Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saturday Breakfast: Mushroom, Leek and Gruyère Tart

It was my cooking compadre's idea to make the mushroom tart for brunch. She looked at a few recipes and had an idea of what it should be like: very mushroom forward (no eggs - we didn't want a quiche) with a nutty cheese. Both of us feel strongly that leeks are the right choice. They have such a buttery flavor, are ‘brighter’ than onions or shallots and they are a perfect taste companion to the mushrooms and the cheese. As we made it we collaborated on how it tasted - whether we should use ricotta or cream to bind the filling. We disagreed on herbs - I wanted to add thyme and she did not so we went without. She had an idea of what it should taste like and we went with it. I did add thyme as an optional ingredient.

This is the sentence where I whine about forgetting to bring my camera and having to take pictures with my ancient Blackberry...
The only thing that I think we both would change is that we used a press-in tart crust - one she has used before and likes a lot (I do too!). It just didn't have enough structure for the filling which was not heavy, but relatively dry. Oh well, adventures in baking! The tart was delicious and we will definitely make it again.

RECIPE: MUSHROOM, LEEK & GRUYÈRE TART
Makes: 1 9" tart
Equipment: 1 9" tart pan with fluted edges and a removable bottom
Mushrooms: We used 1 pound (combined) of portabella and shitakes. We love this combination. After cleaning and removing the stems, I sliced the shitakes (about 1/3" slices) and cut the portabellas into appoximately 1" x .5" pieces. Mushroom shrink a great deal when cooked and you don't want to be left with something that looks like duxelles.

Crust
Pie, tart or puff pastry for a 9" tart pan, par baked as per instructions for whatever crust you choose. If you read the head notes of this post, you'll see that we don't recommend a press-in crust.

Filling

  • 2-3 cups leeks (white and light green parts) washed, cut in half lengthwise and sliced.
  • 2 medium-large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 lb mushrooms* (See the head notes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  •  1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater, set aside 1/4 cup of the cheese.
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450F, rack in the middle.

Preparation

  • In a large skillet, heat about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and season with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Sauté the leeks until they are tender and a little browned on some of the edges. Clear a spot in the skillet and sauté the garlic until it becomes the color of straw. Combine the leeks and garlic and season with a few grinds of black pepper. Remove them to a bowl. Make sure you clear all of the leek mixture from the pan.
  • Add another couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, let it start to shimmer and add the mushrooms, season with a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and toss them quickly. Turn the heat to high and continue to toss the mushroom pieces until they start losing some of their liquid. Use a wooden spatula to scrape up any fond in the pan. You want to cook the mushrooms on as high a heat as you can to cook off all of the liquid and start browning them. When most of the mushrooms have some browning and there is no extraneous liquid in the pan, add the white wine and cook until that has disappeared. Take the pan off the heat and add back the leek mixture. Mix in the ricotta a spoonful at a time. The amount you use should coat the mushroom-leek mixture. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature. 
  • Add 3/4 of a cup of the grated Gruyère cheese and combine. If you are adding the thyme, do it now and combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. 
  • When the mushroom-leek-cheese mixture has cooled to room temperature, scrape it in the pre-baked tart shell and smooth out the top, but don't mash it down. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the cheese over the top. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and slide it into the pre-heated oven on the middle rack.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and check. The mixture should be heated thoroughly and the cheese melted. If not, check it every 5 minutes. When done, remove the baking sheet and tart from the oven and put the tart pan on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

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