Monday, February 21, 2011


Sometime in late January I suggested we have a potluck lunch at work and boy, am I glad I did. Although the day before the potluck I wasn't so glad; I was wondering why exactly I would suggest a potluck the day before I was hosting 20 JK/SK children at my home for my son's sixth birthday party. But I had offered to bring chili. And since I had made a large batch a few weeks ago and frozen most of it all I really had to do was thaw, heat and serve.

I love potluck lunches. Particularly random potluck lunches like the one we had. There was no list of who was bringing what but it all came together so well. Here is what we had at the table -

Chipotle Dip and Tortilla Chips
Goat Cheese and Crackers
Pasta Salad with Veggies and Feta Cheese
Bacon, Cheddar and Mushroom Squares
Chili (plus toppings - cheese(s), avocado)
Fresh bread and rolls
Dessert - a variety of sweet, sticky squares

We were aiming to heat things up since it has been such a cold (long) Winter and I think we did a great job. The table was decorated apropos our theme of 'heating things up' (no thanks to me, but thanks to another enterprising colleague who happens to have chili pepper lights and a Mexican blanket that doubled as a table cloth). The food all looked and smelled divine. We chatted, we ate, we chatted some more, we ate some more. It was a perfect Friday lunch. The only thing missing is a picture. I thought I had snapped one but my phone died mid-click. Next time there will be pictures because I plan to rally the troops and do it all again soon. We threw around some possible themes - Quebecois food might be our next effort. I do have 'Pudding Chomeur' on my to-do list!

I think that my favourite dish at the potluck was the Bacon, Cheddar and Mushroom squares that M. made. I am waiting patiently for an opportunity to make these again soon. They were divine. The recipe, M. was kind enough to inform me, is from the LCBO Food and Wine magazine. I found it online here. It's an Anna Olson recipe. I'm a fan of Anna but have generally made her sweets. Turns out she is just as good at savoury dishes....

Bacon, Cheddar and Mushroom Squares


1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (125 mL) coarsely grated medium cheddar cheese

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) minced shallot
¾ lb (175 g) fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
¾ cup (175 mL) half-and-half cream
6 slices cooked bacon, coarsely chopped
2 cups (500 mL) coarsely grated medium cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

2. Lightly grease and line an 8-inch (20-cm) square pan with parchment paper.

3. For crust, stir flour and sugar to combine. Cut in butter with fingers or a pastry cutter until coarse and crumbly (dough will appear dry). Stir in cheddar cheese and press into prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes and cool to room temperature.

4. For filling, keep oven at 350ºF (180ºC). In a large sauté pan over medium heat add oil, shallots and mushrooms. Sauté until all liquid has evaporated from mushrooms, about 6 minutes, then stir in garlic and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat to cool.

5. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and cream. Stir in cooled mushroom mixture, chopped cooked bacon and cheddar cheese. Pour filling onto cooled crust and bake for about 30 minutes, until centre of filling no longer jiggles. Cool squares to room temperature, then chill for at least 4 hours before slicing.

6. Squares can be served at room temperature or warmed for 10 minutes at 350ºF (180ºC) in a baking tray.

Makes one 8-inch-square (20-cm) pan, or 25 squares

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