They are simple. They are not quick. What!? It’s not fast? How very dare she post a recipe that isn’t speedy, you might ask? Well, this tiny appetizer is a mouthful of flavor and you’ll be happy if you take the time to try them. Caramelized onions, mushrooms, a titch of sherry, some thyme…what’s not to like?
I am blessed with many talented friends, one of whom is an artist and who had an art gallery for a while. Before one of her gallery shows, she asked me to help with some appetizers for the event. Of course, I was thrilled to do it.
This is what I came up with on the spur of the moment, using what I had on hand at the time. I do that a lot. Most times I’m not able to recreate what I’ve done, simply because my memory (shall we say) isn’t what it used to be. Erhmmm. Anyway, in this particular case, one of the gals at the show asked me for the recipe, so while it was fresh in my mind, I wrote down what I had done.
Since then, and thanks to her, I’ve made these little bites several times. They have always been a hit.
When I said that they take a bit time, I don’t think that’s bad. Some things take time. Not everything can be a 30 minute meal. That said, for this recipe, that bit of time is so worth it for the natural sweet flavor you develop in the onions; it’s really what makes this tartlet so wonderful: the caramelized onions.
There are so many recipes out there that say you can caramelize onions in ten minutes; I am sorry to say, I just don’t agree. Sure, you can brown onions more quickly, but to caramelize them, you really need to do it slowly and at a moderate heat so you don’t burn them. Scorched onions will taste just like that. Scorched. It really defeats the purpose, in my mind, of caramelizing…which is to bring out the sweetness of the onion.
Please, don’t be afraid of the time it takes. Developing the sweet essence of the onions is key, really (see…I’m stuck on this notion). Julia Child, one of my cooking idols, really drove that point home for me with her instructions in books and on her cooking shows back in the day; when I make French Onion Soup, I caramelize about nine pounds of onions at a time. This process takes hours, because I cook them over a low heat, stirring occasionally, while I go about my business elsewhere. But the end result is absolutely amazing. Because the quantity of onions in this recipe is small, 30-40 minutes is all it will take. It is worth it.
ps: Athens makes the Phyllo Cups…you can find them in most frozen food sections of your market.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, halved veritically, sliced thin
- titch of salt
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped fine
- ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon sherry (you could use brandy or dry white wine too)
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- ground black pepper to taste
- 15 mini Phyllo shells
- In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the sliced onions and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add just a titch of salt and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for another 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and thyme to the butter and onions.
- Stir and continue to simmer for another 10- 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions will be a golden brown and the mushrooms will begin to brown on the edges.
- Add the sherry and scrape the bits from the bottom of the skillet.
- Continue to cook for about 3 minutes...you're cooking off the alcohol from the sherry.
- Remove from heat and add the cream cheese.
- Stir until the cheese is melted.
- Stir in the beaten egg and the parsley.
- Add pepper to taste.
- Spoon the ingredients into the phyllo cups and place on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cups for about 15 minutes, or until the stuffing is golden brown and puffed.
- Remove from the oven and onto a serving platter.
- Serve warm.