Remember the scene in Bedknobs and Broomsticks when Charlie rebels against eating nettles and declares that he wants some “toad in the ‘ole”? My boys were intrigued. What is this toad-in-the-hole, of which he speaks? So I broke out my handy dandy Rupert the Bear cookbook (circa 1974), and Malcolm and I schemed together to make our own, vegetarian version. It’s fun flipping through the pages of my Rupert cookbook. These must have been some of the first things I learned how to make. I’ve been wracking my brains lately, trying to think of the absolute first thing. I just don’t know! David said his was cinnamon toast, which seems like such a nice thing to know how to make. Do you remember the first thing you knew how to make, all by yourself?
So we decided to follow the recipe for toad in the hole (which is a strange practice for me!) accept that, obviously, we wouldn’t be putting sausages in! We could easily have used fake sausages from the store, the boys love them! But I wanted to try something a little more inventive, so we used mushrooms, marinated in sausage-y herbs and spices, and then roasted till they were quite crispy. It turned out delicious!! I added a little bit of smoked gouda to the pudding batter (Just can’t leave well enough alone!) because I think it adds a nice meaty flavor to mushrooms. Other than that, we stuck to the recipe pretty carefully. Which I might not do next time – the book only calls for one egg, but I think with two it would have puffed up much more nicely. That’s how I’ll write the recipe – with two eggs!
Here’s Teddy the Toad by Count Basie
FOR THE MUSHROOMS
10 oz mushrooms (I used baby bella, but regular white mushrooms would do)
3 T olive oil
1 T balsamic
1 clove garlic – minced or crushed
1/2 t sage
1/2 t rosemary
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t. fennel seeds, crushed
salt and plenty of pepper
FOR THE PUDDING
2 T butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup grated smoked gouda
Chop the mushrooms lengthwise, through the stems, until you have about 1/2 – 1 inch wide pieces. For me this meant cutting them in half, and then in halves or thirds. Try to cut them through the stems, so that the stems stay attached.
Put them in a shallow pan with all of the other marinade ingredients, and toss to coat. You might need to add a bit more olive oil so that everything is coated. Malcolm and I made this before I went to work, and then he stirred it every hour or so while I was gone. But you probably don’t need it to sit that long.
Preheat the oven to 425. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet. If there’s garlic clinging to the mushrooms, include that, but don’t include every little piece. Roast for 20 minutes to half an hour, till they’re starting to look very dark and crispy. Your baking sheet may smoke and carry on, but it will be fine in the end.
Put the flour in a bowl. Add the salt, mix well, and make a well in the center. Add the milk, nutmeg, and eggs and whisk till everything is very smooth. (this was Malcolm’s job! And he did it very well!) Stir in the cheese.
Put 2 T butter in a 9 X 9 ish pan. (Mine was round. An 8 inch round would work, or a square pan of a similar size…)
Stick it in the oven for a minute or two, till the butter is melted and bubbly, but not too brown.
Take it out. Spread the mushrooms around evenly. Pour the batter over.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 and bake for about another 20, till everything is brown and crispy on top.
As the Rupert cookbook says…serve with freshly-cooked green vegetables that your mum can help you make!