There’s something awesome about stuffed mushrooms in an early ’80s, Parents’-Dinner-Party/Gourmet magazine kind of way. To me, they give off a sort of suburban glamour – the type of thing served at a party in someone’s shag-carpeted living room, where the guests drink red wine out of chunky crystal glasses, people who don’t usually smoke have a cigarette, someone plays Van Morrison on the record player, and the kids are upstairs, watching “Wonder Woman” on a wood-veneered TV on a waterbed in a guest room, where they’ll fall asleep and wake up outside in the cold air while being carried out to the car, buckled in, and, back asleep again, driven home. It’s possible I’m dating myself, here.
Stuffed mushrooms (here adapted from a recipe in Simone and Inés Ortega’s 1080 Recipes) are also really good, really easy, and just a fun thing to cook that takes just enough work to feel like a project while not really taking any serious time or skill to pull off. You can multiply the recipe out for a party (Make a hundred! It’s really easy!), cook them through to the second-to-last step, and then just pop them under the broiler when it’s time to serve. You can add anything you want and take them in whatever direction strikes you (Spanish – a little smoked paprika; Moroccan – chopped dried apricots, chopped almonds, a dash of cayenne; 1980s craziness – chopped up sundried tomatoes and minced shallot; Generic Asian – a few drops of sesame oil, chopped scallions, minced ginger, and maybe even chopped water chestnuts if you’re still with me on the early Reagan Administration thing), though be sure to use good olive oil. You have guests to impress, after all.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (176 degrees C). Lightly oil a small baking sheet or baking dish with a little vegetable oil or cooking spray. Put the panko in a medium bowl, add the soy milk (or water), and stir to combine. Set aside.
Wash and dry the mushrooms. Pop the stems out of the caps, and place the caps, gill side up, on the baking sheet. Finely chop the mushroom stems, and put in a small pan with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the mushroom caps, evenly dividing it among them.
Put the pan with the mushroom stems on the stove, and turn the heat to medium-low. Put the baking sheet in the oven. Let them both cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the mushroom caps from the oven and set aside. (Don't turn off the oven.) Add the mushroom stems and the parsley to the panko, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among the mushroom caps. Put the now-stuffed mushroom caps back in the oven for 20 minutes.
Take the mushrooms out of the oven, heat the broiler, and run the mushrooms under the broiler for a minute or two until the tops are browned. Transfer to a plate and serve.