Sometimes I like to pretend to be fancy. In fact, I do this a lot, often by hosting or attending extremely casual dinner parties. This is my go-to recipe for those times.
ingredients (serves 14 as an appetizer):
6-8 portobello mushrooms
2 red peppers
1 large red onion
1 tsp. dried rosemary (if fresh, add at the end)
2 tbsp. red wine
salt & black pepper to taste
12 oz. goat cheese, plain
Start by heating olive oil in a large pan, and halving the onion. Score it width and lengthwise, then make perpendicular cuts to create small dice, as shown below.
Add the onion to the pan, along with the rosemary and some black pepper, but DO NOT SALT (It is very important when cooking with mushrooms that you do not salt the pan before the mushrooms have been added. If they are salted too early on, they give off all of their moisture and become spongy. It’s best to wait until they have cooked down a bit).
To cut up the pepper, first use your knife to cut a circle around the stem, so that you can easily pluck it out. Then cut the pepper into quarters and remove the white membrane from inside. Think of it as a form of butchering!
Cut the quarters into strips about 1 centimeter thick. Once you have the strips, line them up and slice them, again on the perpendicular and into ~1cm squares. Have a look:
Add the peppers to the pan with the onions and stir well. Let them cook for a few minutes while you chop up the mushrooms.
You want the red pepper and mushroom pieces to be relatively the same size, so cut them using the same method as we used for the peppers: slice into strips, then again, on the perpendicular, into small chunks.
Before you add the mushrooms, check to see that the onions and peppers have broken down enough so that the pan won’t be too crowded. They should look like this:
Now add the mushrooms to the pan along with more oil and black pepper, and stir well. Preheat the oven to 400°, while you’re at it. Let the mushrooms cook down until they become a dark brown, which should take at least 10 minutes, and stir every few minutes so that everything cooks evenly. After 10 minutes, or when your mushrooms have given off most of their liquid, add a good amount of salt and the red wine, stirring well, and letting everything reduce for another 10 minutes or so.
In the meantime, slice your baguette on the diagonal into slices about 1 cm thick and when the oven is hot, stick them in for 6 minutes. When they’re finished, take them out and let them cool, putting a generous hunk of goat cheese on each one so it can soften up a bit. By the time the crostini have cooled, the mushroom-redpepper mixture should be finished cooking, so you can spread the goat cheese onto the crostini and then add your topping. Serve right away, preferrably with some red wine (fancy!).