I have cooked one dish more than any other, I'm quite sure: mushrooms with cream over toast. I cooked it at the Dahlia Lounge. I cooked it at Sitka and Spruce. I cooked it with morels in the spring and with chanterelles in the fall and with black trumpets in the winter and with crimini, maitake, oyster, whatever. The recipe was more or less the same. At Dahlia we toasted the bread with butter and reduced the cream with shallots and thyme beforehand. At Sitka we grilled the bread, cooked everything on the spot, and added an egg yolk. Now those restaurants are closed, one for good and the other—who knows.
Fortunately, mushroom toast is obscenely easy to make at home, and an excellent use of that nice loaf of rustic sourdough you bought three days ago, which is now rather dry and weird. This recipe is for one piece of toast. You can double, triple, or quadruple, but you’ll need to cook the mushrooms in batches so they caramelize—otherwise they tend to steam each other. No one wants that.
- a slice of good bakery bread, cut an inch thick
- 1 handful of mushrooms, whatever you can get, sliced about an eighth of an inch thick
- 3 ounces heavy cream
- half a medium sized shallot, very finely minced
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
- 3–5 sprigs of fresh thyme, picked
- neutral oil
- fino sherry
- sherry vinegar
- black pepper
- some green things: parsley, minced chives, arugula, watercress, etc.
- one egg yolk (optional)
- Heat a skillet over medium-low. Toss a piece of butter in the pan and let it melt. Add the slice of bread and move around the pan until it’s absorbed the butter. Toast until golden. Flip and repeat on the other side.
- Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add a little oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the mushrooms and spread them so they aren’t crowded in the same spot. Stir a few times until they’ve browned nicely and cooked down a bit (3–4 minutes). Lower the heat. With a spatula, nudge the mushrooms to the side of the pan. Add a little butter and cook the shallot, garlic, and thyme leaves, until the shallots take on a little color.
- Add a generous splash of fino sherry and a touch of vinegar (you don’t want it to be sour, just “bright”). Once 80 percent of the liquid has cooked off, add the cream. Cook for about a minute. The cream should still be liquid, just not runny. If it gets too thick, add a little water. Season with salt and pepper. Most of what makes this dish is having enough salt and that hint of vinegar. The cream should be saltier than a cream soup (since it’s going on that bread) but should not hurt your throat.
- Put the toast on a plate and pour the mushrooms and cream over. Finish with more black pepper, a raw egg yolk nestled in the center (if you’re feeling decadent), and your green things of choice.