This is a true favorite taken directly from the menu and cookbook of Gjelina in Venice, Ca. It is so tasty it boarders on decadent – which is always a good thing. One of the tricks is to poach the garlic cloves in olive oil prior to starting – something that then gives you some great, infused oil to cook everything else with – as well as finding true Creme Fraiche – something that didn’t prove too hard. This was a cornerstone addition to our tradition of “make something yummy and new” for New Year’s Eve.
For x4 good sized slices of toast you’ll need: x4 ciabatta rolls (sliced in half), about 4 cups of chopped mushrooms (we used shiitake but any and all are welcome), about 2 cups olive oil, x6 garlic cloves (whole but peeled), handful of thyme sprigs and leaves, 2 to 3 bay leaves (slightly crunched), 1/2 to 3/4 c creme fraiche (in a pinch, heavy cream will work ok too), 1/2 cup white wine, salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Place whole garlic cloves into a small container you can place into an oven (we used a small sauce pan) and cover with olive oil. Place 5 or 6 thyme sprigs and the bruised bay leaves into the clove pot and place into the oven. Cook until garlic cloves are soft (a fork easily pierces them), about 20-30 mins. Remove from oven and let cool.
Using some of the (now wonderfully infused) oil from the garlic poaching, spread about 1-2 Tbsp of oil on each of the cut halves of the bread. Add another 1-2 Tbsp of the same oil to a skillet and heat to medium/high heat. Place the ciabatta bread oil-side down in the heated skillet and fry until brown – about 5 mins. Remove toast from skillet and set aside on serving plates.
Also using some poaching oil, place about 2-3 Tbsp of oil into a skillet large enough to hold all of chopped mushrooms. Heat to medium/high and add mushrooms. Let cook until brown, tossing occasionally so that they brown evenly. About 8-10 mins.
Turn the heat up to high and add the poached garlic cloves, sliced, and the white wine. Allow wine to reduce by about half, about 5-8 mins. Then add the creme fraiche, about 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium and stir well to incorporate the creme well. Allow to thicken, about 5-8 mins.
Generously spread the mushrooms over the toasted ciabatta bread and serve warm.
Great as a starter or as a main course.