Speaking of mushrooms and stuffed artichokes Speaking of mushrooms and stuffed artichokes

Speaking of mushrooms and stuffed artichokes

This morning I spoke to Roberto Angelilli, my main mushroom man here in Utah, and here’s what you can use if you want to make the old impress: BEECH MUSHROOMS.

Next time you have a dinner party, buy some beech mushrooms–brown or white. They are small clusters of white or brown mushrooms and look similar to Enoki. These are also in the oyster family but they are super-duper gourmet. So easy to prepare–either broil, grill or pan fry a small bunch of them wrapped in a thin strip of bacon. Simply cut of most of the root, but leave the mushrooms intact as a group. Serve hot for a delectable appetizer. No fuss or muss.

More about these mushrooms. they have a sweet yet mild nutty taste and keep well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Maybe longer. I always take all veggies out of plastic wraps and then put them in brown paper bags! Make sure the veggies are completely dry–not spritzed with the water the supermarkets use to keep them looking fresh.

Latin name: Hypsizygus marmoreus. Also known as Buna shimeji (brown) and Bunapi (white), and Hon Shimeji.


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Now here’s an old recipe from my Grandma: Sicilian stuffed artichokes, but first some comments on California artichokes.

They look gorgeous in the store, albeit expensive, but they aren’t like the ones we get in Italy! They are tough–leaves especially and stem, if you’re lucky enough to find one attached. They have a huge choke of hairlike projections in the heart. And most of the inner leaves have spines. I’ve tried my Italian recipes on these and they NEVER! come out the same way…at least not the whole ones cooked upside down alla Romana.

So deal with it or move to Italy.

I stuffed two of these beauties after I washed and then soaked them in water and lemon for a few hours.

Instructions:

Cut off all the VERY tough outside leaves and as many of the inner leaves with spiny projections.

Inside each row separate the leaves and pour in or push in mixed breadcrumbs. This should start to make them bulge.

For the mix:

breadcrumbs
grated cheese
salt
pepper
garlic granules or powder
oregano
parsley
paprika

Do it by eye and feel it, and if you must, taste it. No, I cannot even begin to give you measurements. Sorry. When I make this mixture, it’s as natural to me as breathing. If you don’t use it all, refrigerate.

Then irrigate the entire artichoke with olive oil and 1/2 squeezed lemon. Finish with a generous splash of white wine. I cooked these covered in about 1/2 inch of water and a little oil for two hours. They were STILL too HARD at the bottom of the leaves! So now I’ve decided the only way to make these decently is to cook in the pressure cooker. Peel the stem to its inner core and cut into 2 inch pieces and circle the artichoke with them.

Use at least an inch or two of water for the pressure cooker. I would place the artichoke on a rack. Probably 1/2 hr from the time the little doohickey thing on the top starts to dance…lower to lowest heat when it does and then begin to time. Let the cooker rest completely before removing the top, or you may run the cooker under cold water so that the valve lowers and it’s safe to open.

Your kids will love eating with their hands! Let them pick the artichoke apart leaf by leaf and scrape and pull the inside of the leaf and stuffing off from top to bottom with their teeth. When you get to the choke cut it out with the knife tip in an fairly deep and rotate it till all the “hair” comes out and only the heart, like the deep well of a volcano, remians. Makes a great appetizer

Go for it.