Food + Drink

A Recipe From the Gjelina Cookbook: Mushroom Toast

It’s tough to introduce a cookbook like Gjelina — one that has already warranted so much high praise surrounding the acclaimed restaurant in Venice Beach, CA — but perhaps it’d be enough to say that it perfectly captures both the no-frills aesthetic of Gjelina restaurant and the beautiful way ingredients are handled and presented. It should be added that chef Travis Lett has translated his genius dishes fluidly to paper, especially when augmented with gorgeous photography by all-star team Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriot.

All in all, we’re excited to share a sneak peek before the book is on sale next week, but much like the restaurant, this cookbook is one you have to experience firsthand.

Recipes from the new Gjelina cookbook

I’ve loved every visit to Gjelina, and was pleased as pie (or should I say toast?) to find a favorite dish of mine — Mushroom Toast — in recipe form. With “seared mushrooms, lashed with house-made crème fraîche, a splash of wine, and a few herbs, mounded on top of grilled bread,” this dish is simple to put together but tastes deceptively complex.

Mushroom Toast from the new Gjelina cookbook

Gjelina elevates everyday cooking with approachable recipes, and will surely find a place among your favorite stack of cookbooks to be reached for again and again.

With simple recipes come the extra devotion to quality ingredients, and your tastebuds will thank you for using the freshest variety of mushrooms. This Mushroom Toast makes for an easy lunch or as an impressive appetizer for dinner guests. Scroll down for the recipe!

Mushroom Toast from the new Gjelina cookbook

Mushroom Toast
Serves Four 

  • One 6-in [15-cm] hunk ciabatta, halved horizontally and then crosswise to yield 4 pieces
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for toasting the bread
  • 1 lb [455 g] mushrooms, such as nameko, hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, matsutake
  • 6 cloves Garlic Confit, sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup [120 ml] dry white wine
  • 1¼ cups [300 ml] Buttermilk Crème Fraîche
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

Grill or toast the bread (see recipe below). Set aside.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the mushrooms, in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. It’s important that the mushrooms sear and not steam. Cook, without stirring, until the mushrooms are well browned, about 3 minutes. Give the mushrooms a good toss to turn them and then briefly sear on the other side.

Add the garlic confit to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the crème fraîche until well incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, season with more salt and pepper if necessary, and stir in the parsley and thyme.

Place the toasted bread on individual plates. Spoon the mushrooms and pan sauce on top, dividing it evenly. Serve hot.

Garlic Confit
Makes 4 cups 

2 cups [480 ml] extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
8 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
12 fresh thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves, bruised

Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C].

In a medium baking dish, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. The garlic should be completely covered by about 1 in [2.5 cm] of oil. Bake until the garlic cloves are soft, fragrant, and lightly browned but still hold their shape, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months, completely covered with olive oil to prevent air from reaching them.

Grilled or Toasted Bread
Makes 12 toasts 

In the words of Travis: “I would not expect anyone to start a wood or charcoal fire just to make toasts, but if you happen to have one going, by all means use it to grill tasty bread. Ideally, grilled bread is made over an open charcoal or hardwood flame, so the bread is crispy on the outside, soft in the center, and slightly charred around the edges. My favorite non-grill option is to get a cast-iron skillet or grill pan very hot on the stove top, brush the bread on both sides with olive oil, and brown the bread in the pan. Otherwise it’s perfectly fine to use a toaster or broiler setting on your oven or toaster oven.” 

  • Twelve inch [12-mm] thick slices rustic bread
  • Olive oil for brushing

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat.

Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil. Cook the bread in batches until browned and toasted, about 3 minutes on each side. Set the slices in one layer on a cooling rack, lightly brushing the tops with olive oil. Repeat until all the bread has been grilled.

Serve within a few hours, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Huge thanks to Travis Lett for sharing this wonderful recipe — we can’t wait for Gjelina to go on sale!

Irene Kim Shepherd

Assoc. Manager of Visual Content at Chronicle Books, photographer, and overall aesthete. See more of her work at irenekly.com.
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