Monday, December 14, 2015

Dallas On My Mind - Portobellos Latinos

Happy last day of Hanukkah.  By the way, can someone please tell the City of Kissimmee that "Festival of Lights" is not a Christmas reference?

Some mornings I wish I was Pam Ewing.

Baby Boomers and early Baby Busters have likely already figured out the reference. Generation X-ers and Millennials are probably clueless, but then, those generations watch "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and "The Real Housewives of Pick Your Favorite Jurisdiction", and worse, think that the reality TV lifestyle is something to aspire to.          

Baby Boomers had night time soap operas, like "Dallas" and "Dynasty" which were uniformly super-glitzy and uber-dramatic, which I suppose also describes today's reality shows, but in defense of us Boomers, those shows were fiction. Real people did not live like that, or think like that, or behave like that, and if they did, the media did not promote them and swoon all over them.

Back to Pam Ewing - something terrible happens to Pam and her beloved husband Bobby Ewing:

Pam lives a terrible year of pain and grief, and the Nielsen ratings sink like the Titanic. Then one day, she wakes up as usual, preparing to face another horrible day, when she hears something or someone in her bathroom.

Quick! Call the police! Call J.R.! Call ...

Bobby? BOBBY? But Bobby's dead! Isn't he?

Nah, it was just a bad dream. All of last season was just a bad dream!

And that's why I wish I was Pam Ewing.

I don't have good days anymore. Every single day of my life I am in pain. Every single day I wake up and in that brief micro second before my brain and my body reconnect, I think everything is okay. I feel guilty for putting one over on everybody, making them think I'm permanently disabled. (One of the medical genuises actually had the nerve to say "I can't write down that you are permanently disabled just because you don't feel like working anymore.") And then, my back and legs seize up in pain and I realize that I have nothing over which to feel guilty. Besides, my husband believes me. He went out and watered all my porch plants, without even being asked, because he knew I couldn't handle the job. My son believes me. If I ask him to mop the upstairs hall or take out the recycling, he does so immediately. Cheerfully.

And my cat believes me.

Anakin long ago claimed this kitchen step stool as his personal throne, and we have accommodated him, at least until recently. He even receives his little crunchy treats on the stool.

First of all, we do not have any kind of table and chairs in the kitchen. Second, I can no longer stand for long periods of time while cooking, and I often take a rest by sitting atop the same step stool.  In the past, Anakin has expressed his displeasure by meowing or shooting me a dirty look. But today he showed us just how smart he is and what a good heart he has. He moved to the lower step so that we could both enjoy his step stool.

My cat is a mensch.

A few days ago I prepared this filling for portobello mushrooms. Usually mushrooms are filled with Italian flavors or spinach-based stuffing, but I wanted to try something totally different. Thus, these Portobellos Latinos, which I originally dubbed Portobellos Mexicanos, but there were those pigeon peas (gandules), so maybe Portobellos Puertoriquenos but what about that chorizo? and I renamed it. I finished filling the mushrooms and baking them off a day or two later. That refrigerated nap did not harm the filling; on the contrary, it seemed to mellow the spice which improved the overall flavor.

12 large whole portobello mushrooms, stemmed and gills scraped out
Butter flavor no-stick spray
garlic infused olive oil and butter
1 regular size bag Success Rice, cooked according to package directions
1 medium bell pepper, any color or combination of colors
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded, ribs removed, chopped fine
1 bunch fresh cilantro, divided
1 - 15 oz. can Goya gandules verdes (green pigeon peas), drained
1 - 12 oz. package La Banderita Chorizo Fino
1 - 8 oz. bag each shredded pepper jack cheese and mozzarella
Optional - small amount shredded cheddar

Place the cooked rice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Sauté the bell pepper, onions, garlic, and jalapeño in a small amount of garlic infused olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons of butter, until softened and the onion is just beginning to brown around the edges. Lower the heat, add the pigeon peas to the skillet, and continue to cook until the peas are warmed all the way through. With a slotted spoon, move the skillet contents to the bowl of rice and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with foil or waxed paper and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the chorizo by removing from the casing and using the slotted metal spoon to gently break it apart as it cooks. The cooked chorizo should have a little bit of crustiness here and there, but avoid overcooking. With the slotted spoon move the chorizo to the bowl, letting the excess grease drip off.  Stir in some fresh chopped cilantro. Re-cover the bowl and either let it cool to room temperature or refrigerate until you are ready to stuff the mushrooms.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the mushrooms cap side up in two baking pans. Spray lightly with the butter flavor no-stick, then put in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Watch to make sure they don't burn.  Turn them over and cool to room temperature. With a peper towel, gently soak up any excess liquid that may have formed  in the mushroom.  Sprinkle some cheddar cheese just to line the bottom of the mushroom, and return to the oven until the cheese melts.

Fill the mushrooms using 1-2 ice cream scoops of stuffing for each cap. Do not pat the stuffing down. Place 1-2 slices of cheese on top of each pile of stuffing. Return to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the stuffing is heated through. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.


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