Sunday, November 4, 2012

Clam-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sometimes you want stuffed clams but the amount of breading holds you back.  This recipe for clams stuffed in mushroom caps with garlic, oregano and red pepper can satisfy your craving.  And if you want to add a few breadcrumbs sprinkled on top with the Parmesan cheese, you’ll hear no argument from this household.  Either way the dish is fit for company.

Clam Stuffed Mushrooms
12 mushroom caps (baby bella or button)
1 can clams, drained (reserve juice)
2 T cream cheese
2 T diced red pepper
2 green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F while you prepare the mushrooms.  Line a small baking sheet with tin foil.  
  2. Clean off any dirt from the mushrooms using a light touch with a paper towel or a mushroom brush.  
  3. Chop the clams a bit more finely that they come from the can so that they pack well into the mushrooms.  
  4. In a small bowl mix together the cream cheese with red pepper, green onions, garlic and herbs.  Stir in the clams. Moisten with clam juice as needed.  The mixture should hold together.  
  5. Divide clam mixture among mushroom, mounding each cap with filling.  Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese over each stuffed cap.  
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and cheese is melted.  Serve hot. 

Your Own Dried Parsley

Drying your own herbs is no big deal. Next time you buy a big bunch of fresh parsley for a specific dish, take half and dry it.  You will notice right away that it is greener than what you normally purchase.  
Here’s how:
Wash the parsley and pick out any dead leaves or damaged stems.  Roll in a paper towel to dry.
When dry, tie stems together with kitchen twine (cotton) leaving one long end so that you will be able to hang the herb with the leaves facing downwards.  Hang the herbs out of direct sunlight in a dry spot that gets a little ventilation. 
If you do not have a convenient rafter or empty closet rod, tie the long end of the string to a dowel (or ruler) and place the stick on a shelf, nestled between a few books in a little traveled area of the house. 
Check the herbs as they dry (a few days depending on room temperature) and when leaves are dry store the bundle in a paper bag or pull dried leaves from the stem and store in a small airtight bottle. 

When using dried herbs, always allow time for the herb to absorb moisture to develop fullest flavor.  Use dried parsley in pasta sauces, potato salad, egg dishes, meatloaf and even cottage cheese. 

Note: This is the first blog post following Sandy, the storm that hit the east coast at the close of October, 2012.  This entry was planned a few weeks ago and today it seems odd to write about the joys of a simple appetizer while we wait to have power restored to all affected areas and hope for viable recovery for the most hard hit among us.  This blog's purpose is to make suggestions on how to eat more pure foods within our fast paced food environment.  The ability to prepare healthy food as well as to obtain it is part of the solution to feeding our country better. During the power outage we were grateful to have healthy fresh food on hand, a well-stocked pantry and the skills to cook on a camp stove.  Helping out a nearby shelter last week, we met people who were not so lucky.  At these times, we are reminded that to sit with one another at the table is warming and nourishing as well.