It’s not news that I love to cook…and love to eat even more. It’s sort of like a chicken and an egg thing – do I like to cook because I like to eat or do I like to eat because I like to cook? It really doesn’t matter, but one of the things I enjoy is learning new recipes and cooking techniques (so I can cook and eat more) and as I’ve written about before, the Institute of Culinary Education in New York is one of my favorite places to take classes. Last week was the perfect July class, “Italian Summer” taught by my friend and esteemed Italian cooking instructor, Daniel Rosati. In addition to teaching classes in the U.S., Daniel also runs La Villa Cucina, a cooking school in Italy.
Sometimes I take the class with a friend, but often go solo and there are always interesting people to meet and cook with. This class was a super group of women, all very friendly and chatty consisting of three friends from New Jersey, a couple of mothers and their college age daughters and a several other women, including one whom I met in Daniel’s “Emilia-Romagna Cooking” class a few years ago. Aside from having fun, everyone was there to learn something new to cook…and to eat.
And I always, always come away with some new tidbit of information from Daniel’s class – this time it was about roasting red peppers on the grill (put them in an ice bath after charring to stop the cooking and cool them to make them easier to peel), aluminum foil (dull side out because it absorbs the heat whereas the shiny side reflects the heat), never soak mushrooms in water (they’re like a sponge and absorb the moisture) and the Italian word for catmint (nepitella). Because you never know when the word might come up in conversation.
The menu lineup for the class was spectacular – Veal Rollatini Spiedini with Chicken and Sausage, Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Salad, Tuscan Herbed Potato Salad, Calabrian Style Stuffed Peppers, Ricotta & Mascarpone Lemon Cheesecake and my personal favorite, Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. The recipes are all Daniel’s originals and I plan to make all of them at home, but started with the Portobellos. The Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms are hearty enough to be served as an entrée with a green salad drizzled with a light lemony vinaigrette or cut into pieces and served as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. Using a smaller size Portobello makes for the perfect side dish.
So…which recipe should we make next?
- 8 large Portobello Mushrooms, stems removed, caps cleaned with damp towel
- ½ c. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
- ¼ c. chopped parsley
- 2 T. chopped thyme
- 2 T. minced chives
- 12 large basil leaves, shredded
- ⅓ c. grated Parmigiano
- ½ c. grated Gruyère
- ½ c. grated Asiago
- 1 c. grated Fontina
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 4 T. milk
- Preheat oven to 350° or light grill.
- Place aluminum foil shiny side up on jelly roll pan and lightly oil shiny side.
- Place the mushrooms on the foil, gill side up. Brush with olive oil, season generously with salt, pepper and minced garlic.
- In a small bowl, combine the stuffing ingredients, except for the milk, and toss with a fork to blend.
- Drizzle with milk, toss again to moisten the crumb mixture. Stuffing should just hold together when gently squeezed. Add additional teaspoons of milk if mixture is still dry.
- Distribute stuffing evenly into the mushroom caps, gently pressing down. Drizzle tops with additional olive oil.
- Cover with additional sheet of foil (shiny side in) and roll sides inward to create a tight foil package.
- Bake 40 minutes in oven or grill ½ hour over medium heat.