When I recently did a catering for a christening, one of the guests had some kind of epiphany... and it was these crostini that brought it all about. These canapés were the fourth or fifth in a succession of fingerfood and while I was assembling food in the kitchen, my daughter was bringing out the plates of food and serving them to the guests.
She usually very diligently explains what she offers people, so that there are no nasty surprises, but when she went out with these crostini, one gentleman must have been too engaged in a conversation to hear her explanations. So he grabbed one, confidently as he had liked all the things he'd had so far, ate it and when she had done the round, he grabbed my daughter by the arm and said "that was lovely, but what was it?". When she explained, he couldn't believe he had just had two mouthfuls of mushrooms, which he normally hates... and said if they always tasted like this, mushrooms would be his favourite food! So these crostini had done some magic - and in their combination with thyme, mascarpone and parmesan converted a mushroom loather into a mushroom aficionado!!!
Mushroom, parmesan & thyme crostini*
20 g butter
150 g shitake mushrooms (or 250 g button, cep etc mushrooms - whatever is at hand)
20 g dried porcini mushrooms
1 shallot (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp thyme leaves
2 tbsp sherry oloroso (optional)
2 tbsp marscarpone
3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
salt & pepper to season
1 thin baguette
thyme leaves and parmesan shavings to decorate
Soak the porcini in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and chop finely.
Cut 24 slices off the baguette, ca. 2 cm thick. Arrange on a tray and grill in the oven until starting to turn a golden brown, turn over and repeat. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the mushroom topping, clean the mushrooms with a brush or some kitchen towel, then slice thinly. Heat the butter in a non-stick pan, fry the shallot and garlic until starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and cover the pan with a lid. After 5 minutes, add the porcini mushrooms and the sherry (if using). Cook until all the liquids have evaporated.
Add the mascarpone and thyme, then take off the heat and stir in the parmesan. Leave to cool.
You can prepare all of this a day in advance, if you want, keeping the ingredients in air-tight containers in the fridge.
When ready to assemble, spoon a heaped teaspoon of the mushroom mix (at room temperature) onto the baguette, top with a shaving of parmesan and sprinkle with thyme.
* based on recipe in Eric Treuille, "Canapés"