Overcoming Foodie’s Block

So I’ve been struggling for a few weeks now about what the heck to make for a potluck we’re going to tonight. Having worked as a baker for many years, I typically whip up some yummy baked goods, but I wanted this to be different. Potlucks always seem to have so many desserts, I wanted to make something else. Stumped. I was completely stumped. What was everyone else bringing? What did we NEED? Inspiration eluded me.

We had dinner with a friend last week and he gave us a bottle of wine, a 2009 DeLoach Sonoma County Chardonnay Vinthropic Cuvee.

When it comes to wine, I like white wine, but I will almost always go for red. So this posed a fun challenge for me. What the heck could I make to pair with this wine?  I Googled it. This is what DeLoach recommends:  “a perfect complement to alfresco dining, and pairs well with creamy risotto with shitake mushrooms or a freshly tossed Caesar salad with grilled prawns” ( http://www.boissetfamilyestates.com/products/ProductDetails.aspx?PrdId=767)

I went around and around with this, but kept coming back to mushrooms. Risotto would be fabulous, but it wouldn’t transport well and it’s not like I could make it there.

OK. Risotto’s out.

Caesar Salad … that’s a possibility … but I’d like to take something warm.

Mushrooms. What can I do with mushrooms? Potluck … finger food … stuffed mushrooms? Nah. Skewers? Nah … that would take waay to long on my George Foreman.

What about quiche? Frittata? Tartlets?

Hmm … tartlets. In search of a recipe, I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but one that sounded really good:  Hot Mushroom, Toasted Walnut, and Camembert Filo Tartlets (http://www.food52.com/recipes/11179_hot_mushroom_toasted_walnut_and_camembert_filo_tartlets).
This was my inspiration.

Mushroom, Walnut, and Smoked Gouda Tartlets

So, with this in mind, I set out shopping. I picked up some mini filo shells, baby bella mushrooms, fresh thyme, garlic and shallots. While I was shopping, I came upon a sample of a fantastic smoked gouda cheese and thought that would be amazing in the tarlets.

Here is my version of the tartlets …

1/2 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds baby bella mushrooms (cremini)
1/2 cup white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)
salt & pepper to taste

45 mini filo shells
7 ounces smoked gouda, cut into small cubes or shredded

Chop mushrooms into small pieces (~ 1/8-inch dice) and set aside.
Strip thyme leaves from stems and set aside.
Saute garlic & shallots in olive oil and butter. Be careful to not burn.
Add mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid has reduced. Add wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remember the cheese will add some salt, too, so depending on the cheese you use, you’ll want to adjust the salt accordingly.
This can be prepared up to a day ahead.

When it’s time to assemble, preheat oven to 350-degrees (F).

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and line up the filo shells.Place a small amount of cheese (2-3 small cubes, depending on size) in the shell. Bake about 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven and top off the tarts with a spoonful of mushroom mixture. If you’ve prepared the mushroom mixture ahead of time and refrigerated it, you’ll want to heat it up a bit before assembling the tarts.
Top the filled tartlet with some additional cheese.
Bake about  5 more minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted.
Garnish with additional thyme, and/or chives.



Expect to have some filling leftover. I suspect it will make a lovely omelet or frittata, savory pizza or focaccia topping, or filling for thinly prepared chicken, pork, beef rolled up. Or, even stir fried with some brown rice, or with hearty grain like barley. I will have to experiment with this.

Oh, I also made these …

Blackberry Mascarpone Tarlets

Caramel Nut Chocolate Tartlets

I’ll post those recipes soon.

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