Monday, April 26, 2010

King Tut and Lobster Mushroom Stuffing

Today, Monday, April 26th, is the last day of birthday week. Today is my actual birthday. At 1:08 pm I will officially be ahem years old... anyway,

I share my day with Carol Burnett, Stevie Nicks, Count Basie, Gracie Allen and a host of other famous and not so famous people.

Lucille Ball died on April 26th., 1989.

It has been a wonderful, fun filled week.

Yesterday was a day that was 3,430 years in the making.

Let me explain:

Liz is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in the 7th. grade. We were 12 years old and have been buddies ever since. That's a long time in friend years.

As is typical of 12-year olds we spent many hours at each other's homes. Where else do 12 year olds have to go?

As a tender preteen fresh out of St. Paul's Elementary School, Liz's family were to my young eyes, the most glamorous people I had ever met.

Fred, her father, played classical music on a huge grand piano that took up half of their large living room. Peggy, her mom, smoked long brown cigarettes and at dinner sat at the head of the table serving petite lamb chops from a silver platter.

They had worked and lived in New York City in the 40's which made them fantastically interesting and exotic (in my opinion) They both drank amber bourbon over ice from cut crystal glasses that clinked every time they set them down.

It all felt terribly sophisticated to me, one of six children whose mother didn't work and whose father drank a beer on occasion and dinner was always "family style".

Peggy was always trying to teach us culture and etiquette. Actually, she was trying to teach her daughter culture and etiquette, me and anyone else who happened to be visiting were included in the instruction.

She wanted us girls to learn how to play bridge (my parents played pinochle), or she wanted us to play the piano or watch the McNeil Report or try some odd type of food or would instruct us on the proper serving technique. We would constantly be admonished to sit up straight, cross our legs at the ankles or remove our elbows from the table.

One day, thirty years ago, when we were in our early 20's, Peggy got tickets to see the world premiere of the King Tutankhamun Exhibit; treasures of the like had never before been seen outside of Egypt. Of course, she wanted us to go. Of course, we said no. Why on earth would newly minted adults want to spend a day viewing dusty artifacts from some dead guy? Puhleeze..

Well, yesterday, this very unsophisticated, not so newly minted adult spent the day viewing the magnificent exhibit of King Tut's Tomb. The exhibit is in New York for a scant two weeks. It is making its final journey around the world (never to be in New York again) before it returns to Egypt, forever.

TBHITW and I followed up our exhibit tour with a lovely lunch at the world famous, Sardi's on West 44th Street, where I did not put my elbows on the table, even once.

Here's to you Peggy, you would have been proud of me.

I just received a sampler package of dried mushrooms from Marx Foods.

Until 2007, Marx Foods only customers were top restaurant chefs in the country. Now, they have opened up their online store to home chefs, allowing us to buy the finest and freshest foods driving current food trends.

Marx Foods is a family business. Five generations have overseen the company since its inception in 1895. They work with foragers, farmers, fisherman and artisans to supply only the finest food products available.

My most recent purchase consisted of 24 game quail, but more on that in a later post. An added bonus was a sampler package of wild foraged, dry mushrooms. Today, I'd like to share a brand new recipe I created using dried Lobster Mushrooms. You can use this stuffing for chicken, fish or vegetables. I used it to stuff eggplants and ended up with a wonderful vegetarian dinner that everyone agreed was flavorful and satisfying. Peggy would have loved this.

Lobster Mushroom Stuffing (makes about 1 cup stuffing)

1/2 ounce dried Lobster* mushrooms soaked in one cup hot water for about 10 minutes (1/2 ounce is about 1/3 cup of dried mushrooms) then squeezed dry. Reserve soaking liquid.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/4 cup reserved mushroom soaking liquid
3 tablespoons fine, dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon heavy cream

One large eggplant, peeled and sliced thin on a mandolin. (about 1/4 inch, thin enough to be pliable)

Melt the butter and oil in a small heavy skillet. Add the shallots and sweat over very low heat until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute for one minute, until fragrant. Add mushrooms, stir and saute one minute, add parsley and soaking liquid. Turn up heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons or less fine bread crumbs - be stingy with the bread crumbs, you just want the mixture to hold together. Continue to saute for one more minute to thoroughly combine flavors. Off heat stir in heavy cream. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour a thin film of olive oil on a heavy rimmed cookie sheet. Set aside.

