Something always goes wrong when I make pâte brisée — either the dough is too wet (and it sticks), or too dry (and it cracks), or it shrinks in its pan when I blind bake it, and I find myself frustrated, sweaty, starving and ready to beat my oven with my French rolling pin. So when Mardi Michels from the lovely blog eat. live. travel. write. proposed a rustic mushroom tart for Tuesday dinner, I was skeptical.
Mardi, however, is a very persuasive lady. “I’ve been inspired by my recent trip to France to start making a lot more things I used to consider scary from scratch, like bread or pastry,” she says. “Pastry isn’t scary and it just tastes so much better than store bought.”
A blogger, Food Network Canada contributor, full-time French teacher to elementary school boys (and more), Mardi knows a lot about making complicated things simple. As part of her job, she runs a biweekly cooking class for boys aged nine to twelve, called Les Petits Chefs. When I found out these boys had made their own pastry and savory tarts, I knew I had to try it, too.
“One myth about pastry is that it takes time — yet I’ve found a dough that works for me (for both sweet and savoury tarts or galettes) — even on a weeknight,” says Mardi. “Since it takes just a couple of minutes to whip up the pastry, then it sits for 30 minutes in the fridge, you have plenty of time to prepare the filling while it rests. Then, if you choose to make smaller tartelettes instead of one big galette or tart, they only take about 30 minutes to cook.
“A Tuesday night at my house, if we’re lucky, doesn’t involve any sort of event outside the house. Mondays and Wednesdays for me are cooking club nights so I tend to get home later, then spend a while editing pictures and writing up the sessions for my blog and the school blog. Tuesdays are a night I try not to plan much if I can help it so I do try to make something half-decent for dinner (towards the end of the week, our dinners can deteriorate a little as energy wanes!). Honestly, on the weekend days I spent most of my day on my feet cooking, photographing so on those days I am more than happy to eat something simple for dinner.
“I am loving rustic galettes right now – simple enough for everyday but elegant enough that you can serve them to company. So versatile too in terms of the filling. I even taught a version to my Petits Chefs boys’ cooking club with great success! If 9-12 year-olds can make pastry, well, anyone can! A favorite for the fall right now would be this rustic mushroom quiche.”
Rustic mushroom quiche
From Mardi Michels
Note from Ann: I was skeptical about the “ease” of pastry, so I timed myself while making it. It took 13 minutes 36 seconds to make the dough by hand, and just over 5 minutes to roll it out. Unfortunately, my quiche cooked a bit unevenly, perhaps because of a patchy oven, or maybe because I used a ceramic dish instead of metal pie tin. Next time I might line a tart pan with the dough, blind bake, and then fill the shell.
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cornmeal
pinch of salt
125 grams (1 stick) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
3 cups mixed fresh mushrooms (I used baby bella and shiitake)
4 tablespoons olive oil (I used one)
2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence (or thyme)
Salt and pepper
5 eggs, lightly whisked (I used three)
1 egg beaten for egg wash
For the pastry:
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the cornmeal and salt and mix lightly with your fingers.
3. Add the cubed butter and, using your fingers, lightly rub in the butter to the flour/ cornmeal/ salt until is resembles breadcrumbs with some pieces the size of small peas.
4. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix and add the egg.
5. Mix the flour into the wet ingredients until it just starts to come together.
6. Add the water and incorporate until the dough just comes together. The dough should be firm enough to form a ball – it might be a little crumbly but press the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum.
For the mushrooms:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the mushrooms and herbes de Provence and saute until they have significantly reduced in volume (there should be around 1.5 cups once they are cooked).
3. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Set aside.
1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚F.
2. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll between parchment or wax paper or onto a lightly floured surface until it’s about 12-13 inches in diameter.
3. Carefully place the pastry disk on a sheet of parchment if it already isn’t and place in a 10 inch pie tin. The parchment will stick out beyond the tin edges, that’s ok. The pie tin is just to make sure the quiche holds a circular shape!
4. Scatter the mushrooms over the centre of the pastry, leaving about 2-3 inches at the edge.
5. Fold the uncovered edges of dough up and around the filling, working your way around the quiche. You’ll end up with pleated edges that are a little rough and you might need to trim some uneven parts to ensure you don’t end up with a thick area of just crust.
6. Pour the beaten eggs over the mushrooms, making sure it does not “escape the pastry”.
7. Brush the edges of the quiche with a little egg wash.
8. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the inside is set.
(Top four photos courtesy of Mardi Michels.)