Timing is everything. Sunday morning, my 7-month pregnant best friend (bless her) called me from her weekly supermarket trip while I was washing the mushrooms and scrubbing the Yukon Gold’s from this week’s CSA share. I was a little distraught as mushrooms aren’t my favorite vegetable, J won’t go near them (not even on top of a burger), and I was two pounds deep. Recipe inspiration was thin.
I detailed my mushroom dilemma and, at first, as a good friend should, she empathized. Doesn’t like the texture. Next, as a good friend should, she offered a reasonable solution. An avid cooker herself who excels at brunch fare, she suggested a recipe for a blue cheese and mushroom tart from Barefoot Contessa. I had frozen pastry crust in the freezer so I thought now was the perfect time to use it (forgive me for not preparing from scratch but short-cuts in the kitchen can be a great friend, too). Finally, she closed the loop on the decision tree by proposing a location for consumption: lunch. I could wrap up the leftovers and swap out my standard salad for a slightly fussier creation.
And fussier it was. I forwent the Barefoot Contessa recipe for another from the Food Network for a Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart. If I had really thought it through before diving into the onion, mushroom and crust preparation, I probably would have opted for a simplified version involving a round foil cake pan and some PAM. Instead, after carefully slicing the onion and 16 mushrooms, I prepared the dough as stated in the recipe – trimmed the edges, brushed on the egg wash, and reattached diligently to form a protective perimeter for the cheesy-egg mixture. And the Food Network rates this recipe as “Easy.” Ha. This is why our brunch often involves a menu and a waiter.
Regardless, I thought what better way to fill a rainy Sunday afternoon. I used the Raw Milk Cheddar Goat Cheese from Apple Tree Goat Dairy in Richfield, PA, acquired at the Natural Meadow Farms stand at the Piazza Farmers Market. The Greensgrow CSA share this week provided me with cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs from Sandy Ridge Farm in Elizabethtown, PA, and mushrooms from Bo-Ka Specialties in Kennett Square. And I still had an onion or two from Landisdale Farm lying around. Did I mention I love caramelized onions?
A tart is a great vehicle for mushrooms, or any vegetable for that matter. The combination of eggs, cheese and sweet onions on a flaky, tender crust is sure to solve any mushroom dilemma. And when all else fails, there’s always a best friend to empathize.
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart
From the Food Network web site
Makes two 5″ x 14″ tarts
- 1 large sweet onion
- 16 medium shiitake mushrooms (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (4-ounce) package puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions
- 3 eggs, divided
- 8 ounces goat cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (original recipe calls for fresh thyme)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a mandolin or super-sharp knife, cut onion into paper-thin slices. Clean and slice the mushrooms.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat; add onion and saute until caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until they release all their liquid and most of it boils away, should take about 5 minutes.
- Combine caramelized onions with mushrooms and saute together briefly; season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from heat.
- Unfold puff pastry onto a floured surface; cut in half lengthwise to form 2 long rectangles. Gently roll out each rectangle to approximately 5 by 14 inches and place on cookie sheet. Trim edges by 1/4-inch strips all around; set strips aside.
- Break 1 egg into a small bowl; beat slightly. Brush edges of pastry with some of the egg. Use trimmed strips to make a raised border on each. Brush entire surface with remaining beaten egg. Prick the interior of pastry all over with a fork.
- Bake until pale gold, about 10 minutes. If pastry has puffed up inside edge, press it down gently. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine remaining eggs with 6 ounces goat cheese and blend until smooth. Spread the mixture onto pastry. (I had more than enough mixture for the two tarts!)
- Return to oven and bake just until set, about 4 minutes.
- Add the thyme to the mushroom mixture. Remove cookie sheet from oven and spread with thyme-mushroom mixture.
- Crumble remaining cheese on top. Just before serving, broil tarts on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until tarts are warm and cheese softens.