Tell me the truth. How many times have you executed some stunningly bone-headed maneuver and then looked around, hoping no one was watching? And then rapidly decided to take the episode of solitary mortification with you to the grave? Like this morning when I smeared hemorrhoid cream (instead of dry skin ointment) on the nasty runner’s crack at the top of my big toe.
It’s been a whole week of such incidents. Hormones. At 58, my body seems to be rejecting the idea of surrendering to menopause, and along with other delights, I am experiencing the most profound brain fog in recorded history. If you don’t know about brain fog, you can read about it here. So, while Meg was home this week, she got to watch me stop, point at her computer cord on the floor, and then proceed to trip over said cord. This happened at least twice. I don’t remember exactly how many times, because, brain fog.
Mary and I have been planning this cooking project all week. She needed a vegan finger food to bring to an event with the Bunco ladies. It’s a good thing she is so patient. We had the stuffed cucumber/tomato fiasco. When I was able, finally, to focus enough to generate a new idea, she was kind enough to do the shopping. If I’d had to do it I’m sure I would have taken out a few more of my toes with the cart. Don’t ask.
So, yesterday, we were roasting the mushrooms for this truly wonderful recipe. They needed to be turned. I worried out loud about the wisdom of using my impressive potter’s inversion technique (see 1:06 of this video for an example) because of the hot liquid that the mushrooms had shed. And then proceeded to do it anyway! Mary watched in abject horror as I doused myself, the floor, and the stove, with perfectly seasoned, 450° mushroom broth! It’s a good thing I wasn’t terribly burned because hemorrhoid cream would probably be contraindicated for a burn victim with hormone-related cognitive decline.
But, in spite of the fog, the mushrooms were delicious. Savory, tender, deeply flavored, perfectly seasoned, with a pop of sweet/tangy from the cranberries, they are perfect as a nibble with drinks or a glass of good wine. Mary’s email said: They were a big hit. Everybody said they loved them. Rachel D. couldn’t stop eating them. 😊 There are just enough left over to make a nice lunch for me today. Thank you! I do enjoy blogging and cooking with you.
I guess my dear friend loves me in spite of my compromised intelligence!
Brain Fog Mushrooms
The technique here borrows liberally from the wonderful Stuffed Mushrooms at Cook’s Country.
About 40 mushrooms
2 pounds cremini mushrooms
8 oz baby spinach
½ cup walnuts, toasted
2 small shallots, minced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
½ cup panko
3 tbs. xv olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line two sheet pans (or one, if you are a wimp) with parchment.
Prep the mushrooms: Remove and reserve the mushrooms stems; set aside any ‘shrooms that break and 10 or so of the smallest specimens. Arrange the caps cupped side up on one of the prepared pans. Drizzle with 1 tbs. of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Carefully pour off and reserve any liquid that has collected in the pan (don’t skip this step even if your brain is impaired). If you feel brave, use the second pan to invert the mushrooms. If my story has scared you, simply use a tongs to turn the mushrooms. Bake for 10 more minutes. Pour off and reserve liquid. Reduce oven temp to 425°.
While the mushrooms roast, prep the spinach. Place in a large bowl, top with a plate, and microwave for 1 minute. Let the spinach cool for a few minutes. Then use your hands to gather the leaves and squeeze as much liquid as possible. Place on a cutting board, and use a large knife to cut the bunch of wilted leaves into small pieces. Gather and squeeze again, extracting as much liquid as possible.
Mince the walnuts and cranberries finely using either a knife or a food processor. Mince the mushrooms stems and small ‘shrooms by hand.
Drizzle the panko with 1 tbs. of the olive oil and microwave for 45 seconds. Stir.
Heat the remaining 1 tbs. oil in a heavy, large skillet. Sauté the shallots for 1 minute. Add the minced mushrooms and sauté over high heat until they are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the walnuts, cranberries, spinach, and panko, stirring to combine. Add as much of the reserved mushroom liquid as necessary to moisten (aren’t you glad you didn’t throw it on yourself and the floor?). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Now for the fun part. Stuff the mushroom caps. We tried to find a spoon that would do the job and wound up using our hands. It’s extra fun if you chat with your friend and snack while you stuff. If you have leftover stuffing, eat it while you clean up the kitchen, even if you didn’t throw mushroom juice all over the place.
Bake the stuffed mushrooms for 7 minutes or so, until they are heated through and just beginning to brown on top. Serve hot, warm, or at room temp.
This post is dedicated, with love, to Jean Boyer Stow and her infectious laugh. And to the hearts and minds of our beloved sisters and friends who cherish us in spite of our fogginess.