Mushrooms on toast is a noble and ancient English nursery tea. When I was tiny, I read Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit and loved it dearly; Little Grey Rabbit would peel the pinky-beige satin skins off field mushrooms and stroke them before cooking them on her stove. In love with the bunny, I developed a fascination with mushrooms.
I’m grown up now. I can’t eat mushrooms on toast without being all post-ironic about it. In this form, though, kiddies’ mushrooms on toast becomes elevated to a dinner party amuse bouche; a gorgeous, silky, creamy, rich cloud of mushrooms on crisp slices of grilled ciabatta.
I still eat it for tea. What the hell; I’m posh.
To serve three for a grown-up nursery supper, you’ll need:
1 large knob of butter
1 punnet small chestnut mushrooms, sliced thin
1 punnet shitake mushrooms, sliced thin
4 shallots, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful (palmful, really) dried porcini mushrooms, soaked
A glug of Marsala
1/4 pint cream
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large handful chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Melt the butter over a medium heat in a non-stick pan until it’s bubbling gently, and turn the fresh mushrooms, shallots and garlic into it. Saute, stirring frequently, until they soften and give up their juices. Add the soaked porcini, and continue to saute until all the juices have evaporated.
Add the Marsala (about a shot-glass full) and simmer until it’s all evaporated and the alcohol has burned off. Add the cream, cayenne pepper and mustard, and stir in the lemon juice, tasting all the time (you might want to use more or less than half a lemon). Simmer until the mixture bubbles and thickens, stir in the parsley off the heat, and season to taste.
While you cook the mushrooms, slice a ciabatta diagonally into ten, and toast the slices until crisp. Pile the mushrooms on the ciabatta slices, and serve immediately. Little Grey Rabbit was missing a trick.