I love leafing through a brand new cookbook. The smell of the crisp clean pages, the mouth-watering photographs, the unusual combinations, the recipes that challenge your skills and delight your friends. It’s a treat. I read my cookbooks in bed, before going to sleep. Bedtime stories for grown-ups. Grown-ups infatuated with food.
I have a three-recipe rule when using a new cookbook. If the first recipe does not live up to its expectations, it could possibly be down to bad luck or my culinary skills. If the second recipe is below par, then serious questions need to be asked. Everyone has off days, but two recipes from the same book which are not up standard and alarm bells start chiming like Big Ben. Being stubborn, I have to commit to a third. If that fails, I will ruthlessly toss the book aside and let it gather dust, never to be used again. So long baby.
Cook In Boots by Ravinder Bhogal passed the test. With honours. Ignoring the girly fluff within, this is what home cooking is about. Good hearty recipes which always work, taste fantastic and leave you feeling rather contented.
The Portobello Mushroom & Cheddar Crumble is up there, in my comfort food hall of fame, in bright shiny lights. The chunkiness of the mushrooms combined with the spicy tomato sauce and the scrumptious cheddar crumble make this one of my favourite all time vegetarian recipes.
I’ve adapted it because I don’t think there is near enough tomato sauce. I also use wholemeal bread instead of white as I much prefer it. Don’t forget to serve with a nice crisp green salad or if you fancy something a little peppery, try rocket.
Portobello Mushroom & Cheddar Crumble
Adapted from Cook in Boots by Ravinder Bhogal
3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
8 portobello mushrooms, peeled and trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the tomato sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp caster sugar
Salt & pepper
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
For the crumble
200g wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
20g Parmesan cheese, grated
50g Cheddar cheese, grated
1 handful torn basil leaves
Preheat oven to 190º.
Prepare the crumble by mixing all the ingredients together. Set aside.
In a frying pan, heat olive oil and cook onion until translucent and soft. Add chopped garlic and chilli and fry for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, sugar and season. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on a low heat. It will thicken, make sure it doesn’t dry out, add a bit of water if so. Finally stir in chopped parsley.
Spread 1/3 to half the tomato sauce in a large ovenproof dish or roasting tin. Then add the mushrooms topped with the sliced garlic, stalk side up. Pour the rest of the sauce over the mushrooms. Cover with the crumble. Drizzle some olive oil on top and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serves 4.