~ Meatless Mushroom Duxelles & Gruyere Crostini ~
For lack of better words, I'm going to refer to this mouthwatering crostini recipe as an "all-purpose, all-occasion" hors d'oeuvre. They complement a host of foods, and, can be served (for brunch, lunch, or dinner), at casual or upscale gatherings. They pair well with all sorts of cocktails, as well as red or white wine. They can be passed prior to an entrée of fish, seafood, poultry, porcine or meat. They can be served with a cup of soup and/or a salad. They are meatless too. That makes them perfect for meatless meals, certain religious holidays, and, entertaining vegetarian friends. There's more: they are, relatively speaking, easy to make.
A bit about duxelles (dook-SEHL): "Considered easy to prepare", it's a mixture of finely-chopped (minced) mushrooms, shallot or onion, sometimes garlic and herbs that are slowly cooked in butter until it takes on the form of a nicely-browned creamy paste. Cream is sometimes added as well, and, cream is a preference of mine. Any type of cultivated or wild mushrooms can be used, as long as they are fresh, and chefs choose which ones to use depending upon the depth of flavor they hope to achieve.
While "considered easy", because making duxelles relies on evaporation to thicken it and concentrate the flavor (the longer you cook it, the better it gets), the cooking time is a bit lengthy. You'll need 3 cups duxelles to make these crostini and you can find my "easier" method and recipe for ~ Duxelles: Rich, Refined Mouthwatering Mushrooms ~ in Categories 14, 15 or 21. You will also need 3 cups grated Gruyère cheese, and, fresh thyme sprigs for garnish.
A bit about crostini: In Italian, "bruschetta" means "oiled slice". "Crostini" simply means "toast", meaning it doesn't always end up drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. Like bruschetta, crostini are topped with savory toppings. Unlike bruschetta, they are made using smaller, long and thin-shaped bread, like a baguette or a batard. Crostini are always served as a snack or an appetizer before a meal, or, an accompaniment to the meal. In the case of both bruschetta and crostini, any size, color or flavor of bread can be used, but it must be crusty and firm textured.
Note: A French batard is first cousin to the baguette. Batards are shorter than baguettes and a bit plumper, which give my crostini the perfect surface area for the topping.
~ Step 1. To prepare the toasts, cut each batard into approximately 20, 1/2"-thick slices. Place the bread slices, in a single layer, on 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper.
~ Step 2. Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 7"-8" underneath it. Spread an even layer of softened butter over the top of each slice of bread on both pans. Place one pan under the broiler and cook until lightly-browned and bubbly on the first side, about 2 1/2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and flip slices over. The second sides do not get buttered. Return to broiler and cook on the second side, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Remove from oven. Repeat this process with the second pan.
~ Step 3. Top each bread slice with a tablespoon of duxelle. Spread the duxelle evenly over the top, stopping just short of the edge all the way around the perimeter (don't let the duxelles hang down over the sides). Mound (don't sprinkle it evenly over the top) a generous tablespoon of grated Gruyère over the duxelles on each slice. One-at-a-time, place each pan under the broiler again just long enough for the cheese to melt without browning, about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a serving platter, garnish each crostini with a small sprig of fresh thyme and serve immediately.
Care for a few crostini w/a bowl of my tomato bisque?
Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated bread knife; hand-held box grater; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper
Cook's Note: You can find my recipe for ~ Get Out Your Whisk & Make this Tomato Bisque ~ in Categories 1, 2, 14, 21. You need recipes like this, I need recipes like this, all of us cooks need recipes like this. This creamy, rich tomato bisque is what I call a "go to" recipe -- one I rely upon for a variety of kitchen encounters. With Easter quickly approaching, my plan is to serve it and my crostini with my holiday ham -- it also goes great with lamb or lamb chops too!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)