Brunch, lunch or party finger food, puff pastry is your friend. Its rich, “1000” leaves of butter laminated dough make anything you encase within it shine. Like mushrooms in a béchamel sauce for example.
Puff pastry is the perfect foil for lots of ingredients. Today I offer mushrooms because they hold up well at room temperature for several hours. It’s a great choice for a buffet table or passed appetizers.
Don’t let the word “béchamel” scare you. It’s just a fancy word for heated butter, flour, milk and cheese. I know you can heat and stir or you would not be reading this blog. That’s all it is, heating and stirring… your way to pure deliciousness!
“OK, Greg, if it’s so easy then why did you label this recipe as ‘intermediate,’ and not ‘easy’?” Well, dear reader, because there are three separate parts to it. All easy, but still three parts. 1. The sautéed mushrooms. 2. The béchamel sauce, and 3. The puff pastry assembly. Each easy in their own right, but the assembly needs some focused attention.
I believe in you. You can do it!
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Mushrooms Nestled in Puff Pastry
- 1 pound (16 ounces) mushrooms (cremini, button or baby portabellas), cleaned, de-stemmed, and sliced to ¼ inch pieces
- 1 cup small diced white or yellow onion (about 1/2 a large onion)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher (not table) salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 package puff pastry sheets (two sheets) *
- 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon of water (for egg wash)
- Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Sauté onions until translucent
- Add cleaned and sliced mushrooms, thyme sprigs, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Reduce heat to medium and sauté until mushrooms are fully cooked and wilted, and the liquid has evaporated. (If you want to speed up the process, cover the pan for first five minutes) This will take about 15 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs
- In a small sauce pan, heat milk to a simmer (it’s ready when you see bubbles around the edge of pan). Or Microwave, if you prefer, for 2 minutes
- While mushrooms are cooking, in a separate sauce pan, over medium heat, melt butter. Once fully melted, add the flour and stir or whisk vigorously until the flour is fully incorporated into the butter. Cook for approximately 1 minute
- Add the heated milk and nutmeg to the sauce pan with the butter and flour. Stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Once it comes to a soft boil, boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the Parmesan
- Note: This is an extra thick béchamel sauce. (As a rule of thumb, a classic béchamel is a ratio of 1 1/2 tablespoons each of flour and butter per cup of milk.)
- Place rack in the upper third of your oven. Preheat oven to 400F (204C)
- Add the béchamel sauce to the mushrooms. Simmer until further thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool completely. About 30 minutes. (Do not add warm or hot mushroom mixture to the puff pastry – it will soften the puff pastry and melt the butter within the dough, making it difficult to work with)
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Quickly and gently roll a sheet of puff pastry to 12 X 12 inches. Repeat with the other sheet, but roll slightly larger.
- Transfer the smaller puff pastry sheet to a parchment lined baking sheet
- Place the cooled mushroom mixture on the smaller sheet of puff pastry, leaving a 1/2 in (2 cm) margin around the perimeter
- Brush the perimeter of the puff pastry sheet with water, and then place the other sheet of puff pastry on top of the mushroom puff pastry layer. With your fingers, press down on the perimeter to seal the edges. To further ensure that it is sealed, crimp all the edges with a fork
- Beat an egg and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl. This is your egg wash. Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash, and cut a few slices on top of the puff pastry to allow steam to escape during and after baking
- Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown
- Let cool to warm or room temperature on a cooling rack (to avoid a soggy bottom). Cut into bite sized pieces for appetizers, or into six larger pieces to serve as lunch or brunch
* It’s perfectly acceptable to use pre-made, frozen puff pastry. Be sure to thaw it in your refrigerator overnight. If you prefer to make your own puff pastry, here’s a good source.