So the two fat veggies packed their belongings in a spotted hankie and headed off on their hols to France, that well-known mecca of vegetarian cooking… We were staying with friends in the Dordogne, and went equipped with some recipe ideas to entertain our hosts (and they didn’t involve goats cheese either!)
One of the nicest meals I’ve had in France was mixed mushrooms, cooked with garlic, olive oil and a dash of cream and served with pasta. So mushrooms seemed like a good bet, and I toyed with my mushroom burger recipe (portobello mushroom, basted with olive oil, garlic and pesto and then flash-fried on both sides before being shoved in a ciabatta roll with any trimmings you might fancy). We were, though, limited by what Intermarche in Montignac stocked. Their vegetables section is large, but the quality a tad patchy some days. But they did have some fairly large mushrooms which looked promising.
I maintain that life is too short to stuff a tomato or courgettes, and I do not propose to repeat a stuffed cabbage dish that looked like a turd and didn’t taste much better. But mushrooms are another matter. My partner-in-crime Anth reckons part of it is down to the weight in the mouth – even the most dyed-in-the-wool carnivore will appreciate the texture.
I forget now where I found the recipe I used, but it’s one I use a lot. You can serve it with mashed potatoes, although we went for boiled potatoes and a side salad.
Large mushrooms (two or three per person)
A couple of shallots
Boursin or a similar soft flavoured cheese (take it out of the fridge about an hour before you want to use it)
Salt and pepper
Fry the shallots until they are just starting to soften, then mix in some tarragon. I use about a level teaspoon of the dried stuff. In a separate bowl soften the cheese and mix in the breadcrumbs. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, then push a generous amount into each mushroom. Put them on a baking tray, drizzle plenty of lemon juice and olive oil over them and then bake until the mushrooms soften and the breadcrumbs go brown.
France tweaks: We couldn’t get tarragon, so I used mixed herbs instead, and they tasted fine. French bread works very well for this recipe, as it seems to go stale the moment you walk it out of the shop. There wasn’t a blender to blitz the breadcrumbs, so I chopped the bread not terribly finely with a sharp knife. It was OK, but the texture was more like croutons and a little more crunchy than the usual recipe.