Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot with:
1½ tablespoons salt
(1 bay leaf)
While the water comes to a boil, render over...
I feel as if Americans have a knack for making joyous events stressful. There are television shows based on the premise that weddings are stressful (there are shows based on the premise that picking out a wedding dress is stressful for crying out loud). But the good thing about the vicious cycle of overdoing it is that you can stop at any time. Really.
This is essentially how I feel about cooking. It shouldn't stress you out. So many people seem to feel that cooking is difficult, and this always baffles me. Our illiterate ancestors cooked, and they were using wood fires and vastly inferior cookware. We have so many conveniences at our disposal these days that there's no reason we can't whip up a little something without getting our knickers wadded up.
And this is just that: a little something for a gathering. Maybe you're going to a friend's house to celebrate the New Year. Maybe you're having people over. Maybe you're just staying in and having a quiet night. No matter what you're doing, these will fit the bill. They could even be a side dish of sorts. And really, you can take this idea and go any number of places with it. Stuffed mushrooms are not a new or innovative concept--they've been around for a long time, but this is a testament to their tastiness. You can easily scale this recipe up for larger gatherings (or very hungry folks).
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Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Clean and stem:
24 large-ish cremini (button) mushrooms
Melt in a medium sauté pan over medium heat:
2 tablespoons butter
Add and sauté until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes:
16 ounces leeks, trimmed, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced thinly
Add and stir to combine:
2 tablespoons cream
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove from the heat. Place the mushrooms upside down in a baking pan and fill with the leek mixture. Top with:
Shredded Gruyère cheese (you will need about 4 ounces total)
Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the mushrooms are tender.