Birthday Rituals

Sunday, November 9, 2014
I just celebrated another birthday - or, as Andrew jovially calls it, my "birthweek". It's true that I've had a few days of celebrations with family and friends, and dinner out tonight to look forward to. But that doesn't mean I stayed out of the kitchen.

There are a few things you should know about my birthday:
- I will ask my daughters for the gift of time;
- I will eat arugula salad;
- I will bake my own dessert.

For most bloggers that birthday dessert would be a cake, but I celebrated with a less traditional birthday pavlova. Because I've already posted that recipe, I'll share the recipe for my birthday lunch, a stuffed portobello mushroom. It's surprisingly filling and rich; served beside a salad, it makes a perfect meal, birthday or otherwise. Especially when that salad is arugula.

Today's poem doesn't really have anything to do with birthdays or mushrooms, but I'm hoping you'll indulge me anyhow. I love villanelles, and most of them (Mad Girl's Love Song, One Art) are far too gloomy to post without my friends worrying about me. So let me share this beautiful poem, one that reminds me of the dwindling days of fall every time I read it.

Time will say nothing but I told you so
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reason why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

- "If I Could Tell You", by W.H. Auden

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Taleggio cheese
(adapted from Plenty)

5 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
olive oil
1 small (or half a large) fennel bulb
3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp parmesan, grated
75 grams taleggio cheese (mozzarella is fine too), sliced
2 Tbsp fresh basil, shredded coarsely (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an oven tray with baking parchment. Place four of the mushrooms on the tray, open end down, drizzle with a little oil, and bake for about 15 minutes, until mushrooms begin to soften. Remove from oven and flip so open end is facing up.

Meanwhile, finely dice the remaining mushroom. Trim the fennel and chop it into fine dice. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan and add the fennel and chopped mushroom. Cook on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft but have not browned. Add sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Cook a few minutes more, then remove from the heat and leave to cool down.

Once cool, add parmesan to the mixture. Pile the fennel filling on the whole mushrooms and top with slices of taleggio. Return to the oven bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese melts and mushrooms are hot.

Garnish with basil, if desired, and serve with a salad.


nancy at good food matters said...

I am a firm believer in "birthweeks" or, at least, extended celebrations. The stuffed portabello recipe must be terrific--it's Ottolenghi's and has fennel in it ! Best birthday wishes--Nancy

Catherine said...

Dear Beth, A very happy birthday to you!!! It is right that it should be a birthday week for all!
I love that you bake your own cake and treat yourself to exactly what you desire.

The poem is so very thoughtful and insightful to life. I really found it thought provoking.

Have a wonderful day. Catherine xo

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Happy Birthday Beth, the stuffed portabello sounds delicious, love Yotam's recipes. Thank you for sharing the lovely poem.

Monica said...

Happy belated birthday! It sounds like you had a wonderful one (we like to stretch out birthdays at my house, too). The gift of time is priceless and eating with loved ones is a great way to spend some of that precious time, I think. The stuffed portabello dish looks delicious!

We Are Not Martha said...

Happy birthday! My mom always asks me and my sister for the gift of time, too :)


Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

I just celebrated a birthday week, too! And I should have made a pavlova...what a terrific idea! And your mushrooms look amazing. Happy birthday to you, my friend!!!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you had such a great birthday. Not surprised you make your own dessert for it.

Jemi Fraser said...

happy birthday week! :)
This looks yummy - I'll have to ty it :)

Pam said...

I like your birthday requests of time with your daughter! The stuffed mushrooms look and sound incredible. Happy belated birthday.

Kayte said...

Happy Birthday!! Your choice of goodness looks fabulous!! Enjoy all the celebrating, never ever enough celebrating! xo

Julie said...

Happy Birthday!!! Time is a wonderful request!

Juliana said...

Happy Birthday Beth! These stuffed mushrooms look great...I like the idea of fennel and cheese!
Enjoy your week :)

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Happy birthday my friend :D I hope you ate lots of beautiful mushrooms like this, they look so delicious!

Choc Chip Uru

Barbara said...

Happy Birthday, Beth. I hope you've had a wonderful birthday week. What a great gift time is! So wish my kids lived closer.
Yummy stuffed mushrooms!

Stephen Tremp said...

Happy Birthday , errr ... Birthweek to you! Ah, time. What greater gift can there be?

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Happy Happy Birthday to you! I hope it's a perfect, lovely birthweek for you. =) Those stuffed mushrooms look absolutely divine and I know that pavola was/is incredible. Enjoy!

Kathy said...

Happy, Happy Birthday, Beth!! I think everyone ought to have a week to celebrate! My husband always call it my birthday week, too!
Love your stuffed mushrooms…they look incredible!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I love the idea of a birthday Pavlova, Beth! I decided to forgo the cake this year myself--next year I'll need to be sure I substitute appropriately! Happy birthday (birthweek?)!

Joanne said...

Happy birthday chica!! I hope you enjoy your pavlova! I always insist on making my own dessert also, so I totally get it. What a lovely poem to share with us. It's a great one and feels so perfect for fall, somehow.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Happy Birthday! Week! Heck, let's go with month. :-) Good poem, wonderful mushroom dish. Why not have pavlova for your birthday dinner? I usually opt for pie, typically key lime or lemon meringue. Cake is for minor holidays. :-)

Maria K said...

My warmest wishes for your birthday, Beth! I love the poem and, besides, what could be more relevant to a post about a birthday than a poem about time passing? I would very much like to use it for a future post, if you don't mind terribly. Haven't yet cooked stuffed mushrooms but I think it's time I rectified this.

Beth said...

Thanks, Maria! And I hope you do use the poem in a future post. Great poetry is meant to be shared!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Beth! Hope you had a great day. Those mushrooms look delicious. I have to make those. Thanks for posting the recipe.

Angie's Recipes said...

Happy belated Birthday, Beth! Hope you had a lovely celebration with your family.
Those baked mushrooms must have been very delicious with your birthday arugula salad.

Claudia said...

I cook and bake for my birthday! Love arugula but never thought to celebrate with it! Love, love Auden and that poem. Happy Belated Birthday, Beth! Looks like it was a lovely one.

Claudia said...

Pressed publish too early! Anything with taleggio (especially melted) has my vote!

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