Last Saturday, I had big plans. First, it was off to the Farmer’s Market in search of fruit, and then I was going to fire up the outdoor canning station and make jar after jar of plum butter and peach basil jam.
But when I got there, the only peaches were already in jars — they’d sold out of fresh peaches within 15 minutes of the market opening. And what’s worse, the farmer told me that the late spring blizzards this year killed off all their cherry and plum blossoms. On the bright side, they still have peaches and I like them better in August anyway, when there are freestone peaches instead of cling.
Still, the thought of a year with no plum butter followed me around the market like a little black raincloud. That is, until I spotted the sign for Hazel Dell Mushrooms. They were pretty picked over too, having already sold out of their lion’s mane (my favorite), but they still had some shiitake and oyster mushrooms left. A quick stop to grab some Haystack Mountain goat cheese, and I was on my way home with an idea already starting to take shape in my head.
Every once in a while, I get really lucky. I’ll come up with some half-baked plan, and it turns out exactly as I imagined it on the first run. This is rare, though it happens slightly more often now that I’ve had more practice in the kitchen and have learned from my previous disasters (luck favors the prepared mind, right?).
But if I happen to be working with expensive ingredients in short supply, my experiments are pretty much guaranteed to flop the first time. It’s Murphy’s Law.
So you’ll imagine my surprise when this tart, basically a savory mushroom cheesecake, turned out almost exactly as I envisioned it. I cobbled it together from bits and pieces of various recipes, and for once ended up with a great result on my first test run. It may just be my favorite thing I’ve ever invented, but I’ll probably need to make it again next weekend just to be sure.
Rich and flaky, with a silky layer of goat cheese underneath, this mushroom tart is even better the next morning alongside a green salad and some scrambled eggs.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into cubes
- 4-5 tablespoons ice water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 pound fresh oyster mushrooms
- 1/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons minced white onion
- 1 small clove garlic (or half of a large clove), minced
- 1 tightly-packed teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, removed from stem and chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 small handful fresh chives (to equal about 2 tablespoons minced)
- 5 ounces fresh chèvre or other soft mild goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 large egg (I used 2 medium)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- A 9" fluted tart pan with removable bottom
- Combine flour, salt, and butter and mix with a dough cutter until the lumps of butter are pea-sized (you can also pulse it in a food processor)
- Dribble ice water across the top, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. Shape it into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least an hour while you make the filling.
- Whisk together goat cheese, eggs, and cream in a large bowl and stir in chives. Set aside.
- Chop mushrooms (I left a few larger slices of shiitake for decoration)
- Heat butter in a large heavy skillet and add onions and mushrooms, cooking over low-medium heat until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and are mostly dry. Add sherry, thyme, and garlic, and cook a few minutes longer until the liquid is absorbed and remove from heat. Set aside.
- Preheat over to 375F
- Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Try to get it about 1/8" thin, and don't worry too much if it cracks at the edges -- you'll have plenty of overhang and some leftover dough.
- Gently drape dough across your tart pan and tamp down the bottom edges and sides. Leave a section of dough hanging over the pan if you can (I forgot) to reinforce the edge, as the dough will shrink a bit.
- Use a fork to prick holes all over the bottom of your tart shell, this keeps it from puffing up when it bakes.
- Pour goat cheese mixture into the tart shell and bake until set, about 6 minutes. Carefully spread mushrooms across the top and bake until the edges of the shell are golden brown, about 35-45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then move to a rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature.