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Author Notes: Ajay is a friend of ours from Jaipur, in Northern India. We met him at his jewelry shop which is a large labyrinthine affair with an unassuming doorway. The first time we went there, he showed me a pre-Victorian opera length emerald necklace. Each of these emeralds was faceted, larger than robin's eggs and mouthwateringly lustrous. Each of these emeralds was surrounded by the most brilliant diamonds I had ever set my eyes on. I knew this was way beyond my reach and this was confirmed when he mentioned the price - could have bought a nice condo in Honolulu. Next one of his assistants brought out a lovely little choker - a large emerald bead inscribed with words from the Q'uran strung from four strands of Basra pearls. He said that it had belonged to the Emperor Akbar - the greatest of the Mughal emperors of India. When he mentioned the price of 25000, I smiled - I could afford it. I quickly did a mental calculation and wrote a cheque for 650 US dollars. He smiled shyly. He was ineffably gentle in telling me that it was 25,000 dollars and not Rupees. I was mortified at my stupidity and deeply appreciative that he was polite and did not treat me like a clod. Despite his affluence, he is one of the most humble men we have met. He is due in Montana tomorrow from New York, and so we decided to create a gastronomic experience for him. Bill, my husband, rated it at an 8 or even a 9 on a scale of 10. —AnnaChacko
Serves three, for ajay, bill and me
Large Portabello Mushrooms. softened sweet butter, grated Fontina cheese
- 3 large portabello mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons softened sweet butter
- 2 tablespoons grated Fontina cheese
- snap off the stalk of the mushrooms and scoop out the gills. Reserve these for the stuffing.
- clean the mushroom caps gently and coat them with half the butter.
- pour the remaining butter into the caps. Roll the caps around to insure that the butter is spread evenly.
- Heat the oven to 350 and set the mushrooms in individual ramekins. Bake for 10 minutes or until the butter in the caps starts bubbling
- spoon the grated fontina equally into each of the caps and return the ramekins to the oven for 5 more minutes or until the Fontina melts.
Now for the stuffing and topping
- 3 tablespoons freshly made Hollandaise sauce - Julia Child's cookbook is a wonderful source for the recipe for Hollandaise
- 2 cups finely shopped baby spinach
- 2 pieces kale leaves with the central stem removed and then chopped like the spinach
- 3 pieces thick bacon
- 1.5 tablespoons diced red onion
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Salt & groundpepper to taste
- stalks and gills chopped into small bits
- Fry the bacon until the meaty portions turn red. Cut the bacon into small pieces discarding the rubbery fat.
- In the same saucepan with the melted fat from the bacon, saute the onion until soft. Add the spinach and kale to the onion- bacon mixture and saute until spinach is reduced to about 1.5 teaspoon in volume. Finally add the mushroom bits to the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Distribute stuffing equally into each of the mushroom caps. Slather on the hollandaise on top of the stuffing and serve in the ramekins.
- It may be easier to include a steak knife and a grapefruit spoon so that it easy to access mushroom, fontina, stuffing and hollandaise in one mouthful.