Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Italian Stuffed Mushrooms" September is National Mushroom Month


Join with me and let’s celebrate “National Mushroom Month.” which is observed every September. Since I can remember, growing up in my Italian American family, my mom would always use mushrooms in her recipes. There are many varieties of mushrooms, such as the white button, crimini, portabella, shiitake and oyster to name a few. The button mushroom is the most widely used. My mom would use a number of varieties for different dishes, but she preferred to use the white button mushrooms more than the others.

To have a better understanding about where mushrooms originated from and some interesting facts, we have to travel back to ancient folklore. Egyptians believed that mushrooms were the plant of immortality. The flavors captivated the Pharaohs so much that mushrooms were decreed food for the royalty. Common people were not allowed to even touch them. According to some people Louis XIV was the first mushroom grower in France. Mushrooms were grown in caves near Paris. France showed England how simple a crop of mushrooms were to cultivate, so England began to produce them as well. The first American to cultivate mushrooms here in the United States was Louis F. Lambert from Minnesota. Many people found that mushrooms were easy to grow and cheap to buy. 

Pennsylvania is the lead in mushroom production. In 2006/2007, 827 million lbs. of mushrooms have been produced and sold. Speaking of Pennsylvania, if you are a fan of all things mushroom or just want to enjoy a fun (gi) time, go to Kennett Square in PA and join in the Mushroom Capital of the World for the 26th annual Mushroom Festival which takes place this weekend. Edible mushrooms are known as the meat of the vegetable world. Most mushrooms are sold in supermarkets which have been grown in mushroom farms and are used in cooking many different cuisines of the world. Here are some tips as to selecting and cleaning mushrooms.

Selecting:
1. Purchase mushrooms that are firm with a fresh, smooth appearance
2. Surfaces should be dry, but not dried out and appear plump
3. Equivalents: 1 pound fresh mushrooms = 6 cups sliced fresh mushrooms = 3 ounces
Dried mushrooms
4. Some mushrooms may keep for up to one week in the refrigerator
5. Fresh mushrooms should never be frozen, but frozen sautéed mushrooms will keep for up to one month  
 
Cleaning:
1. Brush off any dirt with your fingers or a damp paper towel, or rinse the mushrooms briefly under running water and pat dry with a paper towel
2. Do not soak mushrooms in water as they easily absorb moisture
3. If the stem is tough, trim it before using. For Shiitakes, stems should be removed before use

My mom at 2 yrs old
(1931)
4. Dried mushrooms are often excellent substitutes for fresh. You can reconstitute dried mushrooms by soaking or simmering them. Don’t throw away the soaking liquid, as it can add flavor to your sauce. You can also pulverize dried mushrooms with a food processor or blender, and then use the mushroom powder to flavor sauces and stews.

Now that you know all about mushrooms, you can try my mom’s recipe called “Italian Stuffed Mushrooms.” This dish has been in my family for years and everyone loves it. My mom used to make this flavorful recipe mainly for holidays, until it was requested by family members for her to prepare this dish for non-holidays as well. You can use this as a side dish or even as an appetizer. As you enter a mushroom into your mouth, you can taste the savory flavor of the spices and cheese in the breadcrumb stuffing mix, which will enhance the richness of the mushroom. Absolutely “yummy” and I’m sure it will be a favorite in your family as it is in mine.

Photo: Courtesy from Food Network
Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
48 oz large white button mushrooms
2 cups of plain dried bread crumbs
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
3 teaspoons of minced garlic fresh or jar
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive or vegetable oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Clean mushrooms and take the stem off. Mix the bread crumbs with the parsley, garlic, Pecorino Romano, salt and peeper in a small bowl. Now add some oil (about 2 tablespoons) and mix with hands. If you need more oil put in small amount each time until you are mixing the right consistency. When it feels like a sandy consistency then you are ready to stuff the mushroom caps and place on a large cookie/pan sheet. Now, drizzle a small amount of the remaining oil over the top of each mushroom. (This is so they do not dry out, but do not soak) Bake until mushrooms are browned and tender about 25-30 minutes.



This weekend is the 10th Anniversary of  9/11, a day most Americans and the world will never forget. An attack on America took place that day, and thousands of people lost their lives. The entire country was impacted by this tragic day’s events. I would like to say that my heart and prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones in the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Plus, my prayers also go to the First Responders, because of their bravery; many have also lost their lives. May our country and the world be safe and God Bless America.




Till Next Time……
 
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4 comments:

  1. These stuffed mushrooms do make a great side dish for an italian meal! I like the tips you provided also.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the 9/11 victims as well as all of today's public servants (police, fire department, EMTS, etc).
    Great post

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  2. Tina,
    Thanks for your wonderful comments. Yes, all mushrooms are so "yummy." Hope you try the recipe. Plus we should never forget what happened on 9/11, all we can do now, is pray for all of the lives that were lost. :)

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  3. I did not know that September was National mushroom month! That's great because I just bought a huge batch at the co-op today! Your stuffed mushroom recipe looks like a great way to use them. Delicious!

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  4. Dottie Sauchelli BalinSeptember 11, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    MJ,
    Thanks for your comments. I know I didn't know either until I did some research on Mushrooms. Yes, you have to try the recipe, it really is easy and really good. IF, I have any leftovers, I love them cold as well. :)

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