hello, again

it's been 4 months, nearly to the day. i know a lot of you aren't reading anymore, or should i say i know that many of you probably don't have me in your reader feed anymore since there was nothing more to read.

at first i was going to blame it on work, and say it's not my fault, i was in the philippines responding to the emergency after typhoons pepeng and ondoy. and i was, but that was back in october and only for 4 weeks. so what happened to the other 3 months?

(for my other photos from the philippines, they're all on flickr).

and then i was going to blame it on this sort of late-early life crisis i'm having. you know the kind where you go wtf am i doing with my life? and perhaps it coincides with me coming back from the philippines because after i read this beautiful writing, i was left with that painful feeling that even though everything i've been doing for the last several years has me on the path to the success i've always envisioned for myself, now that i can see it closer, that version of success doesn't really seem to be what i want, afterall. or when i think about it honestly, that version of success doesn't match with what makes me happy, day in and day out.

but i'm still here, cooking and taking photographs, and occasionally baking. and what better way to start off this little blog again, then by sharing a quick and easy hors d'oeuvres that could easily start off your new years eve party coming up (we made them to start off our christmas eve dinner). i found these on smitten kitchen, who happened to find them on the nytimes. they just looked so good on her blog i knew i had to try them.

i made slight variation here and there, sometimes based on what we had in the fridge (sour cream instead of heavy cream) and sometimes based on the "classic" french method mr. mimi knows best (see note below). but they disappeared as soon as they were done. so easy, delicious, and does exactly what an hors d'oeuvres should -- whet your appetite for the next course!

so let these tasty creamed mushroom toasts whet your appetite for my blog again. i promise i'll be back soon with the rest of the holiday dinner, and lots more kitchen adventures for next year!

creamed mushrooms on chive toast:
serves 2-4 (it served 2 of us gluttons, but you could, i guess, serve 4 people with this recipe)
adapted from smitten kitchen

note: this mixture is basically a standard duxelles. the original nytimes article, and smitten kitchen's recipe, has you chop the mushrooms to 1/4" and then cook. but to prepare this in the "classic" french method, the mushrooms are roughly chopped (or even not at all if they're small enough) and then after cooking, finely diced. the reason for this is because of the relative high water content of the mushrooms. cooking them on high heat nearly whole (or in bigger pieces) will make them brown nicely and sear in this moisture. i'm sure another reason is because the french like to make things more complicated than they seem, bien sûr! :-)

1/2 lb cremini and shiitake mushrooms
2 tbs butter
1 large shallot, chopped
2 tbs dry white wine
1-2 tb sour cream
salt + pepper, to taste
challah or brioche bread, 4 slices about 1/2" thick and then cut into points or other shapes
1 tb chopped chives

1. brush off dirt from mushrooms, de-stem, and chop mushroom caps.

2. melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat, add shallot and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. turn heat to high, add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes. mushrooms should be soft, and a deep golden shiny color. add wine and de-glaze, reduce until almost dry, about 2 minutes.

3. put the mushroom-shallot mixture back on the cutting board, and finely dice. return to the skillet on medium heat. temper sour cream and add to mixture (you could use regular heavy cream instead). season with salt and pepper.

4. toast bread (technically this should be a "buttered" toast recipe, but because challah or brioche is so rich already, we just toasted them and didn't butter. if you're using only white bread, you probably might want to add some butter after toasting). top each toast with mushroom mixture and sprinkle with chives.