Cooking with Scraps

An Appetizer That’s Just Right for Every Situation

December 11, 2016

I once showed up to a backyard barbecue in a strapless dress, kitten heels, and a tray full of complicated (though delicious) appetizers. No one will be surprised by what happened next: my heels kept sinking into the grass, and my resulting graceless wobbling made my dress continuously slip down, which forced me to awkwardly yank my dress up. My fancy one-bite appetizers went uneaten in favor of ruffled potato chips and tubs of french onion dip. I’d completely misread the situation.

What I should have done was bring a sure-fire hit appetizer: you know, the one that’s just as snug at a casual gathering as it is at a cocktail party, the one that satisfies both your foodie friend and your meat-and-potatoes uncle, the one that is always the first to disappear. Like deviled eggs, crostini, and stuffed mushrooms.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Anna Francese Gass’s stuffed mushrooms are the stuffed mushroom recipe to turn to for every event this holiday season. They don’t call for any hard-to-find ingredients, are easy to make (and can even be partially made ahead), and taste exactly how you imagine a quintessential stuffed mushroom should.

Shop the Story

If they taste like a classic, well, that's because they are: Anna’s passion is cooking with grandmothers around the country and collecting these beloved recipes on her blog, Heirloom Kitchen (the grandmother in this case, and the source of the recipe, is her own mother, Gina), in hopes that these recipes will continue to be cherished for generations to come.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Besides the fact these are bound to be a crowd-pleaser, I’m fond of these mushrooms for two reasons. They incorporate the mushrooms’ stems: that’s not always the case with stuffed mushroom recipes, but it should be—they have the same mushroom-y flavor and serve to bulk up the filling. In addition, Anna notes that any extra filling can be rolled into balls and frozen for a future mini-batch, which is exactly what I did. But you could also make and freeze the entire batch of filling, not just the extras, so you’re ready to make stuffed mushrooms for a crowd at a moment’s notice.

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)?

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Top Comment:
“They taste very good too--but they are mildly seasoned, so you may want to add a little more spice for the stuffed mushroom recipe. ”
— marsiamarsia

Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • marsiamarsia
  • amysarah
  • Bob
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


marsiamarsia December 11, 2016
Vegetarian sausages are now available at local supermarkets. I tried my first GimmeLean Meatless Veggie Sausage this a.m. They come in a roll that you slice and pat into your desired shape for sautéing, just like classic pork sausage. They taste very good too--but they are mildly seasoned, so you may want to add a little more spice for the stuffed mushroom recipe.
amysarah December 11, 2016
Hooray for using the stems - I do this too. Or I save them to use in something else - discarding them seems ostentatiously wasteful.

I love that this recipe uses Ritz crackers - secret agent of deliciousness, and so often overlooked these days. I'd like to make this for a holiday party, but thinking half with sausage and half without for vegetarian friends - any suggestions of what to sub? Maybe a grain or such, with a little grated parmesan for umami?
Lindsay-Jean H. December 11, 2016
I think a grain + parm would be great, but if you're not opposed to faux meat products, I'm going to second marsiamarsia's suggestion—GimmeLean is my go-to in situations like this (and one of the very few faux meat substitute products I truly get excited about eating).
Bob December 11, 2016
Lindsay-Jean, I can appreciate your backstory regarding missing-the-beat of what to bring to backyard BBQs. But as one of the few male cooks who attend such events, I have to ask - what are 'kitten heels"?
Lindsay-Jean H. December 11, 2016
Ha! They are shoes with a thin heel, like high heels, just shorter, so the heels are only an inch or two high.