Last year was Julia Child’s 100th birthday. A friend and I joined thousands of others in paying tribute to her by cooking her food. It was such fun that we have been talking about it ever since. That, combined with the gift of a cookbook by Lidia Bastianich for by birthday, led us to this year’s tribute dinner, this time to Lidia.
We cooked in my kitchen together. It took the better part of a late afternoon and evening, not because it was so complicated, but because we had to stop for several hours in the middle to feed, tub and bed the children. Which worked out perfectly since my husband and her fiancée (they were engaged this year, inspiring the “love chicken” post) couldn’t join us until later in the evening as well.
And there were a few mishaps. What would cooking a big meal be without some bumps? Luckily, we were able to engage backup plans and to improvise which led to a delicious and hardy meal. Believe me when I say, we were all so stuffed by the end and yet, all of us wanted to keep eating.
She also made a delicious puttanesca sauce and has a handy tip for pitting the olives.
I made bread and a tomato mozzarella salad. I also made stuffed mushrooms and cappuccino cake, both from Lidia’s recipes. Both proved to be just right for the meal. The mushrooms were filling and savory without being too rich and the cake was just the right mix of bitter coffee and sweet cream.
Stuffed Mushrooms (Funghi Ripieni) from Lidia’s Italian-American Table
24 white or cremini mushrooms, with caps, about 1.5 inches in diameter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped scallion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup coarse, dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmiegiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 dry white wine
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Remove the stems from your mushrooms and set them aside- do not get rid of them. Also, wash your mushrooms first.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the scallion and cook until it is wilted, about 1 minute. Add the red pepper and chopped mushroom stems. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes.
Place the stuffed mushrooms in a baking pan that has been greased with butter. Place about a 1/4 teaspoon of butter on top of each mushroom. I didn’t measure this part, honestly, just put a little bit of butter on top of each.
Mix the wine, chicken stock and the rest of the parsley. Pour it around the mushrooms. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and place on a warmed platter. Pour the liquid out into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat for a minute or two, allowing it to thicken slightly. Pour over the mushrooms and serve immediately.
These were so good- salty and full of flavor. The mushrooms were soft and the filling was crunchy and cheesy. I probably ate at least four of them. I could have eaten them all but I was trying to be a good hostess.
Stay tuned for the cake recipe.