Another recipe from Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig? Absolutely! This book was one of the biggest surprises that we’ve had over the last couple of months (at least when it comes to cooking books). When we first saw the title, we debated: a Jewish cookbook, what would that have that would be interesting to us? We (wrongly) thought that it would be full of heavy dishes or perhaps everything would involve gefilte fish and matzo balls, or something. We just didn’t know. Instead, it’s crammed with great- sounding recipes, all of which seemed to appeal to our tastes (and probably yours, too). So much so, that we think it should be titled something along the lines of Modern Cooking (Oh, and by the Way, the Recipes are Kosher, Too).
Of course, we really should’ve known better. After all, with thousands of years of sustained traditions that seem to revolve around food and family, we sort of knew, somewhere in the back of our minds, that there would be some really, really good home-style food. The kind perfect for scratchers such as we are. And, being scratchers, we did change the recipe a bit to suit our tastes and what we had available.
The recipe called for puff pastry, and suggested the frozen kind from a box. That won’t cut it for us, so we spent 20 minutes, making up a quick puff pastry. It’s pretty easy and is almost as good as puff pastry, but, when you make this, you can use either. For the goat cheese, make sure to get one you like the taste of, as goat cheese can taste, well, goat-y. We like the cheese from Black Mesa Ranch, which has the added advantage of having well- treated goats (we met them during an open house one year). The original recipe called for shallots, and they would be wonderful, but, we had leftover I’itoi onions (a local green onion) to use up, so we pulled a switcheroo.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. If you don’t have either, lightly oil your baking sheet.
Sauté onions. Heat about 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Swirl it around a couple of times to coat the pan, and, when the butter gets foamy, add the onions. Give them a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tender. For our little onions, it took about 5 minutes.
Sauté mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the onions, along with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. The salt will help release the liquid, which you want to cook away so your tart isn’t soggy. Let the mushrooms cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has been released and cooked off. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring very often, until fragrant, about another minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
Mix cheese. In a small bowl, use the back of a spoon to mash and mix the cheese, egg, heavy cream, and thyme. Keep mixing until it’s smooth and uniform in texture. It should be like a cheese spread — if it’s crumbly, add a bit more cream and mix in.
Roll pastry. We found it easiest just to roll out our quick puff pastry right on the silicon baking mat, and we rolled it out to cover pretty much the entire thing. Since it’s still very warm here in Tucson, it was a bit difficult to handle, but we did the best we could. Do the same.
Layer. Spread the cheese mixture over the pastry crust in an even layer, leaving about 1/4 inch wide edge clear. This edge will allow you to tell when the pastry is done, again avoiding a soggy tart. After the cheese mixture, spread the mushroom mixture across, trying for an even layer.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until the pastry is golden brown and nicely puffed, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve immediately.
We loved this tart; it was nice and savory, and made a great main for our dinner. It was full of flavor, and, we can also see switching up the mushrooms, and even the cheese, to keep it interesting and different. Plus, it was so easy to make. Basically, fry up onions and mushrooms and make up a crust. As an aside, consider it for small appetizers, just cut into small squares. So, for ease, taste, and versatility, five stars.