Pondering the Fungi – Shiitake and Crimini Mushroom Cheese Crust Pie

Looking through the latest issue of Donna Hay magazine while pondering what to eat for dinner I turned a page and beheld the most fabulous photographs of savory pies, crusty quiches, deep dish tarts…whatever you want to call them…and knew exactly what we would be having for dinner. A quick trip to the market and a couple of hours, and much pondering later, our Shiitake-Crimini Mushroom-Cheese Crust Pie was in the oven.

While I was taking photographs of the mushrooms and later while the pie was baking I spent some time pondering nature and how fantastic it is that we have environments where these little, almost precious looking, edible fungi thrive.  Relaxing musings.

This  led to me pondering about what would make any foolish person or persons in charge of overseeing the balance of our natural world want to change, damage or undo environmental policies that protect such environments. Anxious thoughts.

This line of thinking led me to reading about the world of mushrooms. I needed a diversion from the political path I was going down while  waiting for my pie to bake.  I was pretty happy to learn how adaptable they are to multiple and risky environments. Fungi can adapt in amazing ways to changes in the earth and still thrive. Happy ponderings.

Which led me to realize we humans are not in any adaptable league with fungi.  Sad thought.

The last 10 minutes of bake time I spent writing a note or two to a few congressman and the White House about their recent disregard for the environment, fungi and life on earth as we know it.  Hopeful Act.

Pie ponderings. No matter how much I cook I still learn new “tricks” that make so much cooking sense.  Such is the making of this crust. Once the springform pan is prepped and the cheese dough is well-chilled I grated it into and over the bottom. It’s so much easier to press down and up the sides. Grating the chilled dough also created a finished baked pie with a ruggedly ragged crust that is very striking. Thank you Donna Hay.

It looks a lot like fresh pasta doesn’t it?

Sauted mushrooms, Gruyère shredded, eggs, cream, fresh thyme leaves fill the crust……

….to be baked to a toasty brown perfection.

This is one of the best things I have made in a while. Crisp crust, velvety filling with the earthy mushrooms and the sharpness of Gruyère cheese. After all that pondering so very satisfying with a salad and glass of wine. Delicious thoughts.

Shiitake and Crimini Mushroom Cheese Crust Pie

                        

Ingredients for crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon salt mixed in
  • 1 1/2 cups cold butter chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded aged white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg
  • a few tablespoon cold water if needed
  • parchment paper cut to fit 9″springform pan
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter for springform pan
  • a smear of Dijon mustard for the baked crust

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt & 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound mixed shiitake and crimini mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1 cup heavy cream, warmed in the microwave
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (divided)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Directions for crust:

  1. Place all ingredients except for the ice water in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Remove lid and using fingers test dough to see if it will hold together. If not, replace processor lid and drizzle in, by tablespoons, cold water until dough starts to hold together. It can still be loose and slaggy.
  2. Dump dough onto a flat work surface and form into a firm ball. Cover with plastic and chill for 1 hour. (This could be done the day before just as well.)
  3. When ready to make pie preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. Place in pan and butter paper.
  5. Grate well-chilled dough over the bottom of the pan evenly. Press in bottom and up sides of pan halfway leaving an uneven somewhat ragged edge.
  6. Line dough with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, fill with pie weights or beans and bake for 25 minutes on a large sheet tray.
  7. Remove the paper and weights and cook for another 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Turn heat to 325.
  8. While crust is cooking saute onion and garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat until onions are softened. Remove and set aside.
  9. Melt butter in same skillet and add mushrooms. Saute until lightly browned stirring often. Remove from heat.
  10. Slowly add the warm cream to the eggs, whisking as you add. Stir in half of the Gruyère cheese and thyme leaves. Add the cooked onion mixture.
  11. Smear the Dijon mustard over the bottom of the baked crust. Sprinkle mushroom over the crust. Gently pour the egg cheese mixture over the mushrooms. Sprinkle remainder of Gruyère and additional thyme if you like over the top.
  12. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, on a sheet pan, or until the center is set and pie is golden brown and puffy. Remove to a wire cooling rack for 30 minutes to cool before cutting. Serve cut into wedges to serve 4 or 6.

Adapted from a recipe from Donna Hay magazine.

Romanesco Cauliflower Soup Dressed with Za’atar

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Late last year…December to be exact….I was pushing my cart through Whole Foods shopping for a photo shoot. There is always a sense of urgency about this type of grocery store foray…time is of the essence…the quicker I get this done, and done well, the sooner I can be finished for the day….when out of the corner of my eye, while rolling out of produce toward seafood, I saw a display of stunning chartreuse Romanesco Cauliflowers. The brakes went on…I backed up…I was once again entranced by a vegetable! Such moments have often played out while I am shopping for one thing when I totally become obsessed by another thing…usually as in this case the exotic, the beautiful and the artful.

Looking more like an exotic creature of the sea than of terra firma these cauliflowers must make all others jealous. I call them the Cinderella of Cauliflowers!

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 I usually shy away from soups with lots of cream but for this soup just a splash was perfect.

Roasted Romanesco with garlic clove, shallots & olive oil to soften & bring out the flavor.

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I topped our bowls of soup off with another recent culinary love, Za’atar. This Middle Eastern spice mix is getting added to everything I cook these days. This little obsession began a few months ago while eating at one of my favorite Nashville restaurants, Epice. Among other dishes they add it to little bowls of dipping oil for the bread they serve. Then my friend Nancy Vienneau served roasted head of cauliflower with a generous dusting of Za’atar this past New Year’s Eve. Two delicious experiences with Za’atar in one month!

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Have you ever tasted Za’atar? It is at times a spice and a condiment. An earthy mixture of sumac berries, marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano, white sesame seeds & crunchy sea salt that is equally good smeared on a chicken or vegetables to roast. You can easily find it at most import groceries or, as I did, on-line.

A light sprinkle of Za’atar  & Gruyere Cheese…..

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Are you drawn to foods you have never cooked before? The exotic? Do you ever become obsessed with a comestible? What do you think this says about me…or you?

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Romanesco Cauliflower Dressed with Za'atar

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 head of Romanesco Cauliflower (or any other Cauliflower will be fine), cut into florets
  • 6 shallots, peeled & cut into pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Freshly ground black pepper & sea salt flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup cream or half & half
  • 2 Tbsp Za’atar (divided)
  • Shredded Gruyere Cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets, shallot pieces & garlic cloves on a large baking sheet pan.. Drizzle with olive oil & toss to coat. Sprinkle with black pepper & sea salt.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes or until florets are softened, but not browned. Remove pan from oven.
  4. Add roasted vegetables along with the chicken stock to a pot. Cook over medium high heat until vegetables are softened. Remove pan from heat & let mixture cool for about 20 minutes.
  5. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Put pureed mixture back into pan and reheat on low right before serving.
  6. Stir in 1 Tbsp of the  Za’atar while reheating soup.
  7. Add cream right before serving. Stir well. Remove from heat.
  8. To serve garnish each bowl with a light sprinkling of the remaining Za’atar & shredded Gruyere.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com         foodonfifth.