Monday, May 27, 2013

Mushroom Toasts

One of my favorite brunchy, lunchy dishes to make, the Mushroom Toast, came to me by way of inspiration from a restaurant called Sycamore. A few years back, I ordered mushroom toasts off the menu and was absolutely taken with the earthy umami savoriness of the simple appetizer, and immediately decided to include it in my own repertoire. After some tinkering, I've got it right where I want it - walnuts were the magical ingredient that lifted it to perfection. Use whatever mushrooms you like, but I've found that the trinity of shiitake, hen-of-the-woods and oyster is my favorite.

Mushroom Toasts
Makes 2 servings

*1 small shallot, minced
*5-6 oz melange of wild mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean and chopped
*3 cloves of garlic – 2 minced, 1 thinly sliced
*1/4 cup chopped walnuts
*1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
*1 pinch chili flakes
*1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
*Small knob butter (about 1/2 tablespoon)
*2 slices of toasted bread (ideally from a nice rustic loaf, but I've been known to use sandwich bread)
*Truffle oil (optional)
*Freshly grated Parm-Reg
*2 fried eggs (optional)

In a wide pan, heat a glug of oil over medium and add the minced shallot. Sprinkle with some salt and saute for a few minutes before adding in the garlic. Saute for another minute and then toss in the mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes as they start to release their juices, then add the walnuts, thyme and chili flakes, season with S&P. Continue to cook a couple more minutes until the mushrooms are tender and have browned nicely. To finish, stir in the knob of butter, squeeze a lemon half gently over the mix and toss well. I usually spritz a fine mist of Trader Joe's Truffle Oil over the mix at that point, but there's plenty of flavor without it. Assemble the toasts by heaping the mushrooms over the bread (for extra tastiness, rub a cut garlic clove on top of the bread right after it has been toasted), then grate a little Parm-Reg over the mound and top each portion with a fried egg.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blog Anniversary!

Today marks the first anniversary of ol' Zou, and I'm happy to say that I've found it a very worthwhile venture. It's rewarding to look back on a year-long panorama of personal cookery while savoring some of the highlights in my mind's mouth, to see how much I've learned since last May. It floors me when I think about everything I haven't learned... skills I haven't yet honed, ingredients I haven't yet tasted, preparations I've yet to master...but I can't wait to absorb more knowledge (and more tasty foodstuffs) as I continue to grow as an amateur home cook and food enthusiast. Blogging has proved helpful in this pursuit as it pushes me to be more culinarily creative and adventurous as I explore new and delectable content for my stomach, and for the internet. Plus, it's nice to have all my recipes in one readily and publicly accessible, non-soup-stained place.

I thank the husband, my friends, and the many anonymous readers for their support and encouragement in this past year!