Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Can Stuffed Mushrooms be Fast Food?

We've been eating fast food this week. Burgers, hot dogs, stuffed mushrooms, pizzas... Hang on, stuffed mushrooms?? Life is too short to stuff a mushroom, according to Shirley Conran. I disagree. The stuffed mushroom is actually quite easy to throw together for a weeknight dinner. The trick is to use just one mushroom per person. One really, really big mushroom. Here's how it works.

Turn on the oven to 180C, and pop a couple of spuds in the microwave for 5 minutes to start the weeknight baked potatoes. While that's happening, clean the mushrooms and pop them in a shallow baking dish, with a drizzle of water on the bottom so they won't dry out and go leathery. Rip up a couple of slices of bread into crumbs in a bowl. One slice per mushroom. Add any herbs, spices, and bits and pieces that you like. Add some melted butter and an egg or two to bind. Squoosh into the mushrooms. Spray a bit of olive oil on top. Bake for 20 minutes, along with the potatoes. Make a salad or steam some greens while it's baking. All done in around half an hour. It's a nice vegetarian dinner, unless you've added ham or bacon or something.

I won't give a proper recipe, because actually this latest lot weren't the best. I had some shreds of sundried tomatoes, some caramelised onion, and some crumbled Small Cow fetta, and lots of pepper and parsley, so the flavours were good. But I tried going low fat, and the texture came out too dry. It was still quite edible, but definitely not one of my best efforts.

I'll make a few notes on the other fast foods we've had this week. Hamburgers are simply plain minced meat rolled into 100g balls, and squished into a frying pan. There are all sorts of recipes for hamburgers, with breadcrumbs, herbs, onions, and so on - and these can be fun, but are basically unnecessary. Serve the burgers in nice grainy wholemeal rolls with some salad. Don't forget the beetroot! We had caramelised onion, too.

Hot dogs - well, I kid slightly. We had some cocktail frankfurters left over from a party, and to bulk up the soup dinner we had some of them on the side. Frankfurters are a good addition to a lentil soup.

Pizza? Honestly, no Italian would acknowledge this variant. Wholemeal pita bread rounds with a commercial pizza sauce, topped as you wish, baked at 200C until nice and hot, and the cheese is melted. It takes about ten minutes. I made one without the sauce, with just caramelised onions and gorgonzola. The rest had cheese: a mix of cheddar odds and ends, not even mozzarella. Tonight I added some ham, olives, capsicum, pineapple and shallot. I was out of anchovies and pickled jalapenos. Make a quick side salad while the cheese is toasting and there's dinner.

You may have noticed the caramelised onion theme. These are not fast food unless you have them already prepared. To do that, all you have to do to is slice up a half dozen onions, pop them in a frypan with a little oil, and cook them very slowly for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Edit: as Fiona pointed out in the comments, both the stuffed mushies and the pita pizza are great for using up loose ends of things from the fridge. I originally forgot the "no waste" tag. Thanks, Fi!

1 comment:

infoaddict said...

Some excellent reminders in there of stuff one can cook when .. well, stuffed :)

I adore our turkish bread "pizzas", but always forget about them - pizza is something you buy when desperate, and generally I don't like to buy pizza! But turkish bread, cut across the length to expose the soft middles, then coated with commercial pasta sauce (or even just tomato paste), and topped with "empty the fridge" stuff like ham, salami, bacon, capsicum gone a bit soft, mushrooms gone a bit dry, tomatoes a little past use, cheese odds and sods - just as in your post - it's _always_ delicious. Very hot oven (or even under the grill) for 10-15mins, until the cheese goes a little brown and the bread is a tad crunchy; it's more a huge open toasted sandwich than anything else, really, and the flavour and textures are always amazing. And never oily. Commercial pizzas - even very good ones - always seem terribly oily!!

Our fast foods are noodle soups and, when one has a freezer full of rather bodgy mince sauce, pasta "bolognaise" and Mexican.

Noodle soups - use Campbell's stock or, if you're lucky to have made a huge turkey-and-chicken stock some months before, home-made stock. Chuck in sliced ginger and dried mushrooms and bring to boil. Soak dried asian noodles of preference in boiling water. Shred asian greens. Slice handy pre-cooked meats, tofu, or whatever you fancy (we used pre-cooked sausages from the previous nights' dinner. Pretend they're asian pork sausage and you're fine).

Drain noodles, put in bottom of biiig bowl. Stack veggies and meats on top. Pour boiling stock over everything. Top with coriander if it's around (or you can be stuffed stumbling around in the dark to get some, which I couldn't). Serve with chopsticks or fork and spoon.

This, of course, can be adapted if you've got random jars of "laksa mix" or any other spice paste hanging around the cupboard. Add to the stock and then pour over; use appropriate noodles and toppings if you've got them too. Boil eggs and slice them. But essentially, you need stock, veggies, and noodles. :)

I'm currently indulging in a decided addiction to mexican food, although really it's nothing more sophisticated than a mince mix, taco shells, and then lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cheese, coriander, and a tomato salsa of some description served in separate bowls for adding as desired. I don't do avocado so there isn't guacamole, generally; but the thing about "fast" food is its tastiness and fulfilment of hunger-requirements, not strict adherence to the definition of a particular foodstuff. I happen to like piling stuff into taco shells and it takes 30mins from start (hauling the sauce out of the freezer) to finish (putting bowls on table and supplying lots of napkins in lieu of cutlery).

I can, of course, do _proper_ Mexican flavours, and do when I find the "correct" ingredients. But that's not fast food.

Thank you for your reminders of stuffed mushies and burgers. As our chooks are still on the lay (just!), adding an egg to breadcrumbs or mince, adding flavourings, and cooking suitably is well within my kenning of "fast". We've been eating a lot of omelettes recently 'cos of my discovery that home-laid egg-omelettes taste NOTHING like bought-egg-omelettes. Freshness counts toward egg flavour, it seems. So tonight was going to be a "frittata" or "spanish omelette" ... cook stuff, pour eggs over, shift around, let eggs set, flip if possible or put under grill if not possible, then serve with green salad and a glass of wine :)

Th'Bloke loves stuffed mushrooms. Maybe I'll make some :)