Side Dish: Mushroom appetizer via Arnaud’s

During Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, I attended an outstanding cocktail party hosted by Hennessy cognac at Arnaud’s Restaurant. The cocktails by a group of talented mixologists from across the country were innovative and excellent.

For example, Christian Sanders, of Evelyn Drinkery in New York City, offered Satchmo’s Tea, which included Earl Grey tea-infused Hennessey V.S, and Andrew Mauer, of Soul Gastrolounge in Charlotte, North Carolina, offered a Hennessy Black cocktail that muddled Bosc pear with a fennel-honey syrup.

But, what seemed like an unending stream of terrific appetizers from Arnaud’s kitchen really got my attention. Among them was sautéed mushrooms served on toast points. This, I decided, was an impressive dish that a home cook could easily make — perfect for football game-watching parties or get-togethers during the upcoming holidays.

The next day I returned to Arnaud’s where a waiter kindly went into the kitchen and got the recipe from Chef de Cuisine Tommy DiGiovanni. However, that handwritten recipe doesn‘t include any quantities. So, sometime later I contacted the restaurant and requested the ingredient quantities for the “mushroom appetizer” served at the Tales of the Cocktail event. I was sent a recipe for Mushrooms Véronique, which, indeed, is an appetizer on the restaurant’s menu, but not what I had tasted. It seems I should have requested the recipe for the “vegetable” dish Sautéed Wild Mushrooms.

When I finally get that recipe, I’ll share it. In the meantime, try Mushrooms Véronique. Your party guests are sure to like them, too.

Mushrooms Véronique

Makes 60 appetizers or “bites.” Recipe is from Arnaud’s Restaurant, New Orleans.

60 white button or cream mushrooms, about 1 inch in diameter, stems removed

60 white seedless grapes, washed

15 ozs. Boursin au Poivre cheese, at room temperature

1 cup clarified butter, warm

2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line 1 large or 2 smaller baking sheets with parchment.

2. Brush the mushrooms gently with a soft brush or paper towels to clean. In a large vegetable steamer set over simmering water (or a bamboo steamer set over a wok), steam the mushrooms rounded side up for 3 minutes, to rid them of excess water. Cool.

3. Place the mushrooms rounded side down on a work surface and place 1 grape in the hollow of each cap. Scoop up about 11/2 teaspoons of the boursin, and mound it over each mushroom cap, smoothing and completely enclosing the grape. Continue stuffing the remaining mushrooms.

4. Place the Parmesan in a shallow bowl. With tongs, carefully dip each stuffed mushroom into the warm clarified butter, and then dredge gently in the Parmesan. Gently shake off any excess and reserve the remaining Parmesan for another use.

5. Place the stuffed mushroom caps on the paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve at once.