That, and sometimes I'm just not as smart as I like to think I look.
I mean, what could go wrong with this recipe, right? It was developed by Jamie Oliver, who has the only cooking show I still watch these days, and was heartily gushed about by Molly Wizenberg, who has arguably become one of my favorite food writers. And she made these mushrooms sound positively luscious.
So what did I do? Well, I filed it away for future reference and then, week after week, came upon it and thought, "Oh, yeah. I really ought to try that sometime."
In my defense, I was waiting for the day (which never did come, I might add), when I would find some local wild mushrooms at the farmer's market. This recipe is such a simple one, with only a handful of ingredients, that I knew it would be in tip-top form only with the best-quality inputs. And truly, even though Orangette made it sound mouth-wateringly close-your-eyes-and-moan scrumptious, I was still just a tad bit suspicious. After all, how could some sliced mushrooms topped with a little melted cheese really be such a delectable treat?
I have trust issues.
Finally, earlier this week, I was making a mad dash through the supermarket on a desperate soy milk run when I came to a screeching halt directly in front of a display of cremini mushrooms. Normally, especially in the summer when I'm flush with locally-grown veggies, I don't even cut my eyes to the side while rushing through the store to pick up staples, but the pull was just too strong this time. I fought the urge for a split second and then threw the package into my cart, knowing full well that I had an extra ball of mozzarella in my fridge that needed to be used and fast.
I don't even remember what else I made for dinner that night. The mushrooms were THAT good. So good, in fact, that after my eyes rolled back in my head with the first bite, I started pulling the serving dish closer and closer to my end of the table. I love my family, but not quite enough to share these. And it's kind of sad to admit this, but I wolfed them down so quickly that only minutes later, I was completely unable to actually describe their taste - not really an ideal position for an amateur aspiring food writer to find herself.
I knew I had to share this recipe though. Not having words to describe the flavor is NOT a good excuse to keep this all to myself. Really, you will love it. Would you just trust me, just this one time?
'Course, you might have trust issues, too. Lucky for us all, I've had uncontrollable hankerings for these mushrooms all week, and The Big Boy has been hassling me to death about them, so I made them again just now for a little snack.
They're enchanting, I tell you. And the taste is, oh, for pity's sake, it's truly indescribable. Have you heard of that supposed fifth flavor, umami? That word was, I swear, invented for this exact recipe. I'm not out on much of a limb with that theory either, since umami is in fact used to describe the flavor of mushrooms.
Each bite of these little slices of mushroom has hints of sweetness from the cheese that plays beautifully off the slight saltiness of the dish. And just those few short minutes under the broiler cook the mushrooms to the most perfect texture, enough to bring out the tenderness and to make them ooze a little bit of juice into the platter, where it marries with the olive oil to create the most ambrosial bread-dipping sauce you've ever had.
If I had any more mushrooms, I would make them again right now. And I wouldn't share.
MUSHROOMS WITH MOZZARELLA (adapted from Orangette and Jamie's Italy, yield: never enough)
- 4 oz wild mushrooms, sliced thinly (about 1/4-inch thickness)
- 2 to 3 oz fresh mozzarella
- tsp or so good-quality olive oil
- pinch of dried Italian seasoning, dried thyme, or 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- pinch of kosher salt
- Wait until no one else is around so you don't have to share.
- In an ovenproof platter or small casserole dish (about 8-inch by 8-inch), lay the mushroom slices in a single layer.
- Pinch off nickel-sized pieces of the mozzarella and scatter over the mushrooms.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Sprinkle with the herbs and salt.
- Place under the broiler for about 2 minutes, just until the cheese is bubbly and brown in spots (see photo above).
- Serve immediately, with bread to sop up the crazy-good juices in the bottom of the dish.