a long held wish come true

Today, I got an idea in my head, and I just couldn’t shake it.

I was thinking about my ‘food evolution’ ~ how I got into the business, and where my food tastes come from.  And some things that I love love love are mushrooms.  I can usually find a way to add mushrooms to almost every dish.  And I learned this from my very first restaurant job in Reading, Pennsylvania at Joe’s Bistro 614.

Joe’s Bistro 614 was owned and operated by a family whose son went to school with my brother and I, and I worked there for my junior and senior years of high school.  I learned quite a lot at that restaurant ~ about mushrooms, and how they can enhance dishes with their own flavor, or add depth to a dish because of their inherent ability to soak up the flavors of other foods.  I also learned a lot about the composition of a dish, and ironically enough, it was where I first had (and fell in love with!) Israeli cous cous.

I am forever grateful for learning to love the ‘shroom.

Today, I was paging through some cookbooks written by my old boss (‘Portobello’ and ‘Joe’s Book of Mushroom Cookery’ by Jack Czarnecki, among others) and decided I was ready to make a Portobello En Croute.  I have thought of that dish for years (and I mean it ~ literally, I hadn’t had one since I was 16, and it used to be a complete fav). Today felt like the day to do it.

It was SOOO worth it.  I’m stuffed, but good golly, it was a gustatory dream come true.  (Yeah, I looked that up, because I had no idea what the name for the taste system in our body was ~ but now I do!).

What you need:

2 portobello caps (3-4 inches in diameter)

1 bag Fresh Spinach

2 cloves fresh garlic

Puff pastry (in theory, 2 pieces rolled out to 6 x 6 inch squares) ** When buying, look for butter puff pastry, and also make sure you’re buying sheets, not cups.

4 oz Roquefort cheese

1 egg (beaten)

Hoisin Sauce (but this girl used Soy Sauce with sugar dissolved in it)

What I did:

First, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees.

Then ….

1.  I thawed out puff pastry (check the directions ~ the quick thaw for mine was 40 mins).  I only used one sheet and put the other back in the freezer per the package’s directions.

2.  Popped mushroom stems from Portobello Caps.

3.  Brushed hoisin sauce in gills of mushroom cap.  (Or my alternative, low sodium soy sauce with some dissolved sugar).

4.  While pastry thawed, and ‘shrooms soaked up marinade, I piled spinach in a saucepan, pressed two cloves of fresh garlic in, sprinkled with water and cooked over low heat, stirring occasionally. ** The goal is to get soft, sauteed spinach to fill the caps with, so use your own discretion regarding how cooked or not cooked you prefer your spinach.  I had to add another full pan of spinach once the first cooked down, so don’t be afraid to do that!

5.  When pastry dough thawed, I rolled it out until approx 12 x12 in, and then cut down the middle, to create two pieces of pastry.

6.  In the center of the pastry, I crumbled 2 oz Roquefort per piece.

7.  Then I set the portobello caps, gill side up, on top of Roquefort, and filled the interior of the cap with spinach (I distributed evenly between both caps).

8.  Next up, I wrapped the pastry around the cap, making sure to enclose completely.

9.  Then I put each cap (now ‘right side up’ aka gill side down) on a greased baking sheet, and brushed the egg wash (beaten egg for the lay person) over then entire outer area.

10.  I baked them for about 10 minutes ~ but you can do less if your cap is smaller.  I happened to get the last two that the supermarket had, and they were colossal.

11.  When the pastry was turned a very lovely golden brown, I pulled them out of the oven.

12.  I served with a side salad of diced avocado, drained mandarin oranges, and a cilantro vinaigrette (made with EVOO, lemon juice and diced cilantro).

Yum yum!  Even John liked it, and I could tell by his facial expressions as I made my way around the kitchen that he was a bit apprehensive.

A triumph again! Yippee!!

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