Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sherried Mushroom Cups Appetizer

Potlucks have come a long way since my parents' day, where everything came in a casserole dish and invariable contained cream of mushroom soup. The group dinners lost favor over time, but have come back in vogue. The resurgence is mostly due to the recession but also because potlucks make it easier to host more parties because you aren't doing all the cooking and cleaning. 

Potlucks come in all shapes and forms these days from theme oriented to free for alls (which believe it or not can turn out wonderfully) to Safari style where you go from house to house for different courses. When we host a potluck we make the main meal and ask our guests to bring starters, sides or desserts.  We were recently asked to bring an appetizer to a birthday celebration and brought these savory sherried mushroom bites. They’re delicious and satisfying without being too filling.  They’re easy to make and travel well.
Sherried Mushroom Cups Appetizer

Makes 30-45
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tbls. unsalted butter
1 ½ lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
6 oz. Serrano ham, finely chopped
1/3 cup cream Sherry
½ cup packed parsley, minced
3 tbls. fine dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, plus 2 tbls., finely grated
2 packages frozen fillo cups/shells

Cook onions in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent. Stir in mushrooms and bell peppers and cook until mushrooms are cooked down and begin to brown. Add ham and Sherry, stirring until liquid is evaporated. Stir in parsley, bread crumbs, and 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese. Cool to room temperature.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pre-cook fillo cups for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool. Look for these cups/shells in the freezer section near the fillo dough. Here's the brand we have in the Bay Area. There may be other brands regionally. Be sure to get small cups, these are about an 1 1/2 inch in diameter.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
Place pre-cooked cups on baking sheet. Fill each cup with 1 tsp. mushroom mixture and top with a pinch of parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until hot. Serve with dry Prosecco or white wine.

Tips and Tidbits
Fill the cups just before you leave your house and tightly cover the baking sheet with aluminum to transport. Take foil off and heat in the host's oven. 
Fill the cups/shells just before you want to cook them so they won't get soggy.
The mushroom mixture freezes really well. I've been known to make it a month in advance of a party and then fill the cups just before our guests arrive. One less thing to make the day of a party!
These pastry shells are incredibly versatile. Anything goes, let your imagination run wild!

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