Serves 6 – 8
I love to serve this luscious tart for an easy, casual lunch accompanied by a crisp green salad. Perfect in Autumn when the mushrooms are at their best.
600g plain flour
1 cup fine parmesan cheese
480g butter, roughly chopped
4 large eggs
20g shitake mushrooms, sliced and rehydrated
1 large onion, finely chopped
10ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
10ml olive oil, more if necessary
20g butter, more if necessary
400g fresh assorted mushrooms, finely sliced; reserve one sliced mushroom for garnishing
2 tbsp chives finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Freshly cracked pepper
Juice of a lemon
4 large eggs
½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup cream or milk
100g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
26cm tart pan
For the pastry, place the flour, parmesan and butter into the bowl of the food processor and process turning the machine on and off, just until the mixture is crumbly and resembles fine bread crumbs; add the eggs and process again briefly until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the bowl. Stop immediately, remove and press together into a ball. Handle as little as possible; overworked pastry will not be tender. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
Meanwhile make the filling. Place the shitake mushrooms into a bowl, cover with boiling water and allow to soak and rehydrate for 30 minutes until soft. Strain, reserve some of the liquid and strain this again. You may add some of this to the tart or use later for another purpose.
Sauté the chopped onion in the oil and butter until translucent, do not brown. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, again without allowing the garlic to brown or burn. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add some of the oil and butter to the pan, enough to just cover the base, we do not want the mushrooms to stew. Set aside one sliced mushroom for the final garnish.
Cook the mushrooms in small batches until nicely browned and the there is no moisture in the bottom of the pan. Remove, set aside and repeat with the remaining mushrooms. Finally add the rehydrated mushrooms and lemon juice and cook for a few minutes. Return the onions, garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook for a few minutes with the fresh herbs and some more cracked pepper, mixing together well. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is dry. Set aside.
Remove the pastry and let it soften slightly at room temperature. Roll out gently into a large circle about 5cm larger than the tart pan to the thickness of a gold dollar coin, about 2mm.
Roll up the dough around the rolling pin, slide the pan under the pastry and then unroll it over the pan, draping it gently. With your fingertips, ease the dough into the pan, gently pressing it smooth over the bottom, without stretching it. It is sometimes a good idea to roll up a little of the left over dough into a small ball and use it to press the dough into the bottom and side of the pan; this prevents your fingers cutting into the dough. Trim the edge to remove excess pastry. Note, that when blind-baking pastry cases, some chefs think it best to leave the excess pastry hanging over the rim. Once the case is cooked, simply trim off the excess to give a neat, even finish. Pastry frequently shrinks when cooked. I think this is often difficult, as the pastry is brittle and have cut away and ,eave an untidy edge.
Dock the pastry base, that is prick with fork or with a pastry docker; this allows the steam to escape when blind baking. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C
Blind bake the pastry by lining the pastry with baking paper, covering the sides as well and fill with rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake for another 5 minutes until dry and crisp. Cool. Turn the oven down to 180ºC.
In a large jug, mix the eggs, cottage cheese, cream and 80g of the Parmigiano Reggiano and some cracked pepper. Check seasonings and adjust according to your taste. Set aside.
Spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the pastry base and place the raw sliced mushroom over the top. Carefully and slowly pour the egg and cream mixture over the mushrooms until the tart pan is almost full. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and cook for 40 – 45 minutes. Check after 20 minutes and cover with baking paper to prevent the top from browning too much. Check to see if the egg mixture is set before removing from the oven.
Allow to cool for 3 – 5 minutes and serve with a crisp green salad.