Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mushroom Appetizers

The focus is on simple holiday appetizers.  I like ones that come together quickly or can be frozen and reheated when needed so the cook and the kitchen can stay focused on the main meal or other party matters.

I created a tasty mushroom appetizer that can be hand-held, made ahead and even frozen.  It’s instant party food. 

And it does not require any pastry skills so I’m hoping all my friends will give it a try.  Think if it as a simple mushroom sandwich with a cheesy top layer. When it’s cut in squares, the mini-sandwiches turn into toothpick-worthy puffs.

Mushroom Minis
Makes 30-36 squares
8 slices firm bread
4 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
1 shallot, peeled and  finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh herbs (your choice, parsley, dill, thyme)
3 ounces cream cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  2. Remove crusts from bread and butter four slices with 2 tablespoons of butter.  
  3. Lay butter side down in a 8”X 8” baking pan (metal preferred).  
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and mushrooms and cook over low heat stirring occasionally until mushroom juice has begun to evaporate.  Stir in herbs, anchovy paste if using and half of cream cheese then remove from heat.  
  5. Spoon warm mushroom mixture over  bread in baking pan.  
  6. In a small bowl , mix remaining butter and remaining cream cheese together.  Butter last four slices of bread with cream cheese mixture and lay, buttered side up over mushroom layer.  
  7. Sprinkle top layer with Parmesan cheese.  
  8. Bake at 400˚K for 12-15 minutes, until top cheese layer has begun to brown and edges of pan are showing that bread lining pan is browning.  You can peak by lifting the edge with a spatula.  (Repairs are easy with a little extra cheese.) 
  9. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before cutting into squares.  
To freeze: Cool completely, wrap in aluminum foil and freeze.  To reheat, places frozen squares on a plain baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 325˚F for 15 minutes.  Garnish with a roasted red pepper strip or sliced olive to serve.