This was a simple amuse that I came up with while in culinary school, and it has become an hors d’oeuvre that I still serve at dinner parties. Every week in one of our classes, we were each charged with conceptualizing an amuse bouche and would present it to our chef at the end of class. One requirement of the amuse was to use a technique or process we had learned while in school. I chose to use mushroom duxelles, which is a classic French method of cooking mushrooms. The mushrooms are minced and cooked with shallots, garlic and herbs to create an almost paste-like texture with a concentrated mushroom-y flavor. Typically lemon juice is used to flavor duxelles, but I used sherry instead to give the duxelles some acidity. The earthiness of the mushrooms, combined with the nutty toasted almond, sweet pear, and the tangy blue cheese complement each other well. When we put together the bite for Bite Sized, we wanted to keep as much of the organic shape of the pear as possible. We sliced the sides off of the pear and then scooped out a small hole in the fattest part of the pear slice using a melon baller. In the end, it also wound up looking like a sort of mini, edible spoon, which made it even easier to eat in one mouthful. The bite is simple but tasty and easy to put together, making it a regular fallback for me.
Ingredients (Makes 20)
Bosc pears, sliced 1/8 inch thick in whatever shape appeals to you
4 oz blue cheese, at room temperature
Mushroom duxelles (recipe below)
For the Duxelles:
20 medium sized cremini mushrooms, minced
3 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Sherry, to deglaze
2 tbsp olive oil
1 dried bay leaf
Small bunch thyme
- Start the duxelles – dice shallots and garlic, dice mushrooms. Meanwhile, allow blue cheese to come to room temperature.
- Sweat shallots and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned. Deglaze with sherry and reduce to au sec.
- Add mushrooms, bay and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper. Allow mushrooms to cook until liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Slice pears into desired shape. Slice almonds and toast in a pan with a very little oil, no more than a tablespoon.
- To assemble, top pears with mushrooms and blue cheese. Nestle toasted almonds into cheese and serve.
© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle. All Rights Reserved.