Showing posts with label parsley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parsley. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Case of the Cursed Champignons

Bad luck? A curse? You decide...

When we last left our heroine, she had recently enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a Chicago hot spot and returned home determined to recreate the amazing appetizers in her own kitchen. She blogged about the dining experience, asked for recipe input from all of you, and set out on a weekend shopping trip to purchase ingredients for Voul-au-vent des Champignons. Mmm…mushrooms, puff pastry, cognac…

Saturday afternoon she was ready to start cooking when….

Dum, dum, dum…(dramatic music)

Her oven stopped working! The appliance repair guy wasn’t available until Monday—far too late for our heroine to lovingly prepare, photograph, and blog about the dish she’d envisioned without feeling terribly rushed.

What will our heroine do? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, a word from our sponsor:
Congratulations to Ellen, last week’s winner. Our next lucky reader and winner of a $25 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma will be announced this week, right here, on this
Mystery Lover’s Kitchen station…


Sorry, I couldn’t resist the dramatic intro ;-) but that was how the weekend unfolded for me. I spent Saturday morning at my local Farmers’ Market picking out fresh mushrooms, parsley and shallots, planning to make and serve my mushroom appetizer that evening. Fortunately (?) I had something else to heat up first, and that’s when I discovered my oven malfunction.

Oh no! What to do?

Improvise, of course.

I decided that I could probably still make the appetizer but eliminate the puff pastry. I headed back out, this time to the grocery store (the Farmers’ Market was closed by then), to find an acceptable substitute. Unfortunately much of the fresh bakery was picked over, but I came home with six mini croissants. About as close to puff pastry as I could get at that point.

The recipe

Many thanks to Avery/Daryl whose Facebook friend Patricia Winton provided a basic plan of attack. I changed things up a bit. Patricia’s recipe called for Tabasco, but Cognac (based on all your suggestions) seemed like a better choice.

4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 ½ cups fresh mushrooms.
2 tablespoons flour (all purpose)
1 cup heavy cream or a mixture of cream
Salt to taste
Dash of Cognac
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
(I didn’t have fresh thyme, but I did have a little container of dried thyme Krista Davis gave me when she signed THE DIVA RUNS OUT OF THYME for me. Came in handy!)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste (oops, I skipped this step!)

Melt the butter over moderate flame
Sir in the shallots and cook for about a minute.
Add the mushrooms and cook until softened.
Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute until the raw taste has gone.
Slowly stir in the cream
Cook until thick.
Add salt, Cognac, parsley, thyme and lemon juice. Stir

As I mentioned, I served this mixture over sliced (and microwave-warmed) croissants and served them to the family (those of us home this week). The verdict: Mixed.

We all loved the mushroom mixture and Curt and I decided it was pretty darned close to the taste of the appetizer from Marche. But we all agreed that the croissant base left a *lot* to be desired. Just looking at it reminded Curt of chipped beef on toast—not very appetizing. Had it been baked in puff pastry, I think the appetizer would have been much more successful.
Because I only used two croissants, and I had mixture left over, we used it as a side for another meal over the weekend. This makes an awesome sauce.
A couple of changes for next time:
I would use a little extra butter
I think 2 tablespoons of flour was too much. The mixture was just a tiny bit too thick. Maybe just 1 tablespoon of flour next time.
I used baby portabello mushrooms. They were great, but I’m eager to try this again with different varieties.


The curse continues! When I inserted my camera's memory card into my computer to transfer these pictures, I was standing up instead of sitting down. Shouldn't have made a difference, right? But I was in a hurry and not being careful. I accidentally inserted the memory card into the wrong slot. It slid it too far, too fast. I couldn't get it out. Poking a pencil into my computer didn't seem like a good idea, but I tried anyway. No luck - I just pushed the memory card further in. Then I had a brainstorm - tweezers! I hear you gasping. Don't worry - I shut the computer down first and I cut all power. I realized there might still be a charge left inside, so I did tread carefully, using a rubber jar opener to hold the metal tweezers. Are you picturing this? LOL

I finally got the memory card unstuck enough to be able to tilt my computer tower forward and gently shake it out. Seriously. I swear this project is cursed!!

I hope you try anyway and have better luck than I did! Let me know how your versions turn out.


Julie's White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime. Sign up for Julie’s newsletter on her website at

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