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Very unusually I’ve done no cooking at all this weekend.  I’m just back from a lovely weekend away near Skipton on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.  We went with my partner’s family and his parents had all the catering under control so we got to chill out, do jigsaws and wear the dogs out with ball games and beautiful walks.  My contribution was homemade granola and these chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut oaties which both went down well.

View towards Lothersdale

View towards Lothersdale

So, with no recent cooking to report on I thought I’d share an old student favourite.  I’ve been cooking this crispy mushroom layer recipe for at least the past 25 years!  The ingredients look too simple to be anything special but they combine to create a really tasty, satisfying dish.

For a long time we couldn’t remember where this recipe came from but I picked up a copy of Linda McCartney’s “Linda’s Kitchen” in our local charity shop and there it was.  And then my auntie let me know that she’d spotted it when she was browsing through her old copy of the original Cranks recipe book.  So who knows where we found it. 

In the original recipe the dish is layered, alternating the mushroom mixture and crumbs and making sure you end with a crumb layer on top.  However, when I took these photos I hadn’t read the recipe because, well, I don’t need to I’ve made it so often (!), and I completely forgot about the layering, instead putting all the mushrooms on the bottom and all the crumbs on the top – and it worked really well.

Mushroom layer

The Italian-style hard cheese (a vegetarian replacement for parmesan) is completely optional – I often don’t include it and it’s nice either way.  On this occasion I also had some spinach to use up so I added a spinach layer between the mushrooms and breadcrumbs. 

crispy-mushroom-layer-with-spinach

The nuts in this picture are a mixture of brazils, pistachio and almonds but if I’m buying nuts specifically for this recipe I often get a bag  of the chopped, mixed nuts that you usually find in the baking section at supermarkets.

crispy-mushroom-layer

I love this served with steamed broccoli.  The dish is easily made vegan by skipping the cheese and using a vegan margarine instead of the butter.

Crispy Mushroom Bake
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 225g breadcrumbs (I use seeded wholemeal bread)
  2. 110g chopped mixed nuts
  3. 25g butter
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil
  5. 1 large onion, chopped
  6. 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  7. 225g mushrooms, chopped
  8. 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  9. 1 tsp dried marjoram (or oregano)
  10. 50g grated Italian-style hard cheese (optional)
  11. Salt and black pepper
Instructions
  1. To make the crispy topping, melt the butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs, nuts and a good grind of black pepper, and fry until crispy and golden - but be careful, it burns easily.
  2. If you are using the cheese, stir most of it into the crispy topping once it has cooled reserving a sprinkle for the top.
  3. To make the mushroom filling, fry the onion and garlic gently in 1 tbsp of olive for 5-10 minutes to soften.
  4. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, marjoram or oregano, black pepper and a little salt to taste and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Put the mushroom mixture in the bottom of an ovenproof dish and cover the mushroom mixture with the crumbs OR alternate layers of the mushroom mixture and crumbs making sure that you end with a crumb layear.
  6. Finish with a final sprinkle of grated Italian-style hard cheese if using.
  7. Cover and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for about 30 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes of cooking to brown the top.
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