Baby Bella Mushrooms stuffed with Ricotta, Fresh Herbs, and More Mushrooms.
I love being able to throw together dishes like these. I have no real recipes for any of them; no measurements, quantities or times. I just had a garden, a recent trip to the Farmers market, some homemade cheeses, and a few other ingredients – mostly local. And a hungry family.
I bought the mushrooms at the Farmers Market, I made the Ricotta, and the chives, thyme and oregano came from our back yard. How simple can you get? To make these, I rinsed off the mushrooms and removed the stems. You know a mushroom is freshly picked when the base of the stem isn’t hard and dried-out. Anyway, I set the caps aside and diced up the stems. Then I tossed them in a pan with some butter and a sprinkling of salt and let them brown and cook down a bit. I added a splash of sherry (white wine is nice, too) and continued to cook them over low heat to get rid of most of the moisture.
While all that was going on, I put the caps in a pyrex baking dish, drizzled a bit of olive oil over them, covered the pan with foil and popped them in a 350 degree oven for about twenty minutes. Then I shut off the heat and left them in for another twenty to thirty minutes. I wanted them mostly cooked but not mushy or shriveled.
Next, once the mushrooms and stems had cooled, I mixed the stems with some homemade ricotta and herbs. I always end up with more filling than I need because I’m always afraid I won’t have enough. You know how that goes. I added a little salt and pepper, and then I stuffed the mushrooms. I just took pinches of the filling and pressed the stuff into the caps. They’re small, bite-sized caps, so they don’t have room for a lot of stuffing. Just a little mound (probably anywhere from a rounded half-tablespoon to a rounded full tablespoon per mushroom, depending on size) was enough. Then I grated some dried Manchego (or Manchego-like cheese – see the comments in that post) over the tops and popped them in the oven for about twenty minutes at 375.
Yum. Three out of four members of my family loved them. Alex doesn’t like mushrooms OR soft cheese, so I knew he wouldn’t be interested. And on top of that, he’s got a sore throat (I’m hoping it’s not strep AGAIN), so he didn’t want too much besides ice cream yesterday.
Next dish – my favorite kind of pasta salad.
It’s sort of a Whatever-You’ve-Got-Plus-Cooked-Pasta kind of dish. Seriously. I start with warm pasta tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. While the past is still warm, I add some sort of cheese – in this case, it was homemade mozzarella. (I’ve made several cheeses lately – so much fun!) Then I added the Blauwschokker pods, sliced into slivers, and some assorted greens Bill had picked for me. A little more olive oil, a good toss, and the salad was ready.
I love adding bits of smoked blue fish or salmon…maybe some roasted red pepper…eventually halved cherry tomatoes or – even better – roasted cherry tomatoes…the sky’s the limit. A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar is nice on there, too.
The main thing is the pasta is warm, or room temperature, and you don’t use mayonnaise. Now, I love a good macaroni (or potato) salad with mayonnaise just as much as anyone. But I think I have come to like THIS version – the warm, olive-oil-based version – better.
And…finally…this morning’s breakfast.
We had a Lobster, Chevre and Tarragon Omelet.
I’ve mentioned this sort of omelet before. In fact, now that I look back at that other post, I see that this morning’s omelet was almost identical to that other one.
Anyway, in the picture above I’ve got some slices of bread from a 4-loaf batch I made yesterday. (No real recipe for that bread, either – I just made a basic batch of dough with a few eggs added, plus some oats and cornmeal. Oats add moisture (or moisture retention) and the cornmeal gives it a nice very slightly crunchy texture, especially when toasted.)…three eggs (Farmers Market eggs), some homemade Chèvre, fresh Tarragon from the garden, and almost a whole lobster’s worth of diced lobster meat. I really, really wanted lobster the other night, so we bought four lobsters from a little local seafood place, boiled them up and three of us ate lobster for dinner. (Alex had been to a birthday party and was full from all the pizza.) He didn’t want any the next night either – he was more interested in the Farmers Market mussels I steamed that night – so I saved the fourth lobster for an omelet.
It’s so easy to throw together a really fabulous omelet.
I got some butter going in a medium-hot pan, and beat the three eggs really well. The beating well is important – it incorporates air into the eggs and your omelet will come out beautifully puffy.
I sprinkled a little bit of tarragon into the melted butter before pouring the eggs in, and then I sprinkled a bit more tarragon onto the eggs as they started to cook.
Now, tarragon is one of those herbs that can be overpowering. It’s got a slightly licorice flavor, and it makes me think of summer. I love it in lobster dishes and in chicken salad. But not everyone loves it. It’s like dill – sometimes even a little bit is too much.
Bill, for instance, felt the tarragon was a bit overpowering, but I didn’t. If I’d used dill, the opinions would have been reversed. So use your own judgment with the quantity of tarragon.
Anyway, once the eggs have started to set, distribute bits of chèvre all over the egg, and top with the lobster.
Add a bit of salt and pepper if you like, and let the whole thing cook until the egg is almost completely set. Then carefully fold the omelet in half (either with a spatula in the pan or by sliding half the omelet onto a plate and then using the lip of the pan to flip the rest of the omelet over onto the plated half) and serve with hot buttered toast.
And if you don’t like goat cheese, you can use something else…ricotta…mozzarella…brie…whatever appeals to you.
Same with the herbs. If you don’t like tarragon, don’t use it. Use chives. Use a little softened garlic. Again – whatever appeals to YOU.
And that’s my little group of recent meals.
I hope they inspire you to create something original and fresh and local, too.
If you do – I’d love to hear about it!