During college, I avoided a ramen noodle-based diet by working nights at an Italian restaurant. I was a very clumsy waitress. One night I dripped scalding cream sauce on a man's bald head. But that's not what this post is about. As an employee, I received 50 percent off all meals (plus anything my friends the chefs would pass us "under the table"). One of my favorite dishes on the menu was a simple tomato-basil bruschetta. Like most Americans we pronounced it broo-SHEH-tah. In the last few years, though, I've heard people pronounce it broo-SKEH-tah. At first, I thought they were pronouncing it incorrectly. I had worked in an Italian restaurant, owned and operated by authentic Italians, why would they tell us to pronounce a dish incorrectly? It's not like we were calling the NYOH-kee, GAH-notch-ee. Turns out we kind of were. After digging around on the internets, it seems that Italians actually pronounce it broo-skeh-tah. Go figure, I'm always getting these things wrong. The thing is, I still like the American pronunciation better. But now every time I say bruschetta the American way, I look at the person I'm talking to, searching their face for a hint that they think I'm prouncing it incorrectly, which I suppose makes me more than a little crazy.
However you want to say it, this bread dish with wild mushrooms is delicious.
Wild Mushroom Bruschetta
Adapted from Chef Doug D’Avico
8 oz wild mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed of any fibrous ends
medium sized shallot, diced (original recipe called for an onion)
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tbs. olive oil
3 tbs. sweet masala (or dry white wine)
1/4 cup heavy cream (the original recipe called for 1 cup)
3 tbs. pecorino sardo (I substituted creamy feta)
2 tbs. fresh thyme
salt to taste
lemon to taste
8 pieces of crusty bread (I used four pieces of olive bread cut in half)
Pre-heat a 12” sauté pan over med high heat till hot. Add the cleaned mushrooms and tablespoon of the butter and cook till the mushrooms are soft and are starting to release their water. Cook for 3 minutes longer and then add the diced shallots.
Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, season with a little salt and pepper and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes over the med high heat and cook till the shallots start to caramelize. Do not burn.
You want to cook the mushrooms and shallots till the liquid is all most evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Marsala carefully as the alcohol will catch on fire when you return it to the stove.
Reduce the Marsala by 2/3 and then add the cream. Bring to a boil and reduce to a sauce consistency, about 2 to 3 minutes. Check the seasoning and remove from the heat keeping the sauce warm till ready to use.
Cut 8 pieces of bread from the baguette about 1/2 inch thick on a 45 degree bias.
Toss the bread with a little splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. You can toast the bread in a hot oven or grill for a couple of minutes to warm the bread.
Next smear some of the cheese on each piece of bread and sprinkle a few fresh thyme leaves on top.
Arrange 2 pieces of bread per plate and divide the mushroom sauce over the four plates. Drizzle a small amount of the olive oil over each plate and few thyme leaves and serve immediately.