Saturday, January 2, 2010


OK, time to revive this poor, neglected blog.

Fortunately, I have taken much better care of Baby Bobby than this blog, though he's been sitting in the fridge these past two weeks while I try to get over the plague of 2009. A little cold turned into a whopper of an asthma flare up and I have not been in much shape for major baking. Here's hoping the New Year will bring me some better lungs.

I did manage to do a little baking on NY Eve day, thanks to AB in 5. I wanted to contribute to our annual "hors d'oeuvre" dinner. We're quiet old fogies with school age kids, so our big whoop for NY's is just to have an hors d'oeuvre dinner and sparkling ciders, wait until midnight, kiss and go to bed. Nothing like the wild NY Eve bashes my parents attended when I was the age of my kids, but safe, sane, and spent with our favorite people on earth.

Usually our hors d'oeuvres come from the frozen section of Trader Joe's (they have these cheese tarts that are to die for, but they were out of them--boo hoo!). But I was inspired to make a mushroom "strudel" to add to our feast.

Whole Foods sells mushroom strudel around the holidays in their deli section. It is an incredibly buttery soft dough wrapped around a savory mushroom filling and I love it. But, it costs almost $10 a pound! I treated myself to a small little slice the other day, and my purchase was almost $2 and not enough to satisfy since it was SO good.

So I set about making my own. It's not exactly the same, but delicious all the same and an acceptable substitute. Even better, the entire thing cost less than that single slice from Whole Foods.

Sorry I did not take pictures--there just wasn't enough energy for anything extra--I was wiped when the deed was done, but I did feel pretty good about accomplishing something for the first time in several days. Here's how I made it:

I made a 1/3 batch of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day's Brioche Dough. Sorry, I respect their copyright so I will not post the recipe here. You may be able to find it elsewhere on the web, or purchase the book or check it out from the library. Or you can use your own favorite brioche dough which will work fine, but I guarantee will not be as easy.

Since I was reducing the batch of dough, I made one simple change. The original recipe calls for 8 eggs (While this sounds like a lot, this amount will make at least 4 one pound loaves and the dough can be stored and used during the course of a full week). It's difficult, of course, to divide 8 eggs by three, although it can be done. But to reduce the wetness of the dough just a little for ease in handling, I added only 2 eggs to my 1/3 batch. This worked out great. The small amount of egg wasn't missed at all, and the dough handled like a dream.

The beauty of AB in 5 doughs is that you can really, truly, whip up the dough in around 5 minutes. It's a one bowl operation, and there is NO kneading. Just whisk all the ingredients together, and time does the rest of the work. So in the morning (fairly late in the morning as it was) I made my batch and sat it on the counter for it's two hour rest. Then I went to take a two hour rest as well ;o). This was followed by about 2 hours in the fridge. If you are going to roll out this dough as I did, the refrigerator time is crucial to make the dough easy to handle. If you are going to do something else with the dough, I think it's OK to use as soon as the 2 hour counter rise is done.

Now for the filling:
1/3 cup of minced onion, scallion, or green onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 TBSP butter
1 8oz package of Mushrooms (sliced)
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 TBSP Cognac or dry sherry (or white wine)--Optional
1 TBSP flour
4 TBSP freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Saute the onion and garlic in the butter until just softened. Add the mushrooms and cook gently until the mushrooms have released their moisture and it has been partially evaporated. Season the mushrooms and add the cognac. Continue to cook gently until most of the cognac has evaporated. Add in the flour and cheese and mix well. Remove from the heat as the cheese melts and allow the mixture to cool.

Back to the dough:
Roll the dough out. My mistake was leaving it a bit too thick, it should be about 1/8" thick. I did not want a spiral roll (like a cinnamon roll). Instead, I wanted a nice layer of dough around a center of mushrooms. I left a double layer of dough under the mushrooms, and that proved to be too thick. Next time, a single layer all around.

Lay a line of mushrooms about 1" from the edge and roll the dough around it, cutting the dough off where the edge meets. Pinch the seams shut and lay, seam side down on a piece of parchment or silicone mat.

Turn the oven on to 350 and allow the roll to sit while the oven preheats. When the oven is at the right temp, brush the mushroom strudel with egg wash and bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown.

My teenager hates mushrooms, and when she heard I was making a strudel she begged for an apple strudel. I had enough dough left over that I decided to surprise her with an apple version as well.

For the apple filling:
1 apple, finely chopped
A few drops of lemon juice
Cinnamon Sugar to taste

I laid the apple mixture out the same way I had done the mushrooms. I dotted the apple mixture with little bits of butter, apple pie style. Then I rolled it up and gave it the same egg wash. I sprinkled the top with more cinnamon sugar, and baked it along with the mushroom strudel.

CAUTION: The juices from the apple did leak a bit.

I did not taste the apple strudel because I am the only American in the world who hates apples, but my family loved it.

The mushroom strudel was not exactly like the WF version, but very delicious just the same. I'll be making this again for special occasions (it will be a great "take along" for pot lucks). Best yet, it was SO easy that even a wheezing grump can make it.

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