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Freestyler in the Kitchen: Throw-together recipe #1


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Hey guys, I have a confession…

Even though this blog is FULL of recipes, I am NOT a good recipe follower. I use recipes as inspiration – a starting point to leap from and aside from recipe testing, I seldom stick to the script. I like to make things up as I go along, eyeballing quantities, changing it up with whatever ingredients I happen to have. I season to taste or mood.

I am not the kind of girl to cook an exact dish twice.

What’s your cooking style?

So, when I took Fisher & Paykel’s online quiz WHAT’S YOUR COOKING STYLE? I wasn’t surprised that I was branded the Freestyler. Freestylers have mastered the basics and enjoy pushing the boundaries, putting together flavours and textures that complement each other. They also enjoy going “off-piste”.

I shall wear the Freestyler badge with honour.

The quiz was designed to help you get the most out of your time in the kitchen and results in eight distinct personalities. Understanding your style can help you to choose ingredients, recipes and appliances to make your kitchen time more enjoyable and efficient. From the Curious Novice to the Professional and everything in between, find out what type of cooking style you have by taking the quick quiz here.

Go on, I’ll wait.

The Freestyler

In my kitchen, I love to push my growing edge, experimenting with different flavour combos and fiercely seasonal ingredients. If I see something that catches my eye because it’s on special or in season, I’ll buy it and figure out what to do with it later. Some of my favourite dishes are created this way and I love how it forces me to consider different flavour pairings. Like that time I ordered a tray of figs and cooked a 5-course meal with figs in every course…even though I’d never cooked a single fig before. I got creative and I had FUN.

Thanks to Fisher & Paykel, I’ve created a series of throw-together recipes that celebrate the Freestyler approach to cooking. These recipes are more templates than traditional recipes. I’ve suggested ingredients, but in all honesty, whatever you have in the fridge can substitute and you’ll only know if you try. If you enjoy this recipe and this style of cooking, please check back to see the other recipes in this series.  

Throw-together recipe #1

My first recipe is a party dish and takes just 20 minutes in the oven. My go-to finger food, these stuffed mushrooms are great for parties, potlucks or dinners as they are naturally gluten free and easily vegetarian. When taking these to parties, I assemble these ahead of time (steps 1 to 6) and pop them in the oven (step 7) while I get ready or tidy up the kitchen so they’re still warm when we get to our destination.

It’s important to have an oven you can rely on and living in rentals all my adult life, I’ve had a huge range of different ovens to familiarise, master and clean. Fisher & Paykel’s pyrolytic self-cleaning ovens take the chore out of cleaning by reducing residue to a light ash that you can wipe clean with just a damp cloth. I wish our rental had one! I’d love to design my own kitchen someday and you can bet that it would include a dishwasher and a self cleaning oven.

I usually make vegetarian stuffed mushrooms with parmesan and fresh herbs and they are popular with both vegetarians and meat eaters. I’ve also made these with cured meat and hot smoked salmon. They are all delicious!

When using ingredients such as bacon, always cook before use. The plus side of this is that you can taste the filling before you use it. Just bear in mind that the filling will taste even better after baking as it has the added bonus of being melty, gooey and warm.

The filling is really forgiving and it’s hard to go wrong. The quantities I’ve suggested are rough, eyeball them if you like. I do. As long as the filling is comprised half or more of cream cheese as this is the glue that binds the ingredients, it will hold together well.

When purchasing white button mushrooms, pick ones that are of similar size, around 5cm wide. Brush off any visible dirt and you’re good to go. For reference, 30 mushrooms weigh about 900 grams.

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Freestyler Stuffed Mushrooms

Should have:

  • 30 white button mushrooms
  • 250 grams cream cheese (1 tub)

Freestyler ingredients (pick 1 set):

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan and a bunch of fresh chopped herbs
  • A small fillet of flaked hot smoked salmon and 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 rashers of cooked, chopped streaky bacon and 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Half a cup of diced salami and 1 diced roasted capsicum
  • …or a combination of tasty ingredients you already have

Preparation

  1. Take the cream cheese out of the fridge to soften at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  3. Pop the stems off the mushrooms. Reserve stems for stock or soup.
  4. In a bowl, add the cream cheese and your choice of ingredients. Mix ingredients until combined.
  5. Take a mushroom and pack the mixture into the cavity using a table knife. The mushrooms should be slightly round on top with filling, but not piled high.
  6. Place stuffed mushroom on a lightly oiled oven-proof dish or tray. Repeat until mushrooms or filling* runs out.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C.

Optional: sprinkle with fresh herbs, or a dusting of smoked paprika or a squeeze of lemon before serving.

