Monday, 26 August 2013

Bruschetta with Wild Mushrooms – In Memory of a Magazine

I was a journalist for more than 20 years. And in that time I had the good fortune to head a number of leading interior design magazines in Singapore. Some were existing titles, while others were new ones that I conceived and brought into being.

Among my duties – and pleasures – as editor were the visits my team and I made to some of the most beautiful houses in this region. I also met fascinating people -- movers and shakers many of them; and I enjoyed first glimpses of trends as well as privileged access to happenings within the industry. To top it all, I was paid to read mountains of magazines during working hours!

The cover of the final issue.
There was a foreign magazine that had great influence on me, particularly when it came to determining the direction and content of my own work. Metropolitan Home was an American interior and lifestyle magazine that catered to urbanites. Its focus was casual, contemporary living centered around chic, high-end interiors and design.

When the magazine was first launched in 1974, it was called Apartment Life and was aimed at the so-called Woodstock generation. In 1981 the magazine underwent a re-brand, emerging as the hipper Metropolitan Home, with more up-to-date layouts and features targeted specifically at the Baby Boomers.

The interior pages of Metropolitan Home.
Metropolitan Home had gorgeous photographs of interiors that I used to salivate over. It also had some regular columns that I thought were very clever and original for their time. One of these was the ‘Hi/Low’ feature, in which an interior scene with very expensive furnishings is first shown, and this would be followed by its ‘mirror-image’ with furnishings and decorations purchased at a fraction of the cost. I was so taken with ideas such as these that I used them in my own magazines.

Since Metropolitan Home was a so-called ‘lifestyle’ magazine there were recipe pages too, and I would faithfully cut these out, file them, and test-cook them whenever I had the chance.

It was heartbreaking for me when Metropolitan Home folded in December 2009, a victim of the economic recession and the collapsed housing market. This recipe is from the late magazine; and it never fails to wow the audience when I serve it as an appetizer.

Bruschetta with Wild Mushrooms

Baguette                                  2
Olive oil                                   ¼ cup + 3 tbsp
Butter                                      ¼ cup
Dried shiitake mushrooms     50 g, soaked in 2 cups of warm water for 30 minutes,
White button mushrooms     250 g, thinly sliced
Shallots                                   2 tbsp, minced
Garlic                                       1 tbsp, minced
Salt                                          ½ tsp
Ground black pepper            ¼ tsp
Mascarpone cheese               300 g

  1. Remove crust from bread. Brush bread generously with olive oil. Toast bread in a 160C oven for 10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside.
  2. Heat butter and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Sauté shallots and garlic until translucent. Add all mushrooms and fry for another 3 minutes. Add mushroom water and simmer slowly until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  3. Remove from heat and season it with salt and pepper.
  4. Let it rest to room temperature.
  5. Spread marscarpone cheese on bread. Spoon mushroom evenly on top of cheese.
  6. Garnish with Italian parsley (optional).
  7. Serve.