable.
Then that fateful night, when I suddenly got the most overwhelming craving for mushrooms. I swear, sometimes I think I’m pregnant with the strange cravings I get out of nowhere. There was the time I decided I couldn’t live if I didn’t have red cabbage for dinner. And then the all-the-time-nothing-but jam sandwiches phase. And now mushrooms.
Maybe I’ve just only ever eaten badly cooked mushrooms. Or overnight my taste buds reconfigured. Or I actually am pregnant. Whatever the reason (definitely not the last one) I now like mushrooms.
Beyond like. I love mushrooms. I actively look forward to eating mushrooms. I plan meals around mushrooms.
And when you’re eating mushrooms every other day you quite quickly run out of ideas for what to do with them. I’d had pasta, stir-frys, all day breakfasts, mushrooms on toast: what else did people make with mushrooms? Why, they stuff them of course.
Usually the kind of person taking the time to stuff a mushroom is someone throwing a dinner party. I can imagine Aunt Petunia slaving away in the kitchen, stuffing mushrooms with goats cheese and thinking how much this is going to impress the Masons (that’s a Harry Potter reference for those of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past 15 years).
I, however, am a long way from being Aunt Petunia in many ways (thank god). Most importantly, for the point that I’m trying to make, I have never in my life thrown a dinner party. Some people might make stuffed mushrooms to smooze their guests into placing a large order of drills, I make them for my lunch on a boring rainy Saturday. (But if you are the kind of person who throws dinner parties then three mushrooms per person and a basket of crusty bread and you won’t be able to stop your guests buying drills. Providing there are no house elf related catastrophes. And now I think the Harry Potter reference has run its course).
A quick google told me that the most popular fillings for mushrooms include bacon (which I don’t like), goats cheese (which I don’t like) or cream cheese (which I didn’t have). So I improvised with the contents of my fridge and came up with one of the best things I have ever made. Seriously. These could even stand up next to the salted caramel cheesecake of dreams.
I guess the point of publishing these recipes is partly so you can learn from my experiences. And the main thing I’ll take away from this? Don’t try and stuff closed cup mushrooms unless you really have no other choice. Hollowing out a mushroom is not an easy task and is a waste of a Saturday afternoon. Even when you can do it while singing along to Taylor Swift. Just buy chestnut mushrooms.
Oh and if you are Aunt Petunia-ing it and making them as a starter they have the added bonus of the option to make the filling ahead. Just get as far as step seven, then leave the filling to cool and add an extra couple of minutes to the oven timings to get that cheese bubbling and delicious.
Makes enough for two as a starter or one as a very fancy lunch.
1 tbsp cooking oil
Knob of butter
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
1 clove of garlic
1 red chilli
1 tsp oregano or mixed dried herbs
Salt and pepper
6 medium sized mushrooms
50g grated cheese
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 160°C
- Finely chop the onions and peppers
- Heat the cooking oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium/low heat
- Once hot add the onions and peppers and fry for about 8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is softened and just started to brown
- Finely chop the garlic and red chilli
- Once the onions and peppers are done, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, chilli, herbs and seasoning and cook for two minutes.
- Turn the heat off the frying pan (at this point you can just leave the filling to cool and just heat in the oven later or carry straight on to the next step)
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms and put them in an oven roasting dish, top side down
- Grate the cheese and stir into the vegetable filling, then use a teaspoon to fill the mushrooms with this mixture
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tops of the mushrooms, drizzle with olive oil and put in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbling