My mum loves chanterelle mushrooms.
As they were rarely found in suburban Calgary, she always tucked a few cans of them into her suitcase when we flew back to Canada after a summer in Switzerland.
Today it is much easier to find these curly golden mushrooms in Calgary, and the fresh variety are definitely superior to the tinned. But my mum still gets excited every time she sees them in the supermarket and buys those little wooden baskets without fail.
The main advantage of her love is that she will offer to happily (and painstakingly) clean a whole basket with a small pastry brush.
One of the things I like to make with this frilly fungi is Pilzschnitten—basically, mushrooms on toast.
I found this version of PIlzschnitten in one of my favourite Swiss cookbooks Kochkunst und Traditionen in der Schweiz from Mondo Verlag and it claimed to come from the Entlebuch, where my husband grew up.
The recipe description reads as follows:
Das Entlebuch, ein Bezirk des Kantons Luzern, war früher ein völlig unberührtes Tal, in dem nicht selten Bären und Wölfe hausten.
In the past the Entlebuch, a region in canton Lucerne, was a wild valley where bears and wolves often dwelt.
I can confirm that neither Sam nor any of his relatives have ever spotted a bear or wolf (or heard of the Entlebucher Försterschnitten) but it seems altogether probable that their ancestors may have.
Regardless, this mushroomy meal was a hit with the family.
Some of the ingredients may seem a little vague, but that’s the beauty of this recipe, you can really use what you have. Notes below on what I used, and what you can substitute with.
12 small slices of toast bread
200 g hard cheese, in slices
200 g cured meat, in slices
around 6 pears, sliced
For the mushrooms:
30 g butter
1 onion, minced
500 g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp flour
100 ml white wine
250 ml stock
150 g Quark or sour cream
salt and pepper
chives to garnish
Preheat you oven to 200 C / 400 F / gas mark 6.
Lay out your bread on parchment lined baking sheets and spread with a bit of mustard. Place the cured meat and cheese on top.
Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Place the sliced pear on top.
In the meantime, make your creamy mushrooms.
In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Once it is sputtering, add the onion and cook until translucent. Then add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes more.
Sprinkle the flour over and stir well, then stir in the white wine, then the broth. The sauce should thicken.
Lower the heat and cook for about 8 minutes. If it is looking a bit too thick, add a little more water.
Stir in the Quark or sour cream, and cook for a couple of minutes more, until warmed through.
Taste for salt and pepper and add as required.
Spoon the mushroom mixture over the meat-cheese-pear-covered bread and garnish with chives.
Bread: I used whole wheat toast bread, but the original recipe uses a Schwarzbrot, probably a dark rye. Pretty much all bread slices work here, and it is a great way to use up leftover bread. The twelve toast slices I used were pretty small, so if you are using a regular loaf, you probably don’t need as many slices.
Cheese: I used our local favourite, Trubschacher Bergkäse, but any hard Swiss cheese would do (Appenzeller, Gruyère, Emmentaler).
Pears: I have used both canned and fresh ripe pears. The original recipe suggests poaching your own pears first (here’s my guide to poached pears). All versions work, but if you are using fresh pears and not poaching them, make sure they are quite ripe and soft.
Mushrooms: I used chanterelles (Eierschwämmli in Swiss German) exclusively, but most other kinds, or a mix, would work well too.
Stock: I used chicken stock, but beef or veggie would work too.
Serves four as a main meal, with side salad.