Posted by: ThePseudotarian | June 22, 2010

Celebrating a year and a beginning

Between Father’s Day this weekend and my birthday last weekend, it’s been hard to do any cooking. Plus, we’ve been busy. Matt’s been working nonstop at night and I’ve been getting rocked at work with client visits and big projects. You know what that means?

Wearing a full suit in 90-degree+ weather. Yuck. And I have a kind of weird job. My employer (who I’ll just call The Company, since they have a track-back system) is a college and university enrollment and marketing firm. So I write a lot of emails, letters and college applications to and for high school students all over the country. Whether you’ve been to a small private college in New England, a big state school out in the Rockies, or an aeronautical school in Florida – I’ve heard of it and I may write some of their material.

Job description aside, the heat also means that I’m not really up for eating much either. But yesterday was our 1-year pseudo-versary (pseudo-anniversary, get it? GET IT?!). We don’t have a definite date of when we started dating … it just kind of happened. So we’ve decided to pick a date in the middle of June each year and just say it’s our anniversary. Nothing special, no bells and whistles, but Matt was also starting a new job today and I want to make something nice that I know he loves.

Stuffed Portobellos with Brie and Buttermilk Bleu Cheese.

7 oz tofu (I used firm), crumbled
2-3 tbsp olive oil
approx. 2 tbsp dried tarragon
balsamic vinegar
1 cup uncooked brown basmati rice
1/4 (scant) bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Buttermilk bleu cheese (maybe around 6 oz)
A small wheel or wedge of brie
4 large portobello caps

salt and pepper

Ok, ok. I know these measurements aren’t exact (…. again) and I’m sorry. When I improvise stuff in the kitchen, it just kind of works. Except baking. Have I mentioned I can’t bake? Well I will again. I can’t even do skillet cornbread.

Anyway.

Get your rice started, since this can take 30 minutes or more. I used the standard 1:2 rice-water ratio, but you may need to add a bit more water toward the end of cooking if your rice dries out. I definietly did. While that’s simmering away and getting nice and soft, go ahead and marinate your crumbled tofu in a mixing bowl for about 15 minutes. After you’ve reduced the tofu to the texture of scrambled eggs, add the olive oil and tarragon and then add balsamic and blend well with your hands or a spoon. It was hard to get a measure on the vinegar, since I only add it to taste.

Pop the bowl in the fridge and start cleaning out your mushrooms. Break off the steams and (if your mushrooms are really shallow like mine unfortunately were) scoop out the gills to give you some more room for the stuffing. Rub them with some more olive oil and balsamic and set them on the pan you’ll use for roasting. About 7 or 8 minutes before the rice is done, take your tofu out of the fridge and add to a large saute pan. Over medium-high heat, saute the marinated tofu until all its liquid has evaporated. I let the tofu go a bit beyond this point until the marinade became fragrant and filled the room. I’d say, saute until the point where the man- or lady-friend wanders into the kitchen trying to get a free bite.

Return the tofu to the mixing bowl and blend with the cooked rice, bread crumbs and parmesan. If the mixture is too dry, feel free to add a bit more oil or balsamic. If it’s too moist, throw in some more bread crumbs. Salt and pepper this mixture to your taste. When you’re satisfied, stuff the mushrooms with this mixture until full. Top two mushrooms with bleu cheese crumbles, and two mushrooms with thin slices or bite-size pieces of brie. I removed the firm outer rind, but only because I didn’t want that particular texture  in this recipe.

I baked these at 350 degree for about 15 minutes. You don’t want the mushrooms (especially if they’re thin) to disintegrate, since portobellos have an amazing smooth, meaty texture (why would you EVER want meat with these heavenly things around?). If they’re thicker, you might want to take them to 20, but it’s your call. I trust you  =)

Matt loved these. We ate them with some orange lentil salad from Ukrops (errr …. Martins?) that I recently discovered. It was delicious with this dish. Mostly since mushroom and cheese combinations are something I’ve always loved. Especially Brie and Bleu. 821 Cafe – our favorite local restaurant – makes a to-die-for spinach, brie and portobello omelet. Nothing beats it. Except maybe the portobello, spinach and brie crossiant. Or the veggie steak and cheese … Or …

Anyway. I should say WE loved these. Even though the mushrooms and cheese dominated the flavors, the tofu, rice and taragon mixture made a lovely filling. I’ve always enjoyed tarragon paired with mushrooms, and the sauteed and marinated tofu definitely gives this a it of a punch. They’re a very well-rounded stuffed mushroom, if you know what I mean.

Do you make stuffed portobellos? Whats your favorite vegetarian stuffing or favorite cheese combination?

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