I have a sort of foodie friend in the office I work in. We chat about recipes we’ve tried, new ingredients we found, what we’re going to cook over the weekend, cookbooks, pretty much anything food related. I love finding people who love to cook because talking to them gets me excited about new flavors, cuisines, and ingredients that I might not have been familiar with or known about before.
A few weeks ago he came into the office on Monday morning talking about a meal he had at Gjelina over the weekend. He led with the dessert – heavenly butterscotch pots de creme – then he moved on to the mushroom toast. I have no idea what else he ate there because we couldn’t move past the mushrooms. Oh my god, the mushroom toast. The chef says he can’t take these off the menu because the customers will revolt. They’re that good.
Like any obsessive home cook, he had already bought the cookbook and was ready to try to recreate them at home. I wouldn’t have thought much more about these mushroom toasts except to ask for a follow-up the next week. But the next week he hadn’t made them. The week after that he bought a mixture of fancy mushrooms at the farmer’s market, but was stymied by the homemade creme fraiche, which had to be cultured at exactly 78° F… Three weeks I waited for the report on the mushrooms toasts! And in the meantime I found myself reading blog posts of people who had recreated them and scrolling through instagram shots from the restaurant just to see what they looked like in their natural habitat. Yeah, I know I have problems.
Eventually i had to take matters into my own hands. A quick trip to my local produce market to pick up mushrooms and good bread and a jaunt over to Trader Joe’s for reasonably priced creme fraiche and I was ready! I was out of garlic confit, although I have a recipe for my version right over here, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I quickly infused some garlic in oil, used that to toast the breads. You can toast them in the toaster, but for this recipe it’s much better on the stovetop (or grill, as the original recipe calls for) because the outside will be incredibly crunchy, but the inside of the slices will still be moist and springy. A quick saute of the mushrooms, reduction of some white wine and shallots, and the addition of some creme fraiche and I was eating the best lunch I could ask for!
The recipe notes say that the chef enjoys a big slab of mushroom toast with an earthy glass of red wine for dinner and I must say he’s on to something. Normally you might match the wine to whatever type of wine you used in the dish, but here the earthy meatiness of the mushrooms is perfect with red. This is a decadent and delicious vegetarian appetizer or main course that I would be more than happy to eat again and again.
So here it is, a doable version of the original. Although homemade garlic confit and homemade buttermilk creme fraiche would undoubtedly be amazing with this recipe, if they’re holding you back from making this recipe then don’t do them! If you do want to go the extra mile, you can find the original recipe in full here.
- ⅓ c. olive oil
- 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2-4 slices good bread (depending on size)
- ½ lb mushrooms (see notes)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 T minced shallots
- 1 T butter (optional)
- ½ c. dry white wine
- 1T fresh thyme
- ½ c. creme fraiche
- 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
- Add the olive oil and garlic slices to a small frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook until garlic slices are beginning to brown on the edges, then remove with a slotted spoon and save for later. Remove oil from heat.
- Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of garlic oil on both sides of the bread. Heat a frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, then add the bread in a single layer. Cook until the bread is crispy and browned on the first side, then flip and cook the second side in the same manner. Remove the toasts to a plate.
- Separate or chop mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. This will mean different things based on which mushrooms you have so use your best judgment of what size mushroom chunks will fit nicely on your toast. Turn the heat under the frying pan to medium high and add 3 T of the garlic olive oil to the frying pan. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until seared and well browned, about 5 minutes. Stir the mushrooms, add the shallots and the butter if the pan seems like it needs more moisture. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the wine, thyme, and reserved garlic slices and continue to cook until reduced by half.
- Stir in the creme fraiche and cook until thickened slightly, 1-2 mins. Stir in the parsley, taste and season again with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms evenly over your toasts.
- Although these are fancy mushroom toasts, you should feel free to use any mushrooms that you have access to or can afford. I really know nothing about fancy mushrooms so I picked these based on looks and price and ended up with oyster and brown clamshell. The original recipe suggests a mix of nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, or matsutake. However, the mushrooms share the spotlight with the sauce and toast and as I was eating these I thought they would be just as delicious with regular old sliced crimini.