by Alison Hein
My high school art teacher, Mrs. Norton, had a favorite phrase – “Simplicity is divinity.” We used to joke about it because she said it so frequently. We even worked it into a not-so-flattering poem about school in general, and our teachers in particular. But through the years, I’ve come to appreciate the sentiment behind the words. Take Champignon Toast, for example. Bread, cheese, mushrooms. Slice and add heat. And what do you get? A masterpiece! ☺
As a teenager visiting cousins in Germany, I experienced many firsts. This cheesy, melted delight was one of my favorites. Struggling through the German language, I was somewhat confused by the use of the French word champignon (until I learned that the word for mushrooms in Germany is Pilzen).
So I stuck with the French name and have been making Champignon Toast ever since. Richly satisfying for breakfast. Served with a fresh garden or cucumber salad, it also makes a wonderful light dinner. Many variations can be achieved by working with different types of breads, cheeses and mushrooms. Ham or bacon can be added for a sturdier open-faced melt. And perhaps best of all, this recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients almost always on hand.
I like my Champignon Toast pushed to the edge of burnt, where the bread is warm but still soft, and the cheese is melted until nearly crispy. You may prefer yours a little less done, so watch closely when broiling as it melts quickly. Try it, at any rate, for a simple, divine breakfast in bed that even Mrs. Norton would approve.
2 slices Ciabatta bread
2 slices Jarlsberg cheese
2 crimini mushrooms
Dash of balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fruit, for garnish (optional)
Turn on broiler. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil. Cut 2 ½-inch thick slices of Ciabatta bread (if not pre-sliced), and place on foil-covered tray. Cut two thin slices of Jarlsberg cheese, to evenly cover bread slices.
Clean mushrooms by brushing thoroughly with a paper towel. Trim ends, and slice into thin slices. Arrange evenly on top of cheese-covered bread. Drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar on top of mushroom slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Broil champignon toast slices 6 inches from flame, 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted and mushrooms are soft. Serve hot.
Makes 1 serving.