Lay out the egg plant slices. Place about a tablespoon of stuffing on the wide end of eggplant and roll up. Secure with a toothpick. Continue until all stuffing is used.

Place oiled cookie sheet in oven for 2 minutes to heat up the oil. Place the rolled eggplants on hot cookie sheet - careful! Drizzle with a little more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and roast for 8 minutes, turn gently and roast other side of rolls for another 8 minutes. Serve hot - about 3 rolls per person.

A side salad and a hot loaf of crusty bread make a satisfying meatless meal.

*I love the color, texture and flavor of Lobster mushrooms. They have a beautiful orange/red hue and a rich, yet delicate, meaty quality to them. If you can't find Lobster Mushrooms, substitute your favorite type of fungi - fresh or dried!

A Cook's Notes: I was developing this recipe so made it several different ways, experimenting with the eggplants. Some eggplant I sliced into thick rounds, scooped out the center and placed the stuffing inside. Other eggplant slices I stuffed, then dipped in egg, then panko and baked. Everyone at the table agreed the plain roasted eggplant rolls were the best. The rolled eggplant roasted up soft and buttery and the filling added a rich, creaminess to the dish. The panko coated rolls were too much a contrast in textures - good, but not best.

Don't be afraid to experiment! Cooking, like love, should be approached with abandonment!

Legal Stuff: I am not employed, nor am I affiliated with Marx Foods in any way. I have not been asked to review their products and have not received compensation for a review. I'm just a consumer and foodie - like you!

Experimental Eggplant Proving Ground


  1. I remember being horribly embarassed to go for "family walks" with my mom and dad. Now, I crave it. I want to recreate it.

    Happy happies, my friend! I hope this day is a stellar one for you.

  2. As kids, what do we know, eh? Everything else looks so wonderful compared to our own lives. But then we grow up and realize just how fantastic our own little worlds were (and are!). Thank you for the wishes.

  3. I miss Mom everyday. By the way I did have to go to the Exhibit. There was no getting out of that for me. I'm sure I would love it if I went today. You have a great memory for your age . . . Happy Birthday to my oldest friend in the world!

  4. I forgot to mention Sardi's was Mom's favorite restaurant (back in the day - in the 40s). Of course everytime we went into the city we had to have lunch at Sardi's. Is it still great?

  5. Liz,

    Well I loved King Tut yesterday and thought about your mom and you all day long, I feel like I did go with your mom after all. I forgive you for that crack about my memory and my age only because I love you so.

    Sardi's was wonderful. I had the "Special Sardi's Appetizer".. foie gras, pate, asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon, bruchetta, a bite of frittata,french rolls and olives.. yum. A little bit of everything. Jim had the famous 5 inch club sandwich with I swear, some of the best fries every. I MUST have been channelling your mom yesterday, I didn't know Sardi's was her fav. Wow. Weird, but cool.

  6. Happy Happy Birthday! I turned another year older at 12:34 PM today. Aren't we the lucky bulls?

    Your memories are apparently vivid as I got quite a clear mental picture. Thank you for sharing!

  7. A whole Birthday week, huh? I have decide to only celebrate every ten years now that I am of a certain age. Of course, should he who gifts show up, I won't turn him away......

    Glad you had a good week.

  8. Whitney - happy birthday to you too. We ARE lucky bulls!

    Kathy - yup - a whole week - everyone in my house gets a whole week to celebrate their birthdays, they are just that important. One every ten years? You will need a month to celebrate.

  9. A belated Happy Birthday, cher! I always celebrate my birthday for a week, too! This Lobster Mushroom Stuffing looks divine and I love the way you rolled it up with the eggplant! You are so very creative!

  10. Ah, happy birthday! I'm sorry it took me so long to catch up on your blog. It's been preparation for finals. ICK.

    Did you have a lovely birthday?


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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