Make Ahead Mushroom Turnovers are Simple and Simply Divine
Oh, how many years have I worked my dreams of a party, a season or a relationship into these sumptuous packages? Years. Before M&M. Before Costco. Before “unwrap and zap”. And though none of the preceding replaced a homemade mushroom turnover at our house, I did stop making them. I stopped having parties.
I no longer had the energy or desire I once possessed to make and bake and stash enough food for half the world’s population to pull out for a one night feast of festive frivolity, fun and way too much food. But, delicious food. Each and every morsel must rise above that bar. Eyes had to roll. After every single bite. Yup. I was watching. If you wanted more, or an invite to the next one, “pay your respects to the hostess”: swoon, please.
I recalled this Mushroom Turnovers recipe as so labour intensive. I would hunker in and bunker down for a weekend to crank them out. Is it that I have gained experience, or is it that I only made one batch of 80 instead of 2 to three batches? Maybe more. Either way, this time round, it was a pleasure to make the filling, the pastry and to fill the pockets perfectly. Yes, perfectly. Another requirement. Few liked to cook with me in those days. No one cooks with me now. We had a lot of laughs, but everyone learned to make their own and not to even attempt to help me. I would absolutely pipe in, or pick up a slightly slumping pastry to perk up or redo. Don’t bring an ego to my house when you come to help out. You won’t go home with it, anyway.
Mushroom Turnovers: Mushroom Duxelle Filling
Mis en place for Mushroom Turnovers filling, only, above.
Such a busy year 2014 was. Traveling almost too much. Certainly not enough time to savor the preparation of the holiday season as I usually do. So, to simplify, I cut out the sweets. Yes, I did. No Christmas Cookies this year. None. (Uh-hem… except the Amaretti I learned to make at Christmas in November 2014.) Not one. This would be the year I would revisit my favourite savory freezer appetizer repertoire from those years gone by. Retro-recipes that are timeless. This is definitely one of those. Don’t think for a minute that the taste and texture of these Mushroom Turnovers even remotely resembles one from Costco or M&M of similar appearance. Oh, you may swoon over those unctuous bites hot from the oven simply because you are so critically deprived of really good homemade food. Try one of these. I challenge you.
Most of my closest friends have gone to the dark side. They unwrap and zap like the rest of the world, or they pop into their favourite restaurant and order a couple dozen of this or that to provide something of a higher quality as they “no longer have” or “make” the time to prepare homemade food. What??? Isn’t that a basic human right? Shouldn’t every adult be required to know how to prepare delicious, nutritious and economical homemade food? That was once a shared belief, young ones. Yes, it was.
Less that a pound of finely diced mushrooms will take about 20 minutes to carefully chop for the filling. That is the hardest part. I used to think it took hours. That was when 20 minutes took hours. Now I am old, and 20 minutes takes a blink of an eye. And though I am older, I am faster with my knife…. and my mind wanders more easily, so I don’t remain focused on the mushroom chopping, thus the chore is not so tedious.
A mushroom duxelle is what you are going for. The little pinch of thyme (and fresh, if possible) makes all the difference. It is the same kind of mushroom mixture you would prepare for a Beef Wellington should you ever be so inclined.
Mushroom Turnovers: Cream Cheese Pastry
Cream cheese? Seriously? I thought so, too, waaaay back then. In the late 70’s when I first made these. Whaat? It is delicious. And the possibilities are endless.
I mixed all of the ingredients for the Mushroom Turnovers pastry in my Thermomix, combined into a ball after removing the dough from the bowl and chilled it briefly before dividing it into 4 portions and cutting out discs with my favourite little cookie or biscuit cutter.
It can be a little tricky to get the filling into the pastry, and I recall struggling with it, for years. Now, a snap. moisten the inside of one half of the disc with water, holding the turnover in your hand, pinch the edges together starting at the middle, then go to both ends at the same time, and continue to close the pastry around the filling. Set on the parchment paper to rest, and continue.
Mushroom Turnovers: Filling the Pastry
I cut all out in advance, cover with plastic and they don’t stick together at all. I sit in front of a table, put on a good movie, and fill ’em up.
I have not liked the edges finished with the tines of a fork, but the pressure of the steam inside of the pastry can force the pastry to open in the oven, so something needs to be done.
The pastry is orange, above, as I am demonstrating with a jalapeno pepper jelly turnover. After closing the pocket, I go back and use the cutter again, to make the edges crisp and reshape the turnover which also provides that little extra somethin’ I was talking about. The turnover should no longer open at the edges due to steam pressure while baking in the oven. Piercing the turnover will help, as well, but filling can then ooze through those holes. See what kinds of big decisions cooks and bakers have to make to provide nutritious delicious homemade food for their family?
