It’s a cool, damp, gray day here on the edge o’ the prairie; only the deep green of the lawn and trees (and the herbs and tomato plant growing ever bigger and more lush on the deck) reminding me that it’s June and not November. Still, thinking about November got me thinking about one of our favorite fall treats – this wild ‘shroom tart. If I had the ‘shrooms and Calvados and cider, we would very likely be having this for dinner tonight. As it is, we’ll muddle through with oven roasted buttermilk chicken, green beans with balsamic vinegar and either roasted potatoes or rice (I haven’t made up my mind on that front yet).
Back to the tart… this recipe comes from my trusty 1985 copy of The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook and has been a tradition at our house for Thanksgiving for lo these many years. Over time, I’ve become somewhat flexible about some of the ingredients; if our local market has the mix of fresh mushrooms called ‘The Wild Bunch’, I happily use them. If I can’t find Calvados – a French apple brandy from Normandy – I will use cognac or port. You COULD substitute regular for the smoked mozzarella; but I wouldn’t recommend it – as a matter of fact, I usually search out our better-stocked cheese sellers for apple wood smoked mozzarella because I really like the layering of apple cider and apple brandy and apple wood smoked cheese. You also could buy a crust, but the butter pastry called for in the recipe comes together so easily in a food processor, and tastes so good, you really should try it. I mean, really, how often do you set out to make a mushroom tart?
•1-1/2 cup flour
•3/4 tsp salt
•1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter cut into small pieces (the recipe calls for unsalted, and I normally ignore that and use regular butter BUT – as I usually make this for Turkey Day – I also usually have unsalted butter in one of the refrigerators for some other fussy recipe – I have made it both ways without complaint)
•3 tbsp ice water
•1 cup apple cider
•3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and soaked in Calvados, port, brandy, chicken stock or water
•1/4 cup olive oil
•1 small yellow onion, minced
•4 oz fresh wild mushrooms (shitake or chanterelles), rinsed, dried and sliced
•8 oz fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
•1/4 cup applejack – or, I just use Calvados if I’ve found it
•Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
•1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
•3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
•3/4 cup shredded smoked mozzarella
•1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Process the flour, salt and butter in a food processor bowl fitted with the steel blade until the mix resembles coarse meal. With the machine running,pour the ice water in through the feed tube in a steady stream just until the dough holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate for one hour.
Heat the cider to boiling and pour over the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured board (I roll out between waxed paper). Line a 9 inch tart pan with the dough, trim and crimp. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Line the shell with aluminum foil and pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans and foil and set aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion and wild and fresh mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the porcini and its’ liquid, the applejack or Calvados and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.
Beat the eggs and cream together and stir in the cheeses. Combine with the mushroom mixture and pour into the baked tart shell.
Bake for 30 minutes, then cool five minutes before slicing and serving. The recipe recommends serving immediately at this point; I just set it aside and serve with the feast.