I am not a big meat eater. I don’t especially care for the texture, and I am not a fan of handling raw meat and all the food safety stipulations that go with it. Alas; I married a carnivore who “hates beans” and used to swear up and down that he could not assuage his hunger when he was fed no meat at all on any given day. (I remind him of this now when I tell him I am making black bean soup for dinner and he nearly squeals with excitement. “But you hate beans.” “Shut up.”) And I have gone nearly four days, feeding him entirely vegetarian (for my own entertainment) without him even noticing until I mentioned it.
So, the facts are; I do cook meat, regularly. I don’t hate it. Most of the time I even enjoy eating what I have prepared. A few days a week, however, I go meat free and I enjoy that too.
I have a large collection of cook books that I stole from my mother (who did not use them, and does not miss them) when I moved out of the house… And a number of them I have gotten as gifts since then. One of my favorites, hands down, is the Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas. First of all, it was published in 1972, and it looks like it was published in 1972, but it also happens to be chock-full of delicious recipes.
-10 to 12 huge fresh mushrooms (1 1/2 to 2 lbs.)
-6 TBS butter
-2 garlic cloves, pressed
-1/4 tsp thyme
-1 Medium onion, chopped
-3 Stalks celery, chopped (I omit this as I am mildly allergic to celery, and my husband doesn’t like it.)
-1 Tart green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
-1 TBS parsley
-1/8 tsp marjoram
-1/8 tsp oregano
-1 quart cubed bread
-1 cup vegetable broth (I cheat and use veggie stock cubes as they add a little bit of salt… And save some time.)
1) Wash the mushrooms very carefully and remove stems. Hollow out the mushrooms a bit with a spoon. (Save the scrapings.)
2) Melt 2 TBS butter in a large skillet. Add one clove crushed garlic and thyme and stir around for a minute or two. Add the whole mushroom caps and saute them for few minutes, moving them around so that they brown evenly. Remove and set aside.
3) Add the remaining butter to the skillet along with the second clove of garlic, the herbs, the chopped onion, celery, and apple. Chop up the mushroom stems and add them to the skillet.
Stirring often, saute the mixture until the onions are quite transparent. Add the bread cubes and toss well with the other ingredients. Salt and pepper liberally.
4) Continue cooking mixture until the bread cubes have absorbed all the butter. Moisten with a little bit of vegetable broth.
5) Stuff the mushroom caps, pressing several spoonfuls of the mixture into each one and forming a small mound on top. Butter a large baking dish (with a tight-fitting lid) and arrange the stuffed mushrooms in it in a single layer. Pour the remaining vegetable broth into the dish and cover it tightly. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they are not drying out. Serve hot. Serves 4-5.
I would also like to note… That is PURPLE asparagus, and I was deeply disappointed at how much of it’s purple hue disappeared upon cooking.