I overbought mushrooms for something-- and had a ton leftover. They aren't a typical side dish in my house, but asked myself, "WWAWD?" (What would Alice Waters do?) Turns out, she would steam-roast them in adorable parchment paper packets with a little garlic and herbs.
So that's what I did, with a couple modifications-- added some julienned leeks (also leftover), and added olives just cause. And that "en papillote" folding seemed a little unnecessary, so I piled all my ingredients up, tied them in little bundles with butcher's twine, and baked them until the whole house was full of delicious garlic-mushroom-herb smells (about 20 minutes). I put each of my kid's plates, and when they sat down to dinner, they were quite intrigued by the "present" next to their chicken. And they loved opening them up.
My seven year old (look out for her on Master Chef Junior sometime soon) said, "Mom, I really liked them, but the juice from the mushrooms ran all over the plate when you opened it up. What if you put some of those little baby potatoes on the bottom? Cut them in half, and then all the mushroom butter would soak into the potatoes." Uh, #Genius??
For 4 servings:
8 cups mushrooms, mixed variety if desired
12 baby potatoes, boiled until just tender, then cooled and cut in half (or use a larger potato, just make slices about 1/4 inch thick)
1 leek, sliced thinly (you could also use onion- or skip it all together)
12 olives- preferably briny green ones, pitted of course
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
whatever herbs you have-- marjoram, oregano and sage are especially delicious with mushrooms
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut four square sheets of parchment paper about 14-16 square inches.
Make sure the mushrooms are dirt-free, then cut them into large pieces- if using different varieties, make sure they are roughly the same size.
Divide and arrange cooked potato halves on the parchment paper. Season with a little salt. Pile 1/4th of the leeks, mushrooms and olives on top of each little potato mound. Sprinkle the pile with a little more salt. Microplane one half of a garlic clove onto each pile. Top each with a tablespoon or so of freshly-chopped herbs, and a tablespoon of butter.
Lift the corners of the parchment and tie it all in a bundle with some butcher's twine or other ovenproof string (make sure you tie the string in a bow, as opposed to a knot, for easy opening later). Arrange your parcels on a baking sheet.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Let them rest for a couple minutes so that diners are not blasted with hot steam-- that wouldn't be a very good present...