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Botanical Mushroom Tart

Botanical Mushroom Tart
Serves 6
"In autumn, just as soon as the mushrooms start popping up throughout our woods and the cool, crisp air is filled with chimney smoke from aged oak," says Maryjo Koch, "I notice mushroom foragers with baskets or burlap sacks scurrying around the woods looking for their favorite wild mushrooms. Our town celebrates the arrival of mushroom season with an annual mushroom festival.
"Mushrooms are always favorites botanical subjects in my painting classes. We study books of botanical styles of the Old Masters for inspiration and students are served this mushroom tart filled with smoky mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses for our class lunch. My daughter Sunny artfully arranges woodsy mushrooms and fennel fronds from the garden on the surface of the tart to resemble an antique botanical print, a case of life imitating art.
"To create your own botanical mushroom tart, practice arranging your pan-browned mushrooms on a paper towel cut to the same size as your tart pan. Add fennel fronds in between the mushrooms until you find an arrangement that you like. Transfer your design to the partially baked tart and return it to the oven." - The Artist, the Cook, and the Gardener
  1. 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  2. ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  3. ½ cup (4 ounces / 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  4. 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  1. 4 eggs
  2. ¾ cup heavy cream
  3. 2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
  4. 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  5. 4 ounces assorted fresh wild mushrooms (such as shiitake, chanterelle, and nameko)
  6. Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  7. Several sprigs of fresh fennel fronds
  1. FOR THE PASTRY: Process the flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the processor running, pour the ice water through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream and process just until the dough begins to hold together. Remove the dough from the food processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 10- by 13-inch rectangle, ½--inch thick. Gently lay the dough into an 8- by 11-inch rectangle tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the dough into the bottom and up the sides. Run a rolling pin across the top of the pan to trim off excess dough. Place the tart pan in the freezer and chill for 10 minutes. Remove from the freezer and prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork. Line the shell with the parchment paper or aluminum foil and weight it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil or paper, and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. FOR THE FILLING: Whisk the eggs and cream together and stir in the cheeses. Pour into the cooled tart shell and return to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until almost set.
  4. Slice the chanterelles and some of the shiitakes in half lengthwise and brush with a little olive oil. Heat a skillet on the stovetop over high heat and cook all the mushrooms except namekos for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the edges start to brown slightly. Gently transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  5. Remove the tart from the oven and carefully arrange the mushrooms and fennel fronds on top to resemble a botanical print. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 10 minutes longer, until the filling is fully set and golden. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then cut into equal portions and serve.
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culture: the word on cheese

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