I do a lot of my experimenting on the weekends since I have more time. I also like to eat dinner late. Unfortunately, the others members of my household don't. Fortunately, they are easily pacified with some good finger food. One really good recipe I have is for stuffed mushrooms. It keeps the troops satisfied until I can whip up something more plate-filling after the sun goes down.
Mushrooms with Italian Stuffing
Some nice, big, stuffable mushrooms (or heck, a lot of little ones)
1/2 cup pancetta (chopped)
1 cup red onion (chopped)
2 cups bread, cut into cubes
1 cup milk
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
8 oz spinach (chiffonaded)
1/2 cup asiago cheese (grated)
red pepper flakes (a pinch)
First, the bread. Use whatever makes you happy. Tonight I used baguette bread. I used about 3/4 of the loaf, which got me to two cups. I scooped out the soft middle and then cut the harder crust into small pieces. This can soak in the milk for awhile. Make sure you mush it up real good.
For the mushrooms, use whatever kind you want as well. I had some plain old big button mushrooms. Those giant portabella caps work great. If your mushroom have stems, tear them out. I chopped them up and added them to the pan later. If your mushrooms have those ridges inside that look like the blades on a radiator, scoop those out with a spoon. Trust me.
In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat enough oil to coat the pan. Add the pancetta (if you don't want to pay for pancetta, I hear you; use bacon instead) and cook until it browns, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until soft, about three minutes. If you've got mushroom stems from earlier throw them in there too. Add the garlic and pinch of red pepper. Stir and cook for another two minutes. Remove from the heat. While still hot from the stove, add the spinach and stir, wilting the leaves.
Add the pan's contents along with the cheese to the bread and milk mixture, stirring thoroughly with a fork. Add salt to taste (around a teaspoon works).
I take a cookie sheet and cover it with aluminum foil. Then I rub some margarine all over it. Stuff the mushroom caps with the stuffing and place on the cookie sheet. Cook for 30-40 minutes in a 350° oven and you're done.
I tried something called Apothic Red with these, and it worked pretty well. According to the bottle, it's a "masterful blend of rich Zinfandel, flavorful Syrah, and smooth Merlot." I don't know about all that. It was a pretty good little wine though, and it was definitely smooth. I recommend it if you want to try something new in the $11-$12 range.
As for the main course tonight, I just whipped up a little chicken fettucine and salad. I'll save that one for a future entry. Until then, spero vi piaccia i funghi.