About a week ago, I “celebrated” the one year anniversary of purchasing my first home. Okay, okay! “Celebrated” may be too strong a word here. It was more like I realized it was the one year anniversary and gave it an honorable mention in my thoughts. It was a milestone for me not because I own my own house (though that IS pretty cool), but because I finally found my home.
What I am referring to is the community in which I live. Folks in the greater Newburyport area are gracious, warm, welcoming and committed to their community. “Buy Local” is a strong movement here and one which I gratefully support. I rarely venture to large chain stores and much prefer to frequent local, independent retailers because I like the personal touch and the “everybody knows your name” mentality. The folks at my local pet store, The Natural Dog, know me, my dog Fletch and now my “new to me” cat Big Boy.
Folks at my local wine shop, Leary’s, know me when I walk in and ask what my latest culinary creation is going to be. The owners of my local dry cleaner always comment at the “large variety” of clothes I bring in (I have a bit of a clothing addiction). My point is that I love the personal relationships that I have formed with the local retailers and my favorite of those relationships is with my butcher shop, Bucciarelli’s.
I started shopping at Bucciarelli’s when I first moved to Newburyport and have never looked back. The owners, Joe and Heidi, always had a smile and gradually got to know me as I returned over and over again for their amazing steak tips. One time, Heidi and her mother Diane (the whiz bang cook for the shop) even asked to meet my dog Fletch. So, I brought him to the store and they ventured outside to say hello and receive a slobbery greeting from Fletch. Neither one of them remembers that day but I always will because I was so struck by how nice and complimentary they were of my boy.
In any event, once I began working at Shaheen Bros. (a local food distributor) last year, it became my mission to get Bucciarelli’s as an account. I went in to reintroduce myself to Heidi and Diane in a professional capacity and low and behold, they gave me a chance and “hired” me to be their food rep. Of course, that endeared them to me even more and I truly look forward to my twice per week (oftentimes more because I’m a food hound) visits to the shop.
One of the perks of my job is that oftentimes, chefs at my accounts ask me to taste their culinary creations. Diane at Bucciarelli’s is one such person. She is always having me try this and taste that and more often than not, I am immediately hooked. A few weeks back, she had me try a bite of her new olive tapenade. I would up eating considerably more than one bite and even bought a container of it at 9:30 in the morning. Her Tabouli Salad is a new favorite and her Mac n’ Cheese? Out of this world good!!!!!
My favorite of her dishes though is, without a doubt, the Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. She had me try one a few weeks back and since then, I have been obsessed. You know how it is when you find a food you like and you can’t stop craving it, right? That’s the case here. I would wake up in the middle of the night wanting one and would find my thoughts wandering to them in the middle of the day. I was in spin class one night and wondered if people would notice if I skipped out early so I could go home and have a mushroom. Crazy, but true!
So . . . last week I got to thinking that perhaps it was time for me to try making those yummy mushrooms. Diane was excited when I asked if I could blog about her mushrooms and very graciously gave me the ingredient list. I know what you’re thinking right now. You’re thinking that I was given the recipe and what in the world is risky about that? The answer? Absolutely nothing! That’s why I had to put my own personal spin on it and add a few things to Diane’s recipe. Here’s hoping I did them justice!
Spinach and Crab Stuffed Portabellas
- 3 large Portabella Mushroom caps
- 11 oz. baby spinach
- 1 diced red pepper
- 1 minced shallot
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 sleeve of crushed unsalted saltines
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup drained lump crabmeat
- 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Add spinach, pepper, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and egg to large bowl.
- Mix ingredients thoroughly with your hands until it forms a loose ball
- Add remaining ingredients and mix again until they are just incorporated
- Add a generous amount of filling to each mushroom cap
- Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes
Diane . . . I think I’ve done you proud. They were so good I didn’t want to stop eating them. My dear friend, who is a stuffed mushroom hater, thought they were great as well and even went back for seconds.
By the way, my additions to the recipe were shallots, lemon and crabmeat. The lemon added a brightness but you could barely notice the shallot and crab. But the question is, “Were they as good as the original?” The answer is no. They were good . . . but not THAT good. Looks like you’re going to have to set some aside for me next week Diane.