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Chef and cookbook author Sara Moulton shared three things to do with that everyday staple that always seems to go bad sooner than we expect: bread. These buttery, crispy mushroom rolls are perfect for the pastry challenged—or for anyone who doesn't feel he or she has the time to make homemade dough—because they use "homemade-style" white bread as a stand in for pastry. ("Homemade-style" white bread is a legit alternative to that no-flavor, no-texture stuff you can smush into a spitball.) Sara adapted the rolls from one of her aunt Jean's recipes. They are really popular with her extended family, and we bet they will be with yours, too!
"Aunt Jean makes a batch of these rolls, lathers them up with a ton of melted butter, and then parks them in the freezer for future cocktail parties or unexpected last-minute guests. A fairly decadent appetizer—they look elegant and taste rich—these mushroom rolls don't actually require much work.
Indeed, this bread-as-pastry concept works for virtually any stuffing, savory or sweet. Just remember that if the filling is too wet, it will sog up the bread. For example, if you've chosen something like mushrooms or apples as the stuffing, cook them first. The liquid will evaporate, and you'll concentrate the flavor. I used regular old button mushrooms here, but you could get wild and go with any variety, from chantarelle to shiitake to portobello. (And maybe finish it off with some truffle oil, aka Mushroom Helper.)" —Sara
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and the salt and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid they give off has evaporated. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the half-and-half and simmer, stirring for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Let cool.
Working in batches (so the bread doesn't dry out), cut off the crusts from the bread, reserving the crusts for another use such as breadcrumbs. Using a rolling pin, roll out the bread so that it is quite thin. Cover the stack of flattened bread with plastic wrap and, working with about 4 slices at a time (keeping the rest covered), put a heaping teaspoon of the mushroom mixture, spreading it evenly, on one end of the bread. Moisten the other end of the slice with water and roll up the bread tightly, enclosing the filling. Press the seam to seal tightly and set the rolls aside, covered with plastic wrap, until you have stuffed and rolled all of the slices. Melt the remaining butter and butter the top and sides of all the rolls well.
Transfer the rolls to a rimmed sheet pan and freeze them for 30 minutes. Cut them in half crosswise. At this point you can either bake them or transfer them to a container to freeze until you are ready to use them.
To bake the mushroom rolls, preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange them in one layer on lightly buttered parchment and bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning them once, or until the bread is lightly golden and crisp.
Adapted from Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners by Sara Moulton. Copyright © 2010 by Simon & Schuster. Used with permission by Sara Moulton. All rights reserved.