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As we wrote in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide, Cooking with the Muse is “more than just a cookbook with 150 international recipes; it’s a feast of words and images sprinkled generously with poetry.” The book is a real art piece, and it belongs to a genre of its own. It’s visually beautiful enough to be a coffee table book, but its heft and recipes elevate it to a place that’s far more important.
“We like to think of it as a dining table book,” laugh Stephen Massimilla and Myra Kornfeld, the book’s husband-and-wife team of co-authors.
It’s a perfect description—and perfect, too, are the recipes that flesh out the book’s 500 pages. Here is one of our favorites.
Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Chestnuts, Apples, and Wild Rice
Pick up a lovely Italian portobello mushroom. Firm and moist in your hungry palm, tidy and luxurious at once, it can become the centerpiece of your feast. Stuff it with everything voluptuously autumnal—a festive rosemary-flecked mix of wild rice, chestnuts, apples, and hot shiitakes. The shiitakes, the portobello’s Japanese cousins, are roasted in olive oil and natural soy sauce until they turn irresistibly crispy. If desired, halfway through the cooking, top everything off with a medallion of savory garlic-herb goat cheese and bake until crusty.
Since portobellos shrink and become succulent as they bake, be sure to purchase beautiful mushrooms that have shouldered the leafy earth aside and risen unperturbed to assert their plumpness. Carefully scrape out their wood-dark gills. And for richest results, cook the wild rice in vegetable stock. In the shadowy coolness of the fall, serve hot.
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons shoyu (natural soy sauce) or tamari
1 cup small-diced red onions
1/2 cup jarred (cooked and peeled) chestnuts, cut into pieces
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice (1 cup)
1 cup cooked wild rice (see the Cook’s Note)
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
5 medium-large portobello mushrooms
Extra virgin olive oil
Goat Cheese Topping (optional but recommended)
4 ounces creamy goat cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Have ready two parchment paper–covered baking sheets.
2. Make the filling: Remove and discard the shiitake stems, and chop the caps into pieces. You should have 2 1/2 cups chopped shiitakes. Toss the shiitakes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the shoyu, and spread a baking sheet. Bake, tossing every 10 minutes, until crispy, 25 to 30 minutes.
3. Warm the remaining tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the chestnuts and apples and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until tender. Stir in the shiitakes, wild rice, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Taste, and add a sprinkling more salt if necessary.
5. Lighly beat the egg in a medium bowl. Stir in the cooked filling until well combined.
6. Make the mushrooms: Remove the stems from the portobellos. Wipe the caps with a damp paper towel to remove any grit. Scrape out the gills carefully with a spoon and discard. Drizzle each mushroom inside the cap with a teaspoon of olive oil and add a sprinkling of salt. Place on another baking sheet. Distribute the filling among the mushrooms. Loosely cover the whole sheet with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
7. While the portobellos are baking, make the topping (if using): Mix the cheese with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Remove the portobellos from the oven and top the middle of each mushroom with a medallion of cheese. Alternatively, you might want to dot the cheese on top.
8. Bake the portobellos, uncovered, for 20 minutes more, until the cheese is set and the mushrooms are completely tender. (Even if you’re not adding the cheese, uncover the mushroom for the last 20 minutes of baking.) Serve hot.
To cook the wild rice, place 1/3 cup wild rice in a small pot with 1 1/2 cups stock. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or so, until the rice is tender and some of it has burst open. You have to check on the rice in order to decide when it’s done: You don’t want all of the rice grains to burst open, only some. If you soak the rice overnight, drain it before cooking. The rice cooks much faster when it has been soaked, in about 25 minutes.
The word portobello may seem to translate as “beautiful port”; however, it actually appears to be an alteration of the Italian pretarolo for “meadow mushroom,” from prato, meaning “meadow.” Skeptics contest that mushroom vendors just made the name up, or that it derives from the fashionable Portobello Road in London.
For more on Cooking with the Muse, check out Kelly Ann Smith’s story on the book and its authors here.