It has been a while since I’ve been able to play around in the kitchen. Production of my videos have been stopped for the time being due to budgeting concerns, but I still believe in the goal of sending out quality tips and recipes for people that have culinary curiosities. Thanks to, I’m able to do that.

This past Saturday I hosted a small dinner party of about 12 people. Oddly, I wasn’t the organizer of the event. All credit goes to my real estate agent who has one of the most admirable zeal for life. As she planned this party, she insisted that it be a pot-luck because she knew I would go way overboard in providing my guests with top notch fare. My new friends didn’t fall short though of this standard. However, I took on the responsibility of providing the main entree and also offered my signature dessert.

In preparing entrees, I always want to take into consideration the dietary restrictions and/or observations of my guests. My real estate agent is a vegetarian and until Saturday, I’ve never been asked to prepare a vegetarian entree. Since I was firing up Beast, my dual propane/charcoal grill, I defaulted to grilled, goat-cheese and herb stuffed portobello mushrooms as my vegetarian entree.

I will pause here to state briefly that I have studied music on a very minor level in college, yet my love of music has led me to believe that music is the 5th element of the Earth. Every culture has some form of music and I believe it is a great bridge to cross barriers where cultures collide when approached with open hearts and minds. One of my favorite compositions is ‘Variations on a Theme of Paganini” by Rachmaninoff. Thus the inspiration of the title for this entry and explanation of my variation of a grilled steak.

The recipe couldn’t have been any easier. The ingredients couldn’t have been more pure. The process couldn’t have been any less time consuming. And the results couldn’t have been more satisfying.

Begin with a large portobello mushroom and clean it well. To do so, just take a damp paper towel and gently wipe off the top of the mushroom. Then cut the stem out and use a spoon to scrape out the black gills on the inside of the mushroom. This can be done hours or minutes in advance.

For the filling, use 8 ounces of goat cheese. It’s easier to mix if it’s softened, but not necessary. Then mix into the goat cheese the following fresh herbs after roughly chopping:

– 2 sprigs dill
– 2 sprigs thyme
– 2 sprigs rosemary
– 2 sprigs cilantro
– 2 sprigs basil

Then add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

I also added a finely diced peeled tomato. One medium sized tomato was enough. Next time though I plan on using a roasted red pepper because I think the roasted flavor will really jump out of this recipe.

To cook, preheat a grill to medium or an oven broiler anywhere between 350-400 degrees.

Place the mushroom top-side down on the grate and cook it for about 5 minutes, but not any longer.

Flip the mushroom over and cook it until the juices start to come out where the gills once where. Again, about 5 minutes.

When the juices come out, put a nice spoonful or more of the goat cheese filling in the mushroom and let it cook until the cheese is soft. It won’t melt, but you can use tongs or a spoon to tell when the cheese is soft and warm throughout.

That’s all there is to it. The filling is enough for 5 large mushrooms. I piled up on 4 mushrooms though and people raved about it.

I love the mushrooms as an alternative to steak because of the texture and the full flavor you experience. And, with 12 people at my house and all the other food brought by my guests, 4 large mushrooms were plenty!

Perhaps I should have called this entry “Variations on a Theme of a Carnivore” because I am sold on this recipe…and I’m not the biggest fan of goat cheese.

You’ll not be disappointed!

Remember though, the secret ingredient to any recipe is a dash of imagination. Make it your own!