I recently hosted bookclub at my house and I have to admit I’m always excited about putting together the menu. My bookclub is the most fantastic group of gals that have been noshing, sipping and gabbing since 2009-that’s almost EIGHT years now! We do always discuss the book at some point during the night (if only to validate our name as a book club for our significant others) but first we dig into the spread provided by the hostess with the mostess. This time around while hosting, I wanted to create some food that could be appreciated by my vegan friend (hi Kata!) and that’s the beginning of these Vegan Mushroom Pesto Tartlets….
Many years ago, I was overwhelmed with a stressful full time job, raising two kids and trying to appear that I had it all together (To be completely honest this may have not been so many years ago, or even so many months ago, in fact this may still describe my life today…but I digress). I was starting to find my way in the kitchen and was starting to read different food blogs. One in particular, Smitten Kitchen, spoke to me. I love Deb Perelman and her witty prose and her tiny kitchen in New York City. Her writing makes you feel like you are drinking coffee at her table while she is cooking for you. And at that time in my life, I was particularly in need of this. (Thanks Deb!)
So when a Facebook group I am a part of suggested we do a Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Challenge, I was all in. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, correct? The challenge was designed to go chapter by chapter. One person (and sometimes more than one) would make a recipe and review it, and we would continue on until every recipe in the chapter was completed. This sounded right up my alley. Mushroom Tart? Game on.
Due to my vacation, I entered in round 3 (Sandwiches, tarts and pizza) with the Mushroom Tart. I chose this partially because I really love tarts, partially because I really love mushrooms, and mostly because I knew no one else in my mushroom adverse house would even try this-so I’d have it all to myself (yay! leftovers!). And what a great choice it was! Shallots and mushrooms combined with marscapone, fontina and parmesan to form a hearty filling. Cornmeal in the crust gives the crust dimension. I happen to love herbs, so I added rosemary, because I personally think everything should contain rosemary.
I served this Mushroom Tart with a simple arugula salad, lightly dressed with Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar Reduction from Queen Creek Olive Mill (if you haven’t checked out this family owned olive farm in Arizona, you need to!). Not only was it a great dinner, it was a great lunch (for the WHOLE next week).
Don’t be put off by all of the steps, many can be done somewhat simultaneously. A few tips: slice the mushrooms small enough to be bite size, if you like herbs, feel free to use slightly more thyme AND rosemary, and if you haven’t checked out Smitten Kitchen-do so now!
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced + a smidge extra for greasing the foil
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 shallots, sliced thin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ pound (225g) cremini mushrooms sliced into bite site pieces
- 1 pound (455g) assorted mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, more cremini) sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup grated fontina cheese (Can substitute provolone)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- TO MAKE THE CRUST (TART SHELL):
- Place flour, cornmeal, and salt into the bowl of your food processor and then pulse to combine.
- Add the chilled butter and pulse until butter is in small bits.
- Add the egg and pulse until dough clumps.
- Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on a clean counter.
- Place dough on plastic wrap and cover with an additional piece of plastic wrap.
- Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to a 12 inch circle.
- Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and invert the crust over a 9-inch tart pan.
- Use your fingers to push the crust against the corners and sides of the pan.
- Put the tart pan on top of a baking sheet, and place the pan into the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF.
- Remove the tart shell from the freezer. (keep on the baking pan)
- Grease one side of a 12 inch piece of aluminum foil with butter.
- Press the foil, butter side down, against the crust.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove foil (carefully!) and bake for another 8-10 minutes until crust is golden.
- Remove tart shell from the oven to a cooling rack.
- Turn oven down to 350ºF.
- TO MAKE THE FILLING:
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan.
- Add the shallots and sauté over medium heat until soft, approximately 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
- Add the mushrooms, thyme and rosemary.
- Although it seems that all of these mushrooms won't fit, don't worry, if you keep stirring, the very large volume of mushrooms will be quickly reduced!
- Saute the mushrooms over high heat until tender and the released liquid has evaporated, approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper and stir.
- Allow mushrooms to cool.
- In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone and milk, whisking until smooth.
- Whisk in the eggs and then add the fontina and parmesan.
- Finally, add the mushrooms and stir to combine.
- TO MAKE THE TART:
- Place tart shell back onto baking pan.
- Add the filling to the tart shell.
- If you haven't already turned the oven down to 350ºF, do so now.
- Bake for 25-40 minutes until golden and the custard is set.
- Cool the tart on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- Slice and serve.
I think I’ve previously mentioned my trip to the Apple House, where I bought too many apples (Is too many apples even a thing?). Although I made this fabulous Autumn Apple Crisp, which my family devoured, I also wanted to make something a bit more elegant. I’ve been on a tart kick lately-Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart, Raspberry Cream Cheese Tart, and I’ve found them not only easy to make, but also visually pleasing. Since I had just made Salted Caramel Sauce, and had so many apples, it seemed like a match made in heaven to create this Salted Caramel Apple Tart!…
Holly and I were recently tasked with providing the dessert course of a girls’ night dinner hosted by a good friend. As you can imagine, we agonized over what to make. Should we do individual desserts? Ice cream? (I just got an ice cream maker-stay tuned) Cookies? So many fabulous choices! Ultimately we decided on tarts. Holly did an amazing chocolate peanut butter tart that I hope she will share with us here soon. To balance things, I decided to do fruit tarts. I guess it was a good call, because I’ve had several requests for the Blueberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart recipe…so here’s to you gals!…