First, prepare the mushrooms by rinsing under cold water one at a time, rubbing off any dirt, and gently removing the stems by popping them out with your thumb, the stem will usually pop right out. If any stem remains in mushroom, simply pull it out with your fingers and place on paper towels along with the whole stems to dry. Arrange the whole mushrooms in a shallow baking pan.
The next step is to mince the onions. Mince finely on your cutting board or just pulsed once or twice in the food processor. Mince the garlic super-finely. Mince the mushroom stems and pieces. Chop the fresh basil leaves, no need to mince just chop real fine.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Toast your bread crumbs in a DRY frying pan (this promotes the flavor in the crumbs) medium heat, evenly toast them being careful not to burn, remove from pan and set aside. Do not wipe out the pan!
Place 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the same frying pan on medium to medium high heat. The oil needs to get hot enough for the onions to sizzle when added in order to properly sauté them. This can be tricky, be careful not to burn the oil. Throw in a couple trial pieces of onion and slowly increase the heat until you get it right. Now, add all of your onions and keep 'em moving in the pan, (you don't want them to brown!). Now, add one whole bay leaf, a pinch of salt, a dash of fresh black pepper, keeping the onions moving all the while. Throw in the minced garlic, pan still movin', add the fresh chopped basil and the dried basil. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, sweating the onions until clear. Lower the heat to the low side of medium. You can now stop moving the pan and just stir occasionally, don't burn it!
Add the toasted bread crumbs to the pan, along with the 1/4 cup of Romano cheese. Squeeze the juice from the lemon directly into the pan (watch out for seeds). Stir in the mushroom stems and pieces. Mixture should appear very dry initially, but will moisten up as the mushroom stems release their juices. Continue stirring occasionally until mixture is moist enough to hold together. If too dry simply add a touch more lemon juice or olive oil. Remove from heat. Fish out the whole bay leaf and discard it. Pour the stuffing mixture into a glass bowl and let cool slightly while you move on to the next step.
Spoon the soft garlic cheese into each whole mushroom nearly to the top and place back in baking pan. Now, spoon stuffing mixture on top of each cheese filled mushroom, using the spoon to pack and shape it neatly. You really want to over stuff them and make large mound like an ice cream cone. Larger measuring spoons work great for this! Once all mushrooms are stuffed and placed back in the pan, sprinkle the whole thing lightly with remaining grated Romano cheese.
Bake uncovered, center of oven, at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until brown and the mushrooms are no longer white. The mushrooms should release a small amount of juice into the bottom of the pan. You're done!
Let cool for a minute or two.
Optionally top with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
Great served hot as an appetizer with your favor white wine! Incredible served cold as a snack with beer. Downright awesome for lunch as a left-over the next day, just no drinkin' at work!
*Try to get these as large as you can. Buying them pre-packaged is not a good idea as these packages usually contain the smaller mushrooms. Try to pick them out of the bins yourself. Look for the whiter mushrooms with no blemishes, this is important as blemishes indicate older mushrooms which tend to be slimy when cooked.
**I use a brand known as Rondele' or Allouette garlic and herb flavor. To me this is critical but may be hard to find. Any brand garlic flavored cream cheese will substitute in a pinch.
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Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!