After a weekend in which I cooked nothing except hard-boiled eggs (which, incidentally, I forgot about and overcooked when I got too wrapped up in the book I was reading), I was eager to get back into the kitchen on Monday. I was even feeling a bit ambitious, and thought I’d attempt something different for our meatless dinner. I thought it would be fun to do a napoleon, with mushrooms and a creamy cheese between layers of puff pastry.
I have a pretty standard mushroom preparation that I have done for years, and which with small modifications I have used for saucing pasta, for topping polenta or crostini, and as an accompaniment to a good steak; I figured it would work here as well. I also knew that I wanted to use a robiola cheese in this dish; when I first moved to the city, my local pizza place was Bella Via in Long Island City, and they serve a fabulous pie with robiola and truffle oil. That combination worked so well I was pretty sure that the cheese would also work well with mushrooms. I tracked down a three-milk version (sheep/cow/goat) at Formaggio Essex.
I did not make my own pastry, but Fresh Direct’s butter-rich version worked just fine – it was light and flaky and really delicious. I cut the pastry in half, which gave me two big squares, and baked it according to the package directions. While it was cooking and then cooling, I prepared the mushrooms.
1 cup dried porcini or cepes
1 cup hot water
2 tbsp. each butter and olive oil
1 cup diced shallot
1/2 lb. assorted fresh mushrooms (I used half oyster mushrooms and half sliced shiitake caps)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tbsp. heavy cream
Soak dried mushrooms in the hot water until they are soft. Remove the softened mushrooms from the liquid and gently squeeze them out. Roughly chop them and set aside. Reserve the mushroom soaking liquid.
Combine butter and olive oil in a skillet and heat until the butter is melted. Add shallot and a pinch of salt and cook until softened and translucent. Add the mushrooms you have soaked and stir well to coat them with the butter and oil. Cook for two minutes, add the fresh mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Allow the mushrooms to cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the wine and half of the mushroom soaking liquid (discard the rest as it is usually a little gritty). Cook until nearly all of the liquid has reduced. Stir in half of the fresh herbs and the cream and remove from heat. Garnish with the remaining herbs.
To assemble the napoleons, I pulled each cooked square of pastry apart into three even layers, and crumbled a bit of robiola between each. I reassembled them and placed them into a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes to warm the cheese. I removed the pastry squares and placed them onto plates (on a bed of baby greens), and I spooned some of the mushroom mixture over each. I garnished them with additional fresh herbs and a little more crumbled robiola.
Wine Pairing: Lieb Family Cellars Bridge Lane Merlot had some wonderful peppery notes and rich fruit that went really nicely with this dish.