Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A fine old tart

When I read recently (and confirmed my findings on nutrition-data.com) that mushrooms are nearly a superfood, providing ample quantities of everything the body needs, I was delerious with joy. Not only are they just about the tastiest things on the planet, now they're bloody good for you as well! So I headed straight for Union Market in the Slope to fill a basket with fungi, buerre D'Isigny (that wonderful Brittany butter with sea salt crystals in) and some parmesan cheese. I was thinking about baking them.

After selecting some wonderful specimens (baby bellas, portabellas, oyster, chanterelles) I headed back home and grabbed a bottle of Samuel Smith's British Porter from D'Vine on the way. After downing my beer in record time, I set about baking my swag. But when I remembered I had some one of those cheat pie-crusts in the chiller, baking them was the last thing on my mind. I wanted pastry! So mushroom tart was the only way to go.

Now this recipe really is a piece of piss. And I'm not even going to give weights and measures - just eyeball the stuff. Barring a moment of complete abstract madness, you can't balls this up. I whizzed 2 large handfuls of my mushrooms in the processor and threw them into a skillet to stir - you need to get as much moisture out of the damn thins as possible, and you'll be surprised how 'wet' they are. Keep stirring and don't let the buggers burn. Low heat, please. In another skillet, I fried half an onion, and some garlic until soft. Add this to your other skillet with the drying mushrooms in. Season the whole lot well - they'll need plenty of salt - and keep the whoe thing turning until almost dry. In the empty onion and garlic pan, add some more olive oil and slice a large portabella into eight equal slices, for decoration. Saute these until lightly coloured on both sides. Reserve. In the processor, mix a cup of creme fraiche (or half a cup heavy cream, plus half a cup of sour cream) with a whole egg, an egg yolk, some chopped herbs (I used tarragaon, chives, parsley) and some grated parmesan, about a handful. Season well with black pepper ONLY. Blend the mixture for a few seconds. (*For a devilishly decadent tart, add a teaspoon of truffle pate, or, if you're filthy rich, some freshly shaved truffle.) Dump the dried mushroom/onion/garlic mixture into the processor and blend for 2 seconds. You want to have some texture left in the mushrooms, so don't overdo it. Pour the mixture into the tart case, and bake at 450 F for about 18 minutes, or until mixture is almost set. Remoce from the oven and press the large cooked slices of mushroom on to the surface of the art in whatever pattern you want. Press them into the mixture so the top is even all over. Bake for another 2-3 mins, then remove and cool for another 20. Slice carefully with a razor-sharp knife.

I ate mine with a green salad of arugula and mache and Good Lord, it really was stunning. I could convert fungi-phobes with this stuff.

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