Winter is a tough time of the year for me. Not only is it cold and dark, but a lot of the fruits and veggies I like best are out of season (and the grocery store versions are often flavorless), so it is hard to keep the veggie count up. Mushrooms, however, have pretty consistent quality in the grocery store, so they are a good pick for me during this time of year.
I get tons of compliments on this particular recipe. I would say it is my top appetizer pick. It takes some time to make, but a lot of the more time intensive steps can be done in front of the TV, and these are great to stock the freezer with.
2 loaves of your favorite whole grain bread (using white just lowers the "healthiness" but I do it if I need to use up bread)
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp finely chopped shallots (or onion in a bind)
½ pound (227 grams) mushrooms finely chopped (use the grocery store scales)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup/250 ml whipping cream
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives (or the tops of green onions)parmesan cheese to top
The first part is making the bread tart shells. I use a wine glass to make the bread rounds because they usually have narrower edges than a normal glass, and go through the bread well. Also, when I am done I can have a glass of wine while I chop seeing as the mushrooms take some time unless you have much better knife skills than I do. First, spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray (or grease it with butter or margarine). To form the tart shells you just press the rounds flat with your fingers and then press them into the pan. Bake at 400F/200C for 10 minutes. They will be nice and golden and hold their shape when removed. You can freeze these on their own if that is enough work for you in a day and put any filling in them that you like later.
For the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan or electric skillet. You need enough room to be able to stir the mushrooms before they reduce in size. Add the shallots and cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes until transparent. Add the mushrooms and cook until the moisture they release has mostly evaporated. Remove the pan from heat and dust the mixture with flour evenly so that you don't end up with little flour lumps, then mix it in. Stir in the cream, and put it back on the heat to simmer until thickened. Add in the remaining flavoring ingredients. Do taste it before you are done, as adding more flavoring to suit your taste is nice and easy. I like to kick up the cayenne pepper if I want to take it from a creamy tart to a spicy, creamy tart.
Let the filling cool so that it doesn't make your shells soggy, and then fill them and top them with a sprinkle of parmesan. At this point you can either pop them into a container and throw them in the freezer (put a layer of wax paper in between if you are stacking them), or throw them in the oven at 350F/180C for 10 minutes. If you are taking them out of the freezer they may need more like 12 minutes. If I have left over filling, I pop it in the fridge and then spread it on toast and put it under the broiler for a minute the next day as lunch.