Tag Archives: baked mushrooms

Spring Day feast


Happy Spring Day to those in the southern hemisphere! Sorry my northern friends, I¬†don’t mean to rub it in that your warm weather is slowly seeping southwards ūüėČ

But winter isn’t over for us¬†yet ‚Äď it was absolutely freezing icy cold this morning. When we went to church we¬†joined huddles¬†of hunched-over¬†people¬†wrapped in¬†thick coats and jerseys. Even the heartiest singing didn’t warm us up today!

Thankfully, though, Jozi is usually sunny even when it’s cold, so as I write here this afternoon I have warm bright sunshine flooding my desk… and cheerfully¬†highlighting all the dust I haven’t got around to cleaning… Meh.

Anyway, enough of that. What I’m really here to write about is the delightful Spring Day feast I made for Ninja and my parents today. My folks were originally coming over to meet their new ‘grandrats’, but since that’s been delayed we just turned it into a celebration of the first day of spring.

Spring Day 2013

Spring Day 2013

For the decor I chose mismatched and cheerful colours, using what I had around the house instead of spending extra on new fancy stuff. For example, I had these bright orange paper cups in the cupboard, so I just prettied them up with spring-themed flower stickers.

For Marzipan

For Marzipan

I used my multicoloured bamboo placemats and colourful serviettes left over from my first special dinner. Ninja had also bought these cool 3D/holographic bookmarks for each of us, so we gave my mom the horsey one and my dad the eagly one (oops, couldn’t resist inventing a word there).

For Daz

For Daz

I also snipped a few sprigs off a jasmine bush to use as our centrepiece. I so enjoy the scent of those flowers: it always tells me my favourite season has arrived at last.



And now for the best part: the food ūüėÄ I made us a three-course meal as follows:

Spring Day menu

Spring Day menu

In case you can’t see the¬†text on the¬†pic, our starters were those mini pizza mushrooms that I first made for this dinner and then again for this dinner. I also recently hosted my in-laws for lunch and made it for them too. In fact,¬†I could quite easily make that starter for every fancy dinner for as long as I live, and never tire of it. Those ‘shrooms¬†are just so darn delicious!!!

The main course was ham and spring onion clafoutis with roasted cherry tomatoes and avocado with basil pesto mayo. This is where I had the most fun, since I love experimenting with new dishes and flavours. (I’m determined not to lose that interest even though I no longer have as much spare time for experimenting as I had before…).

I’d never made a clafoutis (say: ‘klafootee’)¬†before, but I based my recipe on this one and simply substituted ham and spring onions for the basil and tomatoes. I also used four¬†small ramekins rather than one big dish.¬†It’s such a simple and easy recipe, and my family enjoyed it (though we all added some extra salt, without which it would have¬†tasted far too mild and milky).

Tomatoes ready for the oven

Tomatoes ready for the oven

The roasted cherry tomatoes are an idea shared with me by my best friend. She first made it for me with pasta and wilted spinach (oh, how well¬†we ate that day!), but the tomatoes work perfectly on their own too. Simply wash them, pop them in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with whatever herbs and spices you like (I used origanum, pepper, chives¬†and salt). Then bake them for 30 minutes at 180 ¬įC ‚Äď which was ideal in this case because that’s the same as for¬†the clafoutis, so I baked them together.

Savoury clafoutis with roasted tomatoes and avo with basil pesto mayo

Savoury clafoutis with roasted tomatoes and avo with basil pesto mayo

As you can see from the pic above, the poor clafoutis had no patience with me fussing with the photography… it started to deflate almost as soon as I took it from the oven ūüėõ Still delicious though.

The basil pesto mayo was also a hit (with everyone except my plain-eating husband, hehe). Since I enjoy basil but can’t eat the garlic they usually put in commercial pestos, I decided to make my own pesto. As a replacement for the pine nuts used in standard pestos, I added a few spoons of ground almonds. Hmmm. Didn’t¬†do much for me.¬†Then I simply mixed up low-fat mayo and milk, and¬†stirred tiny shreds of fresh¬†basil into the mix. Yum! A perfect complement to the plain avocado, with none of the disadvantages (for me at least) of using garlic.

And the dessert of fresh strawberries and hot marshmallow sauce? That’ll be my next post ūüôā


Cheesy stuffed mushrooms


Oh. My. Goodness. Why have I lived this long before trying out stuffed mushrooms?!?! They are incredible!! At least, the ones I made for our 7-course dinner starters were. I’ve heard it said many times that you shouldn’t try out a new recipe for a dinner party, in case it’s a dismal failure and you spend the rest of the event with your culinary tail between your legs. But when I was searching for starters for our meal, the various recipes I found for baked mushrooms seemed so easy that¬†I wasn’t worried about them making their debut at our dinner. (As with the appetisers I made, there’s a myriad options for filling mushrooms. The recipe below catered to our specific taste preferences, but you could add virtually any stuffing you’d like.)


8 large brown mushrooms

4 T bacon bits, fried and chopped

4 sundried tomatoes

1 t water

1 t olive oil

1 T butter


Herbs of your choice (I used dried origanum, dried chives and black pepper)

1/2 C cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes

1 C mozzarella cheese, grated


1. Using a kitchen scissors, snip the tomatoes into little shreds. Mix in a small bowl with the herbs, water and oil. Leave to soak until needed.

Sundried tomatoes

2. With a sharp paring knife, cut out the stems of the mushrooms. Finely chop up these stems.

3. Melt the butter in a pot and fry the stems with the bacon and the crumbs. Add the tomato mix.

4. Fill the mushrooms with the fried mixture.

5. Add a few cheddar cubes to each mushroom, and top with grated mozzarella.

Stuffed mushrooms

6. Bake the mushrooms on a greased baking tray at 200 ¬įC for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly¬†browned.

7. Carefully remove from tray and eat immediately.

Cheesy baked mushrooms


1. I found that greasing the tray was really important so that the mushrooms came off easily.

2. My menu for our dinner said that these would be crumbed mushrooms, but they looked so good when they came out of the oven that I completely forgot to add extra crumbs on top!

3. I had already fried and chopped the bacon separately the day before, so I just added it when stuffing the mushrooms.

4. You can also make the filling of stems, tomato and crumbs a couple of hours beforehand. Just keep it in the fridge until you need it.

Ninja’s verdict on this course: ‘Magic! Magic mushrooms!’

My verdict: I could have happily eaten this for each of the 7 courses, haha! They tasted like mini mushroom pizzas.¬†These will definitely become part of our regular mushroom treats ūüôā