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On Ryan’s Plate: Take This Mushroom and Stuff It

October 14, 2011

Hi friends! I came home from class last night to find Ryan hard at work in the kitchen:

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I’m telling you, he’s really taking these On Ryan’s Plate posts to the next level! Without further ado…

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Tonight’s dinner of stuffed portabella mushrooms and fettuccine with broccoli required not one, not two, not three, but all four burners running on full blast:

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Cooking wise, keeping track of this many pots and pans is a stretch for me. But thinking about the meal, the real stretch is represented by my full scale embrace of a food I once despised.

Let’s take a trip back in time, to the halcyon days of 1998, a simpler era when the double whammy of Armageddon/Deep Impact gripped the nation with asteroid fever, and the R&B group Next titillated us with a saucy ditty about getting real excited, dancing “Too Close.” A naïve, fresh faced Ryan Weber was ready to leave the cushy nest of home and settle into a slightly larger, slightly cushier nest of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.  Pepperdine was a new, strange, refined world, with a Films of Mel Gibson class and a shuttle for students who couldn’t muster the five minute walk to class (Tia and Tamera Mowery, I’m talking to you).

But to be honest, despite being a sophisticated, jean shorts-wearing, Austin Powers-quoting 18 year old, I didn’t fully appreciate all the finery that Pepperdine had to offer, especially when it came to the cafeteria. Our cafeteria was newly remodeled, and they spared no expense adding touches that absolutely no college student will appreciate, offering dishes like Corn and Pablano cakes and Tom Kai Gai soup served by chefs who beautifully plated every meal with a lovingly-placed sprig of parsley (I’m pretty sure one students’ tuition went solely to fund the school’s annual parsley supply). While the cafeteria might have been a foodie’s dream, most college students just want a normal meal, like three day old pizza or a hamburger patty dipped in chili shoved between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

The foodie detail that I appreciate least was the cafeteria’s offering of portabella mushrooms (see, this post is coming back around to its main topic). Every day while I waited in line for my cheeseburger like a red-blooded American, the chefs tried to pawn portabella mushrooms on us, and I had never seen anything more disgusting. Who would voluntarily ingest a giant fungus still caked in dirt? At that point, why not just eat some mold? (Actually, considering the cleanliness level of my college apartment kitchen, I probably ate a significant amount of mold during those years). A portabella? No thank you, sir. I will take the dinosaur chicken nuggets with a side of tater tots, please.

But tastes change. You grow up. Eventually, you throw away the jean shorts (well, Anna threw those away) and you realize Austin Powers isn’t funny anymore (well, most of us do). And in the past few years, I have surprised myself by coming to love portabella mushrooms. Frequently, I have chosen one over my once beloved cheeseburger. A few weeks ago when Anna was out of town, instead of reverting to my bachelor eating habits, I actually made a portabella burger for myself. Somewhere, those Pepperdine chefs are smiling while they cook a delicious ricotta mac and cheese for some 19 year old jackass who asks if this is the kind of macaroni that comes in the blue box.

Tonight’s recipe perfectly illustrate why I’ve come to love portabellas. They’re meaty and filling yet mild, satisfying on their own but a perfect vehicle for all kinds of stuffing – in tonight’s case, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bread crumbs, mozzarella, and yes, parsley. And the mushrooms pair well with the side of fettuccine and broccoli in homemade alfredo sauce.

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Yeah Baby!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 1:02 pm

    OK, that does it. On your next trip to Shreveport, you’re going to be a guest chef for one night. Homemade Alfredo Sauce – I’m very impressed!

    • October 14, 2011 1:07 pm

      And it was GOOD, too! I thought it might have a strange texture or something, but it was really tasty!

  2. October 14, 2011 1:14 pm

    That meal looks amazing! I want Ryan to cook for me 🙂

  3. October 14, 2011 1:37 pm

    Perfect!!!! I love that Ryan is such a good cook!

  4. October 14, 2011 1:41 pm

    Incredibly impressive Ryan! My husband’s turn to cook would’ve meant Annie’s mac n cheese with broccoli, not quite the same 😉

  5. October 14, 2011 1:41 pm

    OMG! Ryan, you’re hired. This was great. “Jean shorts-wearing, Austin Powers-quoting 18 year old…” LOL! You and my husband have so much in common in the fashion department. As of recently, I have him convinced that tube socks and shorts are, in no way, acceptable. With khakis or gym shorts. Amen. But the whole 4 burners thing. I shudder to think what we’d end up with if he were behind them. Anna, you’re one lucky gal! 😉

  6. October 14, 2011 2:11 pm

    I love that you’re on the couch, Anna, and Ryan was the one slaving away 🙂

    • October 14, 2011 2:47 pm

      And he cleaned up after too, while I watched tv!! Being pregnant has its perks 🙂

  7. Kristi permalink
    October 14, 2011 5:38 pm

    HA! Love it that you’re still hanging out in jeans and t-shirt. “Once a NW’er…” or “You can take a NW’er out of the NW, but…” or just kewl. Guessing, tho, that you no longer have the t-shirt of the family reunion of strangers.
    And, when I was at Pepperdine, we were certain that parsley was a potent anaphrodisiac.

  8. October 14, 2011 7:02 pm

    I can’t believe you threw out Ryan’s jorts. They’re coming back in style!

    • October 14, 2011 7:26 pm

      Don’t tell him that. I think he might have kept a few pairs hidden away from me.

  9. October 14, 2011 8:05 pm

    I love the Halloween dish towel! So cute

  10. October 14, 2011 9:59 pm

    Those pillows! I remember when you posted about those. They’re adorable. Oh, and the food looks awesome. Would he cook for us?? 🙂

  11. October 14, 2011 10:07 pm

    Yummy looking mushroom!

  12. October 15, 2011 1:20 am

    Ya gotta love a man that cooks…especially a meal like that! YUM!

  13. aunt nita permalink
    October 15, 2011 4:01 am

    Ryan had a summer of delectable delights as he stayed at 127 South Sparks and the kitchen was being remodeled. The makeshift kitchen was in the dining room and dishes were done in the bathtub. Loved the post! Excited for the bambino.

  14. October 15, 2011 2:36 pm

    Not liking mushrooms is such a plothole in my life!! But I loved Ryan’s backstory… Austin Powers is totally not funny anymore! Such a shame…

  15. October 16, 2011 12:20 pm

    that is awesome. i am so happy when my husband cooks dinner when I’m working late. usually it’s just chicken, but I’ll have to show him this recipe and see if he’ll do it!

  16. October 16, 2011 12:21 pm

    not sure why that came up with my blog instead of my name but sorry 🙂

  17. October 17, 2011 8:37 pm

    Good Lord, ya’ll are a riot! Best of luck with the baby growing 🙂 P.S. I’ve got those same earrings 🙂


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