Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mushrooms -- and a 6 degrees of separation movie moment

I wish I had invented the recipe Mushrooms Berkeley.  Just like I wish I had invented the Internet, Cheetos and the Chia Pet.

But alas, I didn't.

I simply found Mushrooms Berkeley in a cook book called "The Vegetarian Epicure," which had been given to me back in the early 1970s when somebody obviously thought I should embrace vegetarianism. This generous gift-giver didn't know me very well -- or was possibly slightly put off by the hunk of rare prime rib permanently hanging from the corner of my mouth -- because I am as carnivorous as they come. And hate most cooked vegetables, to boot. I guess it's the thought that counts, right?

Sad to say, given my commitment to MEAT, The Vegetarian Epicure was pretty much lost on me at the time. But I did discover Mushrooms Berkeley and it became a one of my tried-and-true "fancy" dishes in my early years of culinary exploration. Well, until the day I gave away my copy of "The Vegetarian Epicure". . . without copying down the recipe.

I thought Mushrooms Berkeley was lost to me forever.

And, please don't ask, "Well, why didn't you just GOOGLE it?" Because it never occurred to me to GOOGLE it, that's why. 

Does it concern you I hold a position that carries a relatively high level of responsibility in higher education public relations and marketing? 

It does me.

So track back to Christmas and Bermtopia-by-the-Sea. Lo and behold, the innkeepers had outfitted BBTS with the original "The Vegetarian Epicure" and Mushrooms Berkeley and I were once again one. I scribbled down the recipe, amidst little squeaky "Oohs" and "Ahhs, " and it survived several months in my purse. I made it this weekend, and we snarfed tonight it with a little steak and rough-mashed taters.

Can I make just one recommendation?

Make Mushrooms Berkeley. Soon.

And the 6 degrees of move separation? Yeah, there's point here too:

When she's not being a vegetarian epicure, cook book author Anna Thomas writes screenplays. Most notably, two of my lifetime favorite indies: "El Norte" and "Mi Familia." Find them. Watch them.

And eat Mushrooms Berkeley every day of your life.

Mushrooms Berkeley
Serves 4-6

Thank you, Anna  Thomas and "The Vegetarian Epicure"

1 lb mushrooms, halved
1 medium bell peppers (Early in the game, I realized I don't like green peppers. This works just as well with red, yellow and/or orange), cut in 1-inch squares
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 c butter


2 T Dijon mustard
2 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 c brown sugar
3/4 c mellow red table wine
Fresh ground black pepper
Seasoned salt

Melt butter and saute onions till clear.

While saute-ing make sauce. Mix together mustard, brown sugar, and worcestershire sauce till perfectly smooth. Add the wine, season with lots of fresh ground pepper, seasoned salt to taste. Stir well

When onion is clear, add the mushrooms and peppers and saute. As the mushrooms begin to brown and reduce in size, add the sauce.

Now simmer at medium for about 45 minutes or till sauce is reduced and thickened. According to Anna Thomas, "The mushrooms and peppers will be very dark and evil looking but irresistible in flavor and aroma." (She said it, I didn't.)

P.S. And, yes. I probably will go buy another copy of "The Vegetarian Epicure." I had forgotten what a good cook book it is.

To paraphrase, vegetables are wasted on the young.

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