This is the first of my Food for Romance Cookalong recipes. When the theme for this month's cookalong was announced, this was the first thing to pop into my head as a starter. It's a modification of a recipe for mushroom bruschetta taken from the Green River Cafe Cookbook and is one of my favourite starters to serve for guests, mainly because it is so easy to put together.
It's also very easy to make a vegetarian version of and I think that replacing the Serrano ham with haloumi cheese would make for a great dish.
I didn't have time to get a mix of wild mushrooms on the Friday, so I used the Champagne variety that was available in my local supermarket. These worked just as well but I think you get a nicer flavour from using a mixture of different wild mushrooms, which are usually available in shops such as Fallon & Byrne.
Before getting started pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Trim the Portobello mushrooms and remove the stems. Hold onto the stems for use later but throw out the rest of the trimmings.
Place the mushrooms onto a baking tray. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to each mushroom and rub it in.
Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to each mushroom, lightly season and put into the oven for 15 mins.
While the Portobello mushrooms are cooking, prepare the wild mushrooms which will be places on top.
Tear or roughly chop up the wild mushrooms, I find the softer varieties are easier to divide by tearing rather than using a knife. Finely chop up the Portobello stems and place with the mushroom mix (you don't have to do this but why waste them?). Finally crush the garlic.
Heat the frying pan and add a knob of butter (about 20g) and about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. When the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and cook for 2 mins, stirring regularly.
Add the garlic and cook the mushrooms for another 2 - 5mins until they are just starting to brown. Once this has happened turn off the heat.
Your mushrooms turning brown in the pan should coincide with the Portobello's coming out of the oven. Place the Portobello's on plates and divide the wild mushroom mix between the two.
Heap any fallen wild mushrooms back on top of the Portobello's and give the plate a little wipe down (presentation is important when wooing). Drape the mushrooms with a slice of Serrano ham. If you can't get Serrano ham, Parma ham works just as well.
Serve immediately while still hot.