Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seasonal 'Shrooms

You would think that the idea of spring would be thrilling enough in the upper Midwest. Warmer, longer days, lack of snow, green grass and lilacs are like paradise after the long, cold winter. But then comes the food-lover’s gift of spring, the morel mushroom, with its elusive nature and delicate floral and nutty flavor.

I don’t know much about the morel or foraging for it, so I let the experts do that for me (a good idea when it comes to wild mushrooms of any kind.) They’ve been available for the last few weeks and, while I’d only eaten them once or twice before this year, I was determined not to let this limited-time opportunity pass me by in 2010.

When I bought the most recent bunch, I couldn’t find much in the stores to accompany them that was fresh and local. Thinking they’re probably best appreciated on their own anyway, I raided my recipe stash (it’s actually catalogued, at least partially, in a database, so it was a less messy process than it sounds.) A single recipe presented itself and since I had all the necessary ingredients on hand, I pounced upon it.

The recipe was for some fancy little appetizer tarts with a morel and sour cream filling. I adapted it for the amount of mushrooms I had and the amount of effort I was willing to make. In short, I made and easy free-form tart or galette with a simple filling and a delicious crust that is so easy to make, it might just become my go-to pastry. If you have a heavy-duty mixer, this crust takes just minutes to put together. It bakes up tender and flaky and flavorful. All I did to change it was bump up its WFQ* by swapping in some whole wheat pastry flour. Where have you been all my life, little crust? Buried in an overwhelming file of untested recipes, you say? My apologies.

I won’t apologize for getting excited about this dish, though. I might not be able to make it again until those ‘shrooms are back in season, but that multi-purpose pastry will be back in the kitchen sooner than that. Hmm….and the CSA deliveries begin next Tuesday…so many things to be excited about!

Easy Cream Cheese Pastry
Adapted from a recipe in Midwest Living Magazine

If you don’t have whole wheat pastry flour, you can use regular all-purpose flour in its place.

4 ounces cream cheese (I used the 1/3-less fat variety), at room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour

1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Beat at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. (You may also be able to mix this crust together by hand. I haven’t tried it.)

2. Add the whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour. Beat on low speed until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture comes together into a moist ball.

3. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

Makes enough dough for one 8-10 inch tart or galette

Morel Mushroom Galette with Cream Cheese Pastry
Based on a recipe in Midwest Living Magazine

2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped onion
4 ounces fresh morel mushrooms, very well cleaned and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or vegetable broth)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 recipe Easy Cream Cheese Pastry (see above), chilled
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
1-2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a medium sized skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and just beginning to brown, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms and wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, flour, salt and thyme. Stir well.

4. Stir the sour cream mixture into the mushroom mixture and set aside.

5. On a floured surface, roll the Easy Cream Cheese Pastry into a 12-inch circle (or close to it, no need to be exact.) Carefully transfer the dough to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (or you can brush it with oil.)

6. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the center of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry up over the filling. Brush with the egg mixture if desired.

7. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parmesan if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

WFQ: Whole Food Quotient

One year ago: Baguette

1 comment:

  1. I've already got plans for the next recipe using this pastry!