As the Holiday Season approaches, you may already be thinking about the need for appetizers. Here's one of my favourites.
In the course of sharing this recipe, I will do a bit of "name dropping" - not that I personally know any of the names I will drop - but you may want to know more about them. (And please note that this is not a sponsored post.) I first made this for a Xmas Eve with Mr. KB and Son #2. Facing a big meal the next day, for "the Eve" we decided to have wine and nice appetizers. I stumbled upon this recipe from Smitten Kitchen - and it's a keeper. Deb Perelman is "Smitten". She lives in NYC and began her food blog in 2006 - a pioneer in food blogging! I was in the same room with her when she was the Keynote Speaker at FBC 2016 in Toronto. I did not stand in line for a selfie, so you'll just have to take my word for it. In person she is gentle and self-effacing, but underneath that there has to be a powerhouse that fuels her work - her website and two cookbooks. Until / unless you check out her books, subscribe to her weekly digest, or follow her on social media to be regularly inspired.
On her Smitten Kitchen website, Perelman does not limit herself to recipes that she "invents". She seems to enjoy bringing the world of cooking and cooks to her readers. When she shares one of their recipes she almost always adds her own little spin on ingredients or techniques. Perelman acknowledges that this recipe is inspired by Melissa Clark, who has been (among other things) a NYT food writer since 2007. If I describe Perelman as a powerhouse - then how do I describe Clark - who has written over 36 (not a typo - thirty-six) cookbooks?
Clark's latest book focuses on Instant Pots - the Canadian invention that is the latest kitchen tool craze. I am not sure if resistance is futile, but so far I have resisted purchasing this. Users seem most thrilled with the pressure cooker feature that speeds up so many kitchen tasks. From decades ago, I am used to seeing relatives in Hungary use pressure cookers, so do not need to be convinced about their value - or the usefulness of the Instant Pot. I have read so many online debates, and am not taking sides. Right now I simply have no space for another big-ish machine. What I do have is time - so making something quickly is not a priority right now.
Here's Clark's version of this appetizer - inspired by her purchase of (expensive) Morel mushrooms. In Perelman's recipe, the only adaptation seems to be switching the type of mushrooms. My version makes one change to toasting the brioche bread - both sides!
- chop the mushrooms
- chop the shallots - this is about the only prep you can do ahead of time
Creamed Mushrooms on Toast
1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, or a mix of wild mushrooms such as morels, shiitakes, oysters or chanterelles
If necessary, clean the mushrooms with a brush or paper towel. You can even give them a super quick rinse under cold water. Yes! These days kitchen wisdom agrees that mushrooms must not be "soaked" in water, but there are no ill effects from a quick rinse and pat dry - just before using!
Slice, then chop the mushrooms into 1/4" to 1/8" pieces.
2 TB unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
2 TB dry white wine or white vermouth
In a frying pan, over medium heat, sauté the shallots in the melted butter until soft and translucent - about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about five minutes. Add wine, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for about five minutes more.
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Uncover the pan and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about two minutes. Stir in the cream; simmer until slightly thickened, two minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Slices of brioche, egg bread
1 TB fresh chopped chives
Coarse sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon, for garnish
These creamed mushrooms taste the best on toasted brioche, or challah bread, egg bread. I feel lucky that my local baker has cute little loaves that are perfect for this. If your loaf is larger, then it's probably best to cut the slices in half for a more manageable appetizer. How much bread? Hard to predict - depends on how your guests load the mushrooms onto the toast. More bread is better than not enough - and who doesn't love left-over egg bread?
Both of the origin recipes say simply to toast the bread, but I was not satisfied with bread that was toasted on only one side. I put a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and broiled the slices of bread. Watch this carefully - you may know that egg bread can burn very quickly! I then flip each slice over and return it to the broiler for a quick crisping of the other side.
Both Clark and Perelman suggest buttering the toasts - I have never done that. I also stir the chives into the mixture instead of the messy sprinkling idea. That little hit of a salt garnish is nice, but impractical if guests are serving themselves.
Notes and Tips...
- Mushroom Type - I have made this with only cremini, but the flavour is enhanced with a few more flavourful mushrooms added to the mix (e.g. shitake)
- For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.
<== Questions or Comments about this recipe? Visit the Recipe Q. C. page - looking forward to hearing from you!