Mushroom Mousse Appetizer
by Sarah A. Maine
This is a marathon cooking week! Between cooking for RecipeRelay, cooking to keep myself alive and getting ready to host my family for Christmas dinner it has been all-cooking-all-the-time here for the past few days. It’s going to continue in this fashion for a few more days, after which I may just collapse in a pile on the floor until the new year. I’ve been having a great time though and learning a lot of new things in the process.
As we mentioned in our “Very Mushroomy Christmas” message, this week Brianna and I are doubling up – bringing you twice the usual number of recipes in half the time! Taking the mushrooms from Brianna’s Mushroom Miso soup, we both used the Joy of Cooking’s Mushroom Mousse as a launchpad for two mousse-y holiday recipes.
I have to admit, when I started thinking about how to adapt this recipe I was a little stumped – I’d never made a mousse before and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I also felt a heavy 1950’s aura around this recipe. I wanted to find a way to jettison the jello-salad sensibility of the Joy of Cooking recipe and bring it into the 21st century. After doing some internet research on mousse I opted to change the form of the dish from a ring mold (I don’t own one) to individual ramekins. I also decided to bring in some subtle onion flavor by adding leek to the dish and I changed the spice from paprika to cloves. Holidays here we come!
The prep for this recipe involves chopping things into small bits, beating liquids into puffy clouds, then carefully folding everything together to make an airy batter that is baked in the oven. I used portobello mushrooms from Madura Farms in Orange County, NY and a lone leek leftover from my CSA. The CSA season is over so I’m down to foraging at the farmer’s market and using organic produce from grocery stores. I switched to a new egg vendor at the market and have been very pleased with the results – Millport Dairy’s eggs have delicious and impossibly orange yolks that surprise me every time I crack one open. I can’t get milk or cream at my local farmer’s market but I was determined to use organic whipping cream for this dish. I had to go to three stores in my neighborhood before I finally found Organic Valley whipping cream and cultured butter to round out my ingredients. There are certain things I will buy that aren’t organic but dairy is not one of them. Organic Valley, although not strictly local, is a great network of family owned organic dairy farms, their products are consistently delicious and available even in small delis in my neighborhood. As a final touch I used Stony Brook Finger Lakes Delicata Squash Seed Oil to drizzle on top, bringing a delicate nutty finish to the dish.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
- 3 large portobello mushroom caps
- 1 leek
- 2 Tbs butter
- 2 Tbs all purpose flour
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup whipped or sour cream
- drizzle of squash seed oil (or substitute your favorite infused oil)
- Coarsely chop the three mushroom caps and set aside. Slice and clean the leek.
- Place the mushrooms and leek in a food processor and chop until fine (I did this separately but you can put them altogether in the food processor to make it go quicker.)
- Melt 2 Tbs of butter in a skillet. Add the 2 Tbs of flour and brown it slightly (I browned it until it just started to bubble).
- Add the finely chopped mushrooms and leek to the pan, mix it thoroughly with the butter and sautée for 2-3 minutes. Allow the mushroom leek mixture to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- While the oven is heating separate your eggs – you will need 4 eggs total. Place 4 yolks in a bowl and the white of 2 eggs in another. Save the 2 extra white to make eggnog, an egg white omelet or just discard them.
- Beat the egg yolks and add them to the mushrooms along with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 cloves, mix well.
- In another bowl, beat the whipping cream until it is stiff.
- Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry (they should be a little shiny and form nice little peaks).
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the mushroom mixture.
- Just as gently, fold the egg whites into the mixture.
- Butter 6 individual ramekins (soufflé cups) and fill each to about 2/3 full with mousse batter.
- Place the ramekins in a baking dish filled with about an inch of water. Bake at 375ºF for 35 minutes.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven, take the ramekins out of the water and set them aside allowing them to cool. The top of each mousse will deflate a little bit – don’t worry. Just let them cool thoroughly. Then use a knife to make sure each mousse is separated from the side of the ramekin. Invert each mousse onto a salad plate. Top with a dollop of whipped cream or sour cream, drizzle with squash seed oil.
- Serve with a side salad and try not to eat it too fast!!
I felt a lot of uncertainty while waiting for the mousse to come out of the oven, I wasn’t sure if it would work. I have a feeling that making mousses and soufflés will always be nerve-wracking. I got lucky on this one, I followed the steps and it did pretty much what it was supposed to. I was surprised by how little my mousse rose and I worried what that would mean for the texture. It turned out that the height of the finished product wasn’t that important. My mini-mousses were compact in stature but they were light and airy on the tongue, a cloud of lightly spiced mushroom leek flavor. I think this is by far the most grown up looking dish I have ever made.
See you in 2011 for more RecipeRelay fun,