Above, you can see that I did pierce some. Below, I chose not to pierce others. In the future, no piercing for me. After a wash with beaten egg yolk to provide a finished sheen, sheets of the turnovers were fast frozen overnight and repackaged in zip lock freezer bags that were labelled and dated until needed.
Which would be now. I have a little stash of these this year. In “those days” I had 8-10 freezer appetizers on hand from October through January every year. This year, I had 6. I am working at adding to my favourites to come up with a “traditional set” of 8 that I will make for the next few years. Why? They are scrumptious. I enjoy making them. No one does it anymore and when we have guests for dinner, the appetizer course is already done, homemade, each morsel a celebration of the flavours within and a whole lotta love that may not be visible, yet is the defining ingredient that sets the meal a little into the “unexpected” realm. And, that is always nice, isn’t it? To find something quite unexpected when invited to dinner? The frozen freezer appetizers ready to meet the oven, above.
That wasn’t meant to be a rhetorical question, but it probably was. No one gets invited to anyone’s house for dinner anymore, right? What am I talking about! Thank goodness for a few old fuddy duddies that I hang with that still issue such rare and precious invitations. Even in my crowd, these invitations are rare, and oh, so precious. Thank you (and hint-hint). I hope I demonstrate the intensity of my gratefulness for your culinary prowess and how dearly I value our friendship to you, when I invite you back.
The mushroom turnovers were always Ragan’s favourite. I was tickled to make them for her again this year, and I did make them, just for her. And, behold, modern day miracles still do happen. Vanja loved them, too. I mean, he loved them. I was overjoyed. And, found I do, too. I don’t think I ever stopped to really allow myself to indulge in my own baking or cooking in the past. This year was the year of, “Oh, my gosh! That is really good!” Favourites above: Olive Cheese Puffs, Mushroom Turnovers, Jalapeno Pepper Jelly Turnovers in Sharp Cheddar Pastry with Garlic Asian Meatballs dipped in Deviant Cumberland Sauce. And that isn’t all.
I have now found myself on a meatball kick, or quest. I want to host a meatball appetizer party. I want to make all different kinds of meatball canapes, but I want to taste the recipes first. Got any “to-die-for” favourites you can share with me?
The mouth of one of the Mushroom Turnovers, above, parted only slightly. No filling escaped.
The pastry was flavourful and flaky and the filling? Moist and meaty. All in all: a festive bite fit for the festive season. A bite that I most thoroughly enjoyed this year, like no other before me. A bite that I will be making again, year after year after year as homemade appetizers are becoming extinct and I just cannot let that happen.
Join me in my cause. Revive party fare in our home kitchens. Bring on the retro recipes. Share them with me! My apron and oven are both on and I am way past ready!
These make ahead freezer turnovers have been a family favourite at our house for well over 30 years. They are a bit finicky to make, so get everything done and form them one evening when watching a great movie.
Ingredients for the Pastry"
- 1 250 g package cold cream cheese , cubed
- 1 cup or 220g ice cold butter , in cubes
- 1 ½ cup or 225g all-purpose flour
Ingredients for the Filling:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¾ pound fresh mushrooms , finely chopped
- ½ medium onion , minced
- 1/8 t dried thyme
- ¼ t salt
- ½ t ground black pepper
- 1 ½ t all-purpose flour
- ½ c sour cream
- egg yolk for brushing on pastry
Instructions for the Pastry:
Mix cream cheese and 1 cup butter
Add flour until fully incorporated; pat into a ball, and refrigerate
Instructions for the Pastry in Thermomix:
Scale flour and butter into TM bowl: pulse for 10 seconds on Turbo until fine meal
Scale cream cheese into TMbowl; pulse for 10 seconds until well combined (see above photo)
Place all ingredients in a bowl or on the counter and form into 2 balls by hand; warm to room temperature
Instructions for the Filling:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet; add mushrooms, onion, thyme, salt and pepper
Saute, stirring constantly, until tender (about 5 minutes)
Sprinkle flour over ingredients to avoid lumps; stir to thicken
Reduce heat to low; stir in sour cream
Heat just until thickened; remove from the heat
Mixture should not be runny; it should sit in the spoonful on the pastry without spreading
Instructions for Making the Turnovers:
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to less than 1/4 inch thickness; cut into 2.5 inch rounds with fluted cutter
Place small amount of filling in the middle of each circle; dot water along inside edge of each pastry circle
Fold dough over filling to half circle; press to seal dampened edges
Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper; press edges with a fork and puncture each decoratively to release steam while cooking OR recut sealed edges with the cutter, as illustrated
Pre-heat oven to 375°F if baking now
Brush with egg yolk; bake for 12 minutes, at 350°F, or until golden brown OR
Brush with egg yolk and freeze on parchment lined cookie sheet overnight; package into labelled and dated zip-lock freezer bags
Remove from freezer, place on parchment lined cook sheet and bake frozen at 400°F for 15 – 18 minutes, until golden