Sometimes I feel left out. It seems I’m the only person on earth who doesn’t like mushrooms. I can handle them if they’re finely chopped and spread throughout a dish, so really it’s mostly a texture thing – I actually like the flavour! So I tried to invent an appetizer for my friends’ get together that balanced their love for mushrooms and my intense dislike of the texture. I settled on making a hybrid – the filling taken from my boyfriend’s aunt’s pinwheels, and my own phyllo wrapping that would add a crunch to the mushroom mix. Here’s what I came up with:
Thaw a box of prepared phyllo – either in the fridge overnight, or put it on the counter while preparing the filling. Finely chop a small onion and sautee until translucent in a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil.
Note that I used our wok. Big mistake. While washing off the cream cheese (which is added later in the recipe), I accidentally also washed off our hard-earned carbon steel seasoning. Choose wiser.
Finely chop about 1 lb of mushrooms. I tried to find exotic ones, but to be honest the selection at the local Sobey’s left a lot to be desired. I settled on half cremini (already sliced) and half oyster.
I minced them all – the pieces were about the size of half a dime. (It filled 2 bowlfuls)
Add another tablespoon of butter and splash of olive oil, then add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms sautee, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms start to release some of their liquid.
Now it’s time to season. I started basic but tweaked it, tasting along the way until I had racked up a long list of ingredients. Feel free to vary these as you see fit. My seasonings included: a bay leaf (don’t forget to take this out later!), 1/4 of a vegetable stock cube, a couple drops worcestershire sauce (omit this for vegetarians!), 1/2 a teaspoon of dijon, a tiny squirt of sriracha, a few good grinds of pepper, 1/2 a teaspoon of rosemary, and a small squirt of lemon juice. I was looking for the right balance of “umami” with a little bit of… something! I usually add garlic to everything – but I don’t remember adding any here. I’m sure it would taste good, too. Continue cooking until the mushrooms have released all their liquid, and the flavours meld.
Turn off the heat and stir in 1 block of cream cheese – it helps if you add about 1/8 of the block at a time. Set the cheesy mushroom filling aside to cool.
Clear a large work surface for working with the phyllo. Unwrap the thawed dough, unroll, and lay flat. Cover the stack of phyllo sheets with a damp tea towel when not in use, to stop them from drying out. In a small bowl, microwave half a stick of butter with 1 clove of garlic, until melted.
Lay down one sheet of phyllo, brush it with butter, and lay another directly on top of that one. Sandwiching the layers with butter in-between makes for flakier rolls! Using a pizza cutter, divide your sheet into 4 equal columns. at the base of each, pile a heaping tablespoon of your mushroom filling.
Fold up bottom edge of each column, so that filling is enveloped. (Please excuse the shadow from the lens, apparently I can’t lean in that close…)
Brush butter up left and right sides of your columns (this will act like glue). Fold in the sides.
Brush the unfilled pastry with a tad more butter (I swear, it’s glue, I’m not just trying to fatten up my friends!) Roll up to form a springroll-like shape. Repeat, preferably while watching some TV. I tucked these in a tupperware, refrigerated them, and took them to the party the next day, ready to bake.
At the party, the hostess Lys whipped up a little eggwash with 1 egg and a splash of water, beaten until smooth. She laid out my prepared rolls on a lined cookie sheet, and I followed behind, brushing egg wash on each. We then baked these at 350F for about 10 minutes to thoroughly warm the filling. After, we turned on the broiler and pulled out the rolls once they were golden (careful, this happens quickly!)
I had a couple sheets of phyllo left over so I improvised another flavour – simple tomato salad with goat cheese. These weren’t as flaky due to the moisture in the tomatoes, but the flavours still worked really well.
The rolls turned out really well – here’s what they looked like baked (without the shiny eggwash, because I didn’t have eggs on hand!). Tomato on the left, mushroom on the right.
And of course, their gooey insides.
Overall, these were awesome finger food. I even liked them, despite my dislike of mushrooms. The best part was that I got to watch fellow mushroom-haters return for seconds… success!