Is it winter or is it not? Is spring upon us or is there more snow to come? These last few months have been a bipolar mix of sunshine and double digit temperatures plunging into sleety rain and cutting winds.

Putting the environmental implications of this fluctuating weather aside (and sadly there are many), it has been exciting peering out the curtains first thing in the morning – will there be snow blanketing the yard or will there be blazing rays and chirping birds?

This unpredictability is made for me – I’m a little prone to boredom and a lot indecisive. Having my schedule change from week to week is key. I get to hang upside down in yoga silks and act like a monkey some days, I get to sling beers and listen to some great live music others, I cook yummy stuff and ramble on to you and I have the lake and my guys at home to fill those other times… and Netflix.

I dig variety when it comes to food as well, but I’ve never been able to get on board with creamy foods. In the last fews years I’ve learned a lot about myself and my tastes. After experimenting with cream I discovered a touch can add cohesive depth and richness without being gluey.

(Check out my Skinny Pesto Carbonara – a riff on Jamie Oliver’s recipe in which he lightens up a classic I’ve never been able to stomach.)

I like to keep my taste buds on their toes, but I have a difficult time not going overboard with spices and garlic. Often I find that perfect balance then add one more element that tips the dish into a garbled mess.

Coco Chanel had a great fashion rule: just before you go out the door, a women should remove one accessory. That certainly applies to cooking. Let one or two things shine rather than a mess of five or six ingredients competing for the spotlight.

These Creamy Mushroom Toasties do just that. I wanted to add a bunch more herbs, wine, veg and layers of flavour, but it just doesn’t need it. This is a mushroom dish and everything else is designed to make them sing.

Simple is best… it only took me 38 years to figure that out.

 

CREAMY MUSHROOM TOASTIES

makes 8 pieces – serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main

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These guys are so yummy at room temperature, which make them great for a buffet. I like to serve them with a few lemon wedges to add some acidity.

As I become more conscious of the need to reduce meat in my diet, dishes like this serve quite well as a beautiful lunch paired with a light and crunchy salad or even some soup.

Even though the word ‘creamy’ is in the name, it’s not a thick mess, the cream only serves to add a hint of richness.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbsp olive oil (or 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter)

227 grams/8 oz mixed mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 bulb fennel, thinly sliced

1 tsp dried thyme

kosher salt

lots of fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup cubed mozzarella

1/2 baguette sliced on a bias into 8 pieces

olive oil for brushing

fresh grated parmesan for serving

optional: lemon wedges

 

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  • Heat a skillet to medium high and add your oil (or butter and oil). Toss in the mushrooms and saute 5 minutes or until browned. Keep them moving for the first couple minutes until they begin to release liquid so they don’t stick.
  • Add your garlic and fennel and saute another 3 minutes or so, until they soften. Season with thyme, lots of pepper and a pinch or 2 of salt to taste.

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  • Pour in the cream and stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Check for seasoning and add mozzarella, combing well.

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  • Meanwhile, set your oven or toaster oven to broil. Brush 1 side of your bread slices with oil and place oil side up on a sheet pan. Lightly brown the slices and remove from oven.
  • Flip your toasts and divide the mushroom mixture between your slices, piling high. Don’t worry about some falling off, you can re-top it later. Grate over a little parmesan cheese and return to the broiler. Toast until the cheese begins to melt and everything is warmed through.

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To serve, grate a little more parmesan over and squeeze a little fresh lemon over top.

For a light lunch, serve with a crisp salad.

 

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