Much like New York, London or San Francisco, New Orleans is one of those cities that has its own feel. When you are in New Orleans you know you are in New Orleans. The food is one unique aspect of New Orleans that distinguishes it from other cities. One famous dish that originated there is Oysters Rockefeller. The original version of this dish was served in 1899 at the restaurant Antoine's. As the name implies it is rich in every way. While Antoine's recipe for Oysters Rockefeller has never been released there are many versions of this New Orleans classic. One of my favorites is served at a restaurant in my neighborhood called Vieux Carre, the French name for the French Quarter. Chef David Bennett's take on Oysters Rockefeller is made with Shiitake mushrooms rather than oysters in honor of his vegetarian mother. I like it because he uses fresh, locally grown produce and it's a lighter alternative to the original.
Prepare the fresh shitake mushrooms by cleaning with a dry towel and then breaking off the stems at the base of the cap. Discard stems.
Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste in an ovenproof baking dish. Toss the mushroom caps in this mixture to coat and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Roast in a pre-heated 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
While mushrooms are roasting, prepare spinach mixture for topping. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan, and then add about a pound of fresh spinach leaves that have been washed and patted dry. Sauté just long enough to wilt, about 1-2 minutes, and then remove from heat. Add 1 tablespoon of white wine, 2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh garlic, and the juice of half a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Toss.
When mushrooms are done, place them cap side down on an ovenproof plate. Top each with a heaping spoonful of the spinach mixture and then top with a generous sprinkling of Panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs).
Drizzle with melted butter and broil until golden brown.
Panko is Japanese-style breadcrumbs.
Recipe provided by Vieux Carre Restaurant.
Time to prepare: 50 minutes.