I admit that sometimes I make that classic cooking error and make something for the very first time when I’m going to serve it to guests. Sometimes it turns out fine, but it’s never great and it’s frequently a flat-out mistake, so this time I decided to try a new recipe before I have to make it for people other than my child and husband.

It started out when my friend Joan mentioned she made this mushroom strudel for Thanksgiving. Joan is a vegan (I can say that, right Joan?) and since I’m a vegan-wannabe, I was instantly intrigued. I knew I’d be cooking dinner for my family for Easter and they love mushrooms. Maybe they’d like this? And I’d be able to eat it since there wouldn’t be dairy or meat in it?

So I got the receipt from Joan.

And I balked.

Because of the coconut milk.

The last time I used coconut milk in a recipe, it turned out horribly. It made me angry. And even though I’m taking the time to pre-cook this recipe, it is only a formality. I don’t want it to turn out badly, and I certainly don’t have time to pre-cook it again with different ingredients! So I found a mushroom strudel recipe that used cream cheese instead of coconut milk. Sorry, Joan. Next time you make it, please let me know so I can be convinced to try to cook the vegan version again!

After switching to the non-vegan ingredients, things started to go poorly. I only had one sheet of puff pastry (it calls for foursheets of Phylo dough). And I was impatient and broke my sad little sheet of puff pastry instead of waiting for it to defrost. And here’s where the beauty of pre-cooking comes in: “Oh well,” I thought. “I’m just pre-cooking, right? It’s all about tasting okay. It doesn’t have to look perfect.” Uh huh.

I sauteed the mushrooms with the shallots and parsley while the little guy crawled around.

I rolled out my three little pathetic sheets of puff pastry. The broccoli waited patiently to be cooked for lunch.

I melted the butter and spread it on the pastry with my fingers. I swear I used to have a pastry brush, but no longer. Alas, it worked just fine. Sprinkled on the breadcrumbs. “Is this how this is supposed to look?” I wondered. “Oh well, we’ll see.” The joy of pre-cooking!

Here are my three sheets of puff pastry with the mushroom/cream cheese filling on top. The filling, by the way, is ridiculously good. I may just serve it out of a bowl. I think people will appreciate it just as much.

Now if I’d had the appropriate four larger sheets of Phyllo or, honestly, even one large sheet of puff pastry, this would have worked out a lot better. I think it’s supposed to be long and flat-ish to be rolled. But working with my own mistake I produced this:

Mushroom Strudel Softball!

Hmmm. Doesn’t look too appetizing, but at least I got it to hang together!

And voila! Ugly, but delicious. See, even Phoebe the pug would like a piece. Nate ate it, Ken ate it, and we’ll see how it goes over this weekend. Fingers crossed the official “cooked” version turns out to be as beautiful as it is delicious.

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