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Pin to Table: Cooking in a Digital World

My initial criticisms of Pinterest (an online bulletin board) before I joined were the same as everybody else’s: It’s just pictures of clothes I’ll never wear, decorating ideas I’ll never do and food I’ll never cook.

Well, scratch that last one, because on a rainy night last week, I cooked something I found on Pinterest. I had “pinned” a really interesting Mushroom Wellington recipe. I’m a huge fan of Beef Wellington and all dishes French and “1980s gourmet.”

I also like to make meat dishes into vegetarian or vegan ones. See my food feature No Meat Required in which “vegetarian dishes steal the identity of traditionally carnivore favorites," and also Edgy Veggies, another article about veggies with serious attitude.

My old college roommate, who I call Pete (no really, we all call her Pete), also a Pinner on Pinterest and a Facebook friend (natch), commented on my Mushroom Wellington pin: “You just changed my life. Beef Wellington is one dish that I do actually miss since becoming a vegetarian!”

Now I had to make it. I’ve had success in the past using mushrooms to replace meat. I hosted a Chicken Paprikash party and for a vegan neighbor, I created a “Mushroom Paprikash” using portabellas, a meaty mushroom.

Mushroom Wellington also called for portabellas, and—like the real thing—puff pastry. I’d never worked with the puff pastry before, so it was kind of daunting, but I was ready to try this.

I decided to share my progress with Pete via Facebook. “I'm attempting Mushroom Wellington tonight--I'll let you know how it turns out!” That post on her wall was followed by others. She replied: “Oh my gosh! Yes, please do let me know! If it goes well for you, I'll run straight to the store and make it tomorrow!”

As I got into the recipe, I continued to update: “So far...step 5 will have you flexing your chef muscles: 5. Very carefully roll the pastry over the top of the mushroom mixture until you have a log. Tuck the edges under the pastry, ensuring the seam is facing the bottom” and so on. She said something about pending disaster, I assured her I was drinking Sauvignon Blanc and that everything was under control.

It came out of the oven looking just as gorgeous as it had on Pinterest! I snipped some fresh thyme from my herb garden, placed it on top and put the whole thing on a platter. And took a photo, of course. This is the world we live in. Create, post to social media…instant gratification. It was delicious.

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