Kitchen Accomplice-'There Should Be A Fungus Among Us!'

  When planning a party, your recipe card for these stuffed mushrooms should be well within reach. 
  The recipe is simple, economical, delicious and both easy to serve and easy to eat without a lot of fuss. 
  I’ll give you a recipe that has become a favorite of our guests over the years.  You can do a lot of this before the doorbell rings.  But the best ones are finished just before serving. 
  I do them in batches, so as soon as one platter is devoured (it won’t take long) you can be ready with another -- fresh from the oven.
  If you are having a crowd, I would use napkins, not cocktail  plates.  They are a nuisance to guests holding a glass, trying to shake hands and nibble at the same time. 
  If this is a gathering where people will be seated, I would have cocktail plates handily available along with table space to put them while guests are taking a breather. 
In either event have some attractive waste receptacles so your guests are not required to toss what they don’t choose to chomp into the nearest potted palm – al la Rosalind Russell in “Auntie Mame.”
  A word about preparation and service. 
  You will notice as you go through this recipe there is last minute activity taking place.  In fact, it may be going on while you wish to be with your guests instead of being in the kitchen. 
  If you stretch your thinking, you will come up with that someone whom you can trust to deal with both preparation and service of these gems – perhaps a college student at home just now, a trusted sitter, housekeeper, etc. 
  If you opt for assistance, I cannot stress enough the importance of meeting with this person well in advance to go over the drill and your expectations.  You may even find it helpful to print out the instructions and tape them on a cabinet door. 
  To my wife’s consternation, that is a favorite methodology for me.
  Here is a classic.

Stuffed Mushrooms

18-24 button or cremini mushrooms, sponged clean, stems removed
1 tablespoon butter
2 small shallots, minced, about 2 tablespoons
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 tablespoon Panko bread flakes
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small sauté pan over medium high heat. 
Sauté the shallots for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. 
Add the garlic, the walnuts and sprinkle with sea salt. 
Stir well and sauté for 2 minutes.  
Turn off the heat and add parsley, herbes de Provence and Panko bread flakes. 
Pour the sherry into a food processor, then add the rest of the filling. 
Pulse several times to get a fine mixture, not quite, but almost a paste.
Toss the mushroom caps with olive oil and fill each one with the stuffing. 
Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over each filled cap and bake 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown. 
Cool for 5 minutes before serving, just about the time it takes to put them on an attractive serving dish.  If you use foil, you can just reline the baking pan for the next batch.
The recipe can easily be scaled upward - doubled or tripled.
Sponge the mushrooms well first. I avoid putting them directly under running water – they soak up too much of the water to suit me. 
Pat them dry, then just snap out the stems. They'll come out easily, no need to use a knife.
For parties, make the stuffing and have the mushrooms cleaned and stems removed ahead of time.
But don't fill and bake them until you are getting ready to serve: once cooked, stuffed mushrooms do not hold up well for long periods. Bake some, serve and repeat.

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge. He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. 
He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges and can be reached at: