The evenings have been cool around these parts lately. We’ve dug out the heavy knit sweaters and I managed to find the slippers I tossed away like an empty carton of milk last April. It’s wild how quickly fall has nestled itself into our lives. I love it. The way the crisp air clears out your lungs and makes them feel brand new. It’s as though I’ve been taking half breaths for the last few months and I can finally inhale deep into the pit of my gut again. It feels good and real. I’m odd that way. Where most of you come alive in the Spring, I come back to life in the fall. Running outside when everyone is woefully coming back in. It’s time to get back in the kitchen, to cook slowly and with intention, to get re-inspired and rouse some curiosity. And I’m starting with something tried and true.
These mushrooms on toast always pop up around September/October in our kitchen. As soon as the temperature drops, I crave them. It’s an earthy dish, deep and hearty with an herbal kick from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a slight puckering milkiness from the Crème Fraîche – everything is in perfect balance. Simple in execution but big in flavour, I’ve no doubt they’ll move to the top of your simple-but-satisfying meal list.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 lbs cremini or wild mushrooms*, sliced thin
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brandy or chicken stock
3 tbsp Crème Fraîche (sour cream will do in a pinch)
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to garnish
Rye or Whole Grain Bread, sliced and toasted
olive oil, to garnish
Melt butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the mushrooms. DO NOT ADD SALT. Let them cook, without stirring, for 8-10 minutes. As they cook, they’ll start to soften and release their excess moisture. When they start to crisp, tighten and shrink, you can start to stir. Add in the sprigs of thyme, garlic, and red pepper flakes and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the wine or stock, Crème Fraîche and stir, scraping any stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced and mushrooms are beautiful and creamy. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper, tasting as you go until you’re happy with the flavour.
Spoon over toasted rye bread and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
*specifically: shiitake, chanterlle, oyster