One day, Wilson and Jane's daughter, Anna, comes home and announces that she and her boyfriend are planning to marry. Next week. On the day of Wilson and Jane's wedding anniversary. This could pose quite a problem, because last year Wilson forgot their anniversary, and Jane still hasn't forgiven him for that. Jane and Wilson were hoping to celebrate their anniversary this year properly, and hopefully rekindle their marriage. The rest of the story centers around the last-minute planning of the wedding. While Jane and Anna spend their days shopping for dresses, shoes, flowers, and caterers, Wilson visits Noah and oversees the preparations being done at the Calhoun family home by the river. The one Noah had fixed up so many years ago, and where he and Allie shared a romantic dinner of freshly-caught crabs. The house has fallen into disrepair over the years since Noah and Allie moved into the nursing home, and Wilson has hired someone to fix it up again and beautify the gardens outside. Wilson, Jane, and Anna decide that the newly-renovated Calhoun place would be the perfect backdrop for the wedding.
Every night when Jane comes home after a long day of wedding preparations, Wilson and Jane have dinner together and talk about how the plans are going. Most nights, Wilson cooks (except for the one or two nights they order in). The first evening, Wilson prepares mushrooms stuffed with sausage and cream cheese for an appetizer, and as he and Jane are enjoying those and winding down with a glass of wine, he finishes cooking dinner: veal marsala with sauteed vegetables and a salad.
We're not big fans of veal. (Here is where I could easily go off on a tangent about how squeamish we are about buying meat that's raised in less-than ideal conditions, and how I found veal once at Whole Foods labeled "free-range" but we don't have a Whole Foods near us and I couldn't find veal with that label anywhere around here, and how hypocritical I am about that whole meat-buying issue because the sausage I bought for the mushrooms was almost surely raised on a factory farm, and Joe doesn't like veal anyway because it doesn't taste all that great, and that on the gazillion-to-one chance Nick might read this, I want to be clear that I absolutely positively don't want to pass judgment on anyone who eats veal or any other meat that isn't raised on some idyllic, spacious organic farm, 'cuz, geez, I cringe every time I see a cut of free-range local organic meat that costs two or three times as much as the one I can get at the grocery store, and how many times have I decided to buy the cheaper one? If you like veal, please don't think I want you to stop eating it on account of me. But if you really want to know how veal is raised, click here. And you can get free-range veal at Whole Foods.) Whew! Glad I got that outta the way. I was going to opt for chicken marsala, until I found a recipe for pork medallions in Marsala sauce. (I couldn't get local free-range pork yet because the farmers' market still hadn't opened for the season, but I found a "humanely-raised" tenderloin at our local butcher. Whatever that means.)
But first, the appetizer:
STUFFED MUSHROOMS WITH CREAM CHEESE AND SAUSAGE
2 (12 ounce) packages white button mushrooms, cap size doesn't really matter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) package sausage
1/4 cup butter (melted, quite optional!)Directions: (Prep Time: 30 mins Total Time: 1 1/4 hr)
1 Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
2 Separate caps and stems while cleaning the mushrooms.
3 If cleaning with water, let them drain for a bit.
4 Start cooking the sausage in frying pan, at a medium to medium/high temperature.
5 While the sausage is cooking, put the cream cheese into a mixing bowl so it can soften and mince the stem pieces.
6 Spice the sausage to taste. Garlic is a good addition.
7 Just before the sausage is done, add the stem pieces and finish cooking.
8 Drain off the excess grease and add the sausage/stem mixture into the cream cheese.
9 Mix together well using a wooden spoon or your hands. Be careful, as it will be rather hot.
10 Set the caps into a 13x9 pan (or larger) with sides.
11 Optional! Melt enough butter to just put a little in the bottom of each cap or just brush some over the top of each after they're filled. You can put any extra butter in the bottom of the pan.
12 Fill the caps with the cream cheese/sausage/stem mix.
13 Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the bottom.
14 Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the tops are crusty and the mushrooms have turned dark.
15 Scoop them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange them on a plate.
16 Serve warm. They reheat well, so you can make them ahead of time.
17 *VARIATION 1: Add dried bread crumbs to the mix to make a larger batch without adding more cream cheese or sausage. Onions are also another popular addition.
18 *VARIATION 2: Use one 8oz. box of cream cheese to two 8oz. pkgs of sausage. It makes for a larger batch that is less rich and tastes just as good.
19 *FUN HINTS: The cream cheese mix is also very good on bread or crackers! This comes in handy if you you think there might be someone who doesn't like mushrooms - save some of the mix to the side for them to dip with.(Source: Food.com)
These were a HUGE hit!! It was hard not to eat too many and run out of room for dinner. I even made a few without cream cheese for Moe.
I was searching the Internet for a good Chicken Marsala recipe, when I came across this one, and when I saw it came from Fine Cooking, I couldn't resist trying it.
SEARED PORK MEDALLIONS IN MARSALA MUSHROOM SAUCE
1-1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (1 large or 2 small), trimmed of fat and cut on the diagonal into 1-1/2-inch rounds (about 8)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
1-1/2 cups (1 oz.) dried mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped, plus 3/4 cup soaking liquid (I used some assorted sliced fresh mushrooms I found)
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Sprinkle the pork with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Put the flour in a small bowl, and then dredge the pork in the flour, shaking off any excess. Heat 1 Tbs. oil and the butter in a large (12-inch) heavy-duty skillet over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pork and cook, without touching, until it starts to brown nicely and easily releases from the pan, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides in the same manner until the pork is cooked through and then transfer to a large serving platter. Cover loosely with foil.
To make the sauce, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and shallot to the pan, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until the shallot softens and becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the Marsala, raise the heat to high, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits, until the liquid has almost completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushroom soaking liquid (Since I didn't have this, I added a little chicken broth) and cook until it reduces by about half, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the cream and bring to a boil. Take the sauce off the heat and spoon it over the pork. Serve sprinkled with parsley. Serving Suggestions Serve the pork and sauce over egg noodles or with an herb risotto on the side. (Source: FineCooking.com)
That looks like more than 8 1-1/2 inch rounds. Good thing; that wouldn't have been enough for my growing boys.
I found this mix to use as a substitute for the flour. It's also egg- and dairy-free, so it's safe for Moe as well.