This must be one of the easiest canapés to prepare: you can make it well in advance, you can serve it at any temperature and presented well, it will get a lot of attention. The best thing is that you can play around with various ingredients and make it different every time: leek & smoked salmon for a lazy Sunday brunch, courgette & onion as a refreshing starter, goats' cheese & sundried tomato for a summer picnic... I could go on and on.
Frittata is an Italian dish, it means "fried" and is an egg dish which carries a lot of resemblance to the Spanish tortilla. The main difference between the two is that a tortilla is usually prepared in the pan only, whereas a frittata is often finished off by baking it in the oven. The egg mixture also tends to be more prominent in a frittata than in a tortilla, where the egg is really just used to hold the vegetables together.
This recipe calls for baking only - which is great, as the preparation is minimal and you can get on with other things while it cooks to perfection. If serving this at a cocktail party, try putting bite-sized pieces on individual forks or arrange them nicely on a plate with toothpicks and a horseradish crème fraîche to dip them in. And if you're looking for a quick dinner, just bake it in a quiche mould or springform tin, cut it into wedges and serve it with a salad on the side... there's nothing wrong with making a meal of a perfectly comforting thing!
Mushroom frittata bites
(yields 50 bites of 2 x 2 x 2 cm)
75 g dried porcini mushrooms
3 tbsp olive oil
200 g shitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
6 tbsp parmesan (roughly grated)
370 g ricotta (or dry curd cheese)
parsley (chopped) - to serve
Soak the porcini mushrooms in lukewarm water for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, cut the leek in half lengthways, then into thin slices. Clean the shitake by wiping them gently with kitchen towel (they usually don't require washing), then chop roughly.
Preheat your oven to 200 C. Heat the olive oil a heavy-based non-stick pan, add the leeks and garlic and fry until soft and starting to brown. Drain the porcini and squeeze out any excess water, then add them to the pan with the shitake mushrooms. Stir until the shitake have gone soft and glossy.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the ricotta, add 4 tbsp of the parmesan and season with salt, pepper and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Stir in the mushrooms.
Line a baking tray (40 x 30 cm) with baking parchment or a teflon baking mat, then pour in the egg mixture, spreading it evenly. It should be about 1.5 cm high, as it will rise slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
Transfer the tin into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until set.
Remove and leave to cool. When cooled down, cut into 2x2x2 cm pieces and set aside until ready to serve. (You can prepare this a day in advance up to this point).
If serving immediately, just sprinkle with parsley.
If using later, store in the fridge in an airtight container, then place the mushroom fritatta bites on a lined baking tray when almost ready to serve, put under the pre-heated grill to warm through and gently brown. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
For a lunch/dinner:
Cut into portions straight from the oven and serve with a salad.