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12/09/2015

~ Easy, Creamy & Dreamy: Mushroom Bruschetta ~

PICT3448My history with this decadent dish dates back to December, 2011.  I ordered it in a recently-restored, historic hotel and fine-dining restaurant in our area.  Everything my girlfriend Jeanne and I ate that afternoon was superb, but, this dish, my appetizer, blew me away.  I liked it so much, I left a big tip and asked for the recipe.  A few minutes later, I was handed a computer-generated copy.  If you've ever been given a recipe by a chef, you know there is not much too it: a very short list of ingredients, garnishes, and, a few cryptic instructions.  Chef's write/type like they talk -- fast and to the point:  all business, no nonsense, and I'm very comfortable with that.

PICT1790This photo (which I took that day) is their mushroom bruschetta: two thick pieces of day-old Italian bread (surprisingly, they used an Italian sub/hoagie roll) get toasted, top and bottom, in some butter, then plated.  After a quick saute of garlic, shallots and mushrooms, cream and Parm-Regg goes into the skillet to boil along with a sprig of fresh rosemary.  The sauce goes over the bread and the garnishes go on.

For those of you who don't know, bruschetta (broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" in Italian, and comes from the Italian word bruscare (broo-scar-ay), which means to toast over coals. Bruschetta is the original garlic toast.  Its preparation is so simple, it really requires no formal instructions.  Traditionally, large, thick slices of firm, crusty, bread are toasted over an open wood fire, rubbed with plenty of fresh garlic while they are still warm, generously drizzled with the finest olive oil available, sprinkled with salt and served alongside or topped with fresh basil, tomatoes and buffalo-milk mozzarella.  When/if a sauce is drizzled over the top, the toasts turn into a decadent knife-and-fork meal, which is exactly how this is prepared and served.  From start to finish, this one takes just 5-6 minutes to prepare -- even less time in a restaurant kitchen.

It is divine, refined & has a deliciously scandalous story too:  

If you're wondering why I'm not throwing around the name of the restaurant, it's because it closed-without-notice. The owners left a note on the door in the middle of the night and weren't available for comment -- rumor had it they took off to Florida.  The place had been shamelessly mismanaged, community investors lost money and employees lost jobs without notice.  Scandal and gossip circulated everywhere, lawsuits got filed, and, to this day, all I can say with certainty:

To the victor goes the spoils -- I got this recipe & made it mine!

PICT3415For the bread:

1  medium-textured, day-old, 6"-7" hoagie- or sub-type roll, crusty ends trimmed off

3 tablespoons salted butter

For the sauce:

2  tablespoons salted butter

1/4  teaspoon white pepper

1  garlic clove, run through a press, 1/2 teaspoon 

1 1/2  teaspoons minced shallots (sweet onion may be substituted)

1  cup thinly-sliced white button mushroom caps, no stems

2-3  tablespoons white wine

1  cup heavy or whipping cream

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

1  3"-4" sprig fresh rosemary

2  tablespoons finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the garnish:

2  tablespoons peeled, seeded & small-diced tomato

1-2  teaspoons additional finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2-1  teaspoon minced, fresh parsley

1  tomato rose (made from the above tomato) and a small sprig of fresh rosemary (both optional)

PICT3421~ Step 1.  Trim the ends from the roll and slice the center section into two pieces, about 2 1/2" long each.  In a restaurant, where they make a lot of bruschetta, they save and use the ends to make croutons.

PICT3428~ Step 2.  In a 10" nonstick skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat.  Add the bread.  Increase heat to medium-high and toast the bread until golden on both sides, about 30-60 seconds per side, turning only once.  The second side will cook faster than the first. Remove bread from the skillet and place on a paper-towel lined plate. Set aside.

PICT3436 PICT3432~ Step 3. Wipe the skillet clean. Return to stovetop and melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat.  Stir in the white pepper.  Add garlic, shallots and mushrooms. Increase heat to saute until vegetables are softened, but not browned, about 1 minute.  Add the wine and continue to saute PICT3441about 1 minute, or until reduced slightly.

~ Step 4.  Add the cream and stir in the sea salt.  Place the sprig of rosemary on top of the mixture. Adjust heat to a rapid simmer and continue to cook until the cream is thickened, about 1-1 1/2 minutes.

PICT3447Remove the rosemary after about 45 seconds of cooking.

PICT3450Note:  Rosemary, an overpowering herb, should be used judiciously.  It should be in the cream just long enough to add a hint of flavor.

~ Step 5.  Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheese.

~ Step 6.  To serve, arrange toasted bread in a shallow soup plate.  Pour all of the sauce over the top. Garnish with diced tomato, a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a bit of minced parsley.

A perfect way to start an elegant holiday meal:

PICT3467Easy, Creamy & Dreamy:  Mushroom Bruschetta:  Recipe yields 2 appetizer-sized servings, or, 1 small-meal serving.  By increasing the size of the skillet to 12"-14" the recipe can be increased to make as many as 8 appetizer-sized servings, or, 4 small-meal servings at one time.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife and/or paring knife; microplane grater; 10" skillet, preferably nonstick; slotted spoon or spatula; paper towels

PICT3748Cook's Note:  A tomato rose is a classic way to garnish a dish in an elegant manner.  To learn ~ How to: Make an Incredible Edible Tomato Rose ~, click into Categories 15 or 21.  It's easy too -- make one or two and you'll see!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015) 

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