I used to pity plain old white button mushrooms. They're always shelved at the bottom of the display, while the larger, fancier mushrooms enjoy the perks of eye-level. Unlike their once-a-year, foraging-prize counterparts, they’re taken for granted. They’ll be there, waiting for us. Always.
Without exotic furls or eye-catching, bouquet-like clusters, it’s hard to believe anyone notices them. While other varieties have more enticing names and intriguing shapes, it turns out the simple, understated white button is the best selling variety in Canada.
Why do they land in our shopping cart more than all other varieties combined? If you think about it, they’re the botanical equivalent of the ideal employee. They’re never absent, get the job done, and in the process, work well with others. You won’t find a white button hanging around the water cooler grumbling about management or daydreaming.
These hand pies demonstrate the hardworking charm of the white button. While there’s no doubt who’s in charge, they give the chèvre equal time and let the lemon get in the odd word or two. Thanks to the rich, puff pastry crust, they’re also easy to accommodate. No need for added dips, sauces or toppings. Just pass them around with a napkin. Or two.
Mushroom and Chèvre Hand Pies
Whether you serve them as an appetizer or to round out a soup-and-salad meal, hand pies always hit the spot. The only trick is to serve them hot. Should they need reheating, don’t microwave them. That will heat the filling but make the pastry soggy. Instead, pop them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes, They’ll emerge hot, fragrant, and fully revived.
Prep Time: 45 minutes plus chilling
Cook Time: 15 minutes per sheet
Makes about 40 hand pies.
1 pound white button mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 300-gram package chèvre, room temperature
1 large egg
2 teaspoons milk
2 450-gram packages frozen puff pastry, thawed
Quarter the mushrooms. In a food processor fitted with a blade or a blender, chop the mushrooms in batches until they resemble couscous.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, salt and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and lemon zest, and cook until the mushrooms are soft. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the chèvre with the lemon juice until smooth. Add the mushroom mixture and combine until well blended. Cover and chill for an hour until set. This can be done the day before.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking pans with parchment.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together until smooth to make the egg wash. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to 1/8-inch thick. Using a tart cutter or empty 28-ounce (796 mL) can, cut 4-inch circles. You should get 10 per sheet.
Brush the edge of each circle with egg wash. Place 1 tablespoon of mushroom mixture in the centre, fold in half to form a half-moon, and pinch the edges shut. With the tines of a fork, crimp the edges, then poke vents in the top. Place the hand pie on the parchment lined pan and brush top with more egg wash. Repeat with remaining pastry sheets and filling.
Bake one sheet at a time for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Note: This recipe can be halved. However, if you want to have lots on hand for guests, you can make them ahead of time. Just prepare the recipe to the point of the final egg wash. Freeze the unbaked pies on a baking sheet until firm (about 30 to 60 minutes), then transfer to a plastic freezer bag. When ready to bake, let the hand pies warm at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Frozen unbaked hand pies will keep for up to 3 months.
With the holiday season approaching quickly, it's great to have appetizers on hand for when company arrives! Thanks Charmian for being our guest and for sharing yet another way for white button mushrooms to shine!!
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