At a recent Deer Isle pot-luck supper, I enjoyed the most delicious stuffed mushroom caps. They were golden, bite-sized morsels, perfectly cooked, with a nice and buttery, garlicy and clam flavor. And so easy to eat! Unlike many stuffed caps, these mushrooms were not greasy, watery or runny. The tasty tidbits were the perfect package to discreetly pop in your mouth and return to the platter for more!
Always on the search for easy-to-prepare dishes that feature Maine foods (particularly clams and lobsters), I had to have the recipe for my holiday entertaining. A quick search of the crowd revealed Craig Hutchinson as the creative source of the wonderful mushrooms.
Craig graciously sent me the recipe for Amy Hutchinson’s Clam Stuffed ‘Shrooms, along with the note that “Amy was my Mom… She was a great cook and had many contemporaries of equal talent. The Island was famous for its amazing cooks; most notably the “church ladies”. My friends and me would “help” at the church suppers and were rewarded with leftovers. Evangeline Knowlton was, perhaps, the most famous Island cook, quite in the mold of Julia Child…”Vange” and Mom were besties and joyfully competitive in the kitchen. Mom passed at age 95 a few years ago. The shrooms came out when we had “fancy company”.
Although my research of Knowlton’s cookbook, “Vangie’s Kitchen Cornor”, had not gleaned Amy’s recipe, I knew she had to be a contemporary of Vangie. The style was so down-to-earth and easy, but with a great attention to detail, which is what makes them so delicious!
Inspired, I whipped up batch of stuffed caps using ground hen clams from Crockett Cove. Pre-cooking the tops of the mushrooms is key, and be sure to taste stuffing and correct the seasonings. These bites freeze extremely well and come in handy for a welcome treat when folks pop by for holiday visiting.
I wish I had the opportunity to personally know those great women whose cooking was the fabric of our community. To honor them, I encourage you to try their recipes, and share the warmth, friendliness, and joy of their family traditions.