Mushroom 'caviar'

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a brilliantly wine-friendly spread called ‘mushroom caviar’ I’d tasted at our favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Well, I’ve now cracked the recipe and here it is:

Culinaria’s mushroom caviar
Enough to top 18-24 crostini bases2 shallots or 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp sunflower oil
350g button mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
200g tub of creme fraiche
2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon leaves
Salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juicePut the onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Heat the oil over a low heat in a medium to large heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan and cook the onion and garlic gently until starting to soften (about 5-6 minutes) Chop the mushrooms very finely in the food processor and tip into the pan with the onions. Stir and cook over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until the mushrooms have the consistency of a thick paste. Take off the heat, stir in the crme frache and return to the pan until the mixture has thickened again (about another 15 minutes). Stir in the chopped tarragon and season to taste with salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Tip into a bowl and cool. If storing in the fridge trickle over a tablespoon or so of olive oil to stop the surface from discolouring and bring to room temperature before using. Spread on crostini bases (below) or toastRecommended wine match: A perfect match for champagne or a good sparkling wine or for a good Chardonnay. It would also be great with Pinot Noir.

For the crostini
It’s worth making a large batch of these as they keep well
Makes about 30-32 slices2 ready to bake ciabatta loaves
Olive oil spray or 4-6 tbsp light olive oil
You also need 2 baking traysPre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cut the ciabatta on the slant into fairly thin slices. Spray both sides with olive oil or pour the olive oil on the baking trays and dip the slices of ciabatta in it. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the slices half way through. Repeat with any remaining ciabatta slices. Cool then store the crostini in an airtight tin.

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