* Any leftover cream cheese mix can be smeared over toast or bagels. Yum!

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This post was made possible thanks to Fisher & Paykel. All opinions, recipes and photographs are my own.

46 Comments

  1. I am the Make-it-Up cook, with a fundamentally strong understanding of foods, herbs and combinations. It works for me and obviously for you!

  2. I’m inclined to agree with almost everything you say here because I learned to cook by being a natural freestyler.
    A good 50% of my recipes are freestyled, haha – no shame.
    These cute little button mushrooms are deliciously brilliant and such pretty plating as usual cookie smookie 😀

  3. Your recipe is one I can’t wait to use! I learned freestyling from my mom, who had a large family and used whatever was on hand to come up with meals to feed us all. I am more bold with ingredients, but my hat is off to her. I didn’t know my ‘style’ had a name. I just called myself a “by guess and by golly” cook.

  4. Sabreslow says

    I’m the same way with my cooking (read the last paragraph of my first post if you want to know my cooking style, hint hint)

  5. I’m the same! Hubby asks me why I never use my cookbooks. I do! For inspiration, ideas and flavor pairings but rarely will follow a recipe to the T. Imagine all the waste!

  6. I’m a freestyler too, which honestly surprised me a little. Part of the reason I’m always swapping things around is practicality – e.g. today i was making pastry for ‘rustic rhubarb tarts’ and the pastry called for cream, but I didn’t have any, didn’t want to buy any and wanted the tarts made so just…used…milk. Also, when recipes call for awkward amounts of an item (e.g. they call for 200g but it comes in either 250g or 500g amounts) I will rebel. But it’s something that definitely comes with confidence: I remember watching my boyfriend’s sister, a novice cook at 17, carefully remove 50g of minced beef from a 500g packet because the recipe called for 450g. I’m sure she wouldn’t do that now with a bit more experience behind her.

    • I wouldn’t be daring enough to freestyle on pastry, but I know what you mean about awkward amounts of ingredients. If a recipe asks for 3/4 of an onion, you can bet that I will use a whole onion. I always try and write my recipes so they avoid awkward amounts.

  7. These look fabulous and remind me of one of my favorite go-to recipes. I’m going to take that quiz because I’m pretty sure I’m a free-styler based on your description. Your blog is great – thanks for your recent like as it led me to check you out. I’m a new follower!

  8. I’m definitely a free-styler. I collect several recipes for the same dish and then use it as a base to create my own or just throw ingredients together and hope for the best. I think the more a person cooks, the more inclined they are to veer from the written recipes. This is how we make dishes our own and how we want them to be.

    • Hi Tilly, I couldn’t agree more. The more I cook, the more my own style develops. I guess that’s why people can cook the same dish so many different ways. It’s the little details that count.

  9. Just took the quiz and I am proud to join your ranks as a Freestyler!! The mushrooms look amazing! I am now forced to be a dairy free girl due to an intolerance but I cannot wait to mess with your recipe so I can then pig out and eat them all!!!!

    • Hello fellow freestyler! Making these dairy free would be an interesting challenge. I wonder if there are any good coconut based foods that would give the same creaminess as cream cheese?

      • My only experience is using tofutti and silken tofu to replace heavy cream or cream cheese….in the recipes I’ve tried they worked well, but I’m not sure about coconut based….will look into it!!!

  10. I’m usually not into mushrooms, but they look scrumptious! The quiz says I’m a Freestyler too, but I more or less stick to what I know is delish. Also, cooking for my guys means cooking what THEY love and how they expect my meals to taste. Thanks for all the likes!!

  11. Love your style–I’m a freestyler too! And I have a weakness for Kiwis since spending a year in Dunedin back a billion years ago. Thanks for visiting Wing’s World–cheers!

  12. Well, a sure-fire way to upset my husband is to prepare something from “scratch” and not write it down. He always says, “we will NEVER have this again, will we?”
    I keep a notebook handy now. I still forget to use it most of the time.

    • I take notes while cooking for sharing on my blog, but I still allow myself some room to be creative for next time. I like to think of recipes as living, evolving things.

      • I am getting better at jotting down the basics when I go in and create things. I made a wonderful curry dish using vegetables that needed to be used…I didn’t write it down. It was very good and I am pretty sure I can remember what I did if I want to make it again later. Some habits are hard to break.

  13. Pingback: KIDS LOVE TO COOK ….. | LIVE EVERY DAY LIKE IT'S YOUR LAST !

  14. Pingback: Stuffed Mushrooms from Freestyler in the Kitchen’s Blog! | Oh Yes, They Did

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