I have sung the praises of The East End Mushroom Company more than once. I have the greatest affection for Jane Maguire and John Quigley who have put heart and soul into their company. They now offer shiitake, maitake and blue oyster mushrooms grown right in their ‘farm’ in Cutchogue, NY. And they very often ‘import’ other seasonal varieties for the “Mushroom Capital of the World”, Kennett Square, PA. These include more exotics like Velvet Pioppinis, White/Brown Beeches, along with more familiar Creminis and Portobellos. Their mushrooms are so good, I constantly keep an eye out for any recipe requiring mushrooms just so I can use them. Now they’ve started selling dried mushrooms. Go to their website, www.theeastendmushroomcompany.com and see how you can buy their mushrooms. They make a great gift for all the cooks on your list. Or save them for yourself. Then you can come home and make this tart, of my own invention, I am happy to say, with their terrific mushrooms. Wild Mushroom, Cheese and Sausage Tart. You can cut the finished in quarters and serve it for lunch or a light supper. Or you can cut it into two-inch squares and make a perfect hors d’oeuvre for holiday entertaining.
Mushrooms that are grown, as opposed to foraged, have one enormous advantage over their wild cousins. They require little or no cleaning, an arduous task usually done with a soft brush. For years, conventional wisdom said not to wash mushrooms because they would take on additional moisture. But mushrooms themselves are 80 percent water already so their ability to absorb more came into question. Now it’s believed it’s perfectly fine to give them a quick bath and then a spin in a salad spinner before you cut them. But never bathe cut mushrooms because nothing will turn them slimy faster.
For this recipe, I first removed the sausage from its casing and broke it up as I put it into 12 inch non-stick skillet. I made the mushroom sauté separately then tossed the sausage and mushrooms together. The puff pastry should be defrosted per the instructions. It usually takes 35 minutes. If you defrost any longer, it’s hard to manipulate the dough. (I found out the hard way). The dough has to be pre-cooked or the base will not rise and you’ll have a soggy-bottomed tart. Then it’s a matter of spreading the mushroom sausage over the partially cooked dough, sending it back into the oven and finally, in the last couple of minutes, spreading the grated cheese over the top of the mixture. Here is the recipe:
Recipe for Wild Mushroom, Cheese and Sausage Tart
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and sliced or
chopped, to yield 5-1/2 to 6 cups
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 Tbs. heavy cream
Additional chopped herbs, such as thyme, sage, and/or chives (optional)
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, defrosted.
6 sweet Italian sausages, removed from their casing and broken up into bite-sized pieces.
1 cup Cheddar, Fontina or any good melting cheese.
1. Forty minutes before serving, take a sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer and defrost it.
2. Put the sausage in a 12 inch nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat until all signs of pink are gone and the sausage is beginning to brown. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil and butter in a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over medium heat until the butter foams. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Like sponges, the mushrooms will immediately absorb all the fat in the pan. Sprinkle with the salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the mushrooms start to release their moisture and begin to shrink, 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high so that you hear a steady sizzle; stir occasionally. In about 5 minutes, when the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms start to brown, give just an occasional sweep with the spoon (about once a minute) to allow the mushrooms to brown nicely, cooking them another 2 to 4 minutes. Resist the inclination to stir too often. Turn off the heat and toss the mushrooms with the parsley and pepper to taste, adding more salt if needed. Stir in a few tablespoons cream to moisten the mushrooms and to deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan into the mushroom mixture. Add other herbs if you like. Add the cooked sausage. Set mixture aside. Mixture can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Next, assemble the tart:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lightly flour a wooden cutting board. Place the dough on the cutting board and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
Fold ½ inch of the dough onto itself to form “walls”. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the sides of the pastry. Use a fork and ‘stab’ the pastry bottom all over. Put the pastry in the oven for 10-15 minutes until it puffs up.
3. Remove the pastry and distribute the mushroom sausage evenly all over the tart shell.
4. Then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Return the puff pastry the oven for another 20 – 25 minutes. Serve.