These dishes generally contain cheese, usually either mushrooms or asparagus (often both), and sometimes chopped bell peppers or crushed pineapple. In the beginning the sauce was usually a can of Campbell’s condensed mushroom or asparagus soup mixed with cream, and the dish was topped with cheese, but these days the sauce is usually made from scratch, using some combination of:
- melted white or blue mould cheese (e.g. Camembert or Brie), or
- melted flavoured block cheese, or
- cream cheese, or
- cheese spread
Protein is usually provided in the form of ham or shrimp, but chicken can be used as well.
The spices vary. I have seen recipes that use sweet paprika like this one, but also curry powder, Season-All, or garlic. This is the first and only dish of this kind I have tasted that uses mustard as a flavouring, and I have to say it stands out for that reason, especially if you use hot Dijon-style mustard. However, not everyone likes hot mustard, so if you want a crowd pleaser, use sweet mustard instead, or leave it out altogether.
Fresh substitutions can be made for the canned mushrooms and asparagus, in which case don’t forget to prepare some mushroom and asparagus stock to replace the liquid from the cans. Water will not do as a replacement for the liquid, and you will lose some flavour if you use extra cream or milk instead of the liquid.
- 50 ml cream
- 200 g mushroom-flavoured cheese spread
- 1 tbs mayonnaise
- 1 small can green asparagus, liquid included
- 1 small can mushrooms, liquid included (looks better with whole small button mushrooms, but the big sliced ones taste the same)
- 2 tbs mustard. The original recipe says to use sweet mustard, but I like the bite Dijon mustard adds to the dish
- 3-4 slices of bread. I prefer whole wheat, but white is fine too. Crusts may be kept or removed according to taste.
- 150 g chopped ham (vegetarians can use tofu or just leave it out altogether)
- Sweet paprika powder
Mix everything together in a saucepan except the bread, ham and paprika. Heat through (do not boil) and stir to mix well. Tear the sliced bread into pieces and put in the bottom of a casserole dish or small lasagna pan (don't line it completely, just sprinkle the bread over it). Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the ham. Pour evenly over the bread, sprinkle a little paprika over the top, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200°C (180°C if you have a convection oven). Serve in the casserole dish/lasagna pan.
This dish also makes a nice little meal for 2-3 people, served with a fresh salad.
You can use the sauce as a filling for a bread roll, in which case substitute the roll for the sliced bread, spread the slightly cooled filling on the roll and roll it up, then mix together:
- 2 stiffly whipped egg whites,
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (e.g. Gouda or Monterey Jack)
- 1 tsp sweet paprika powder,
This dish can be frozen before baking and popped in the oven when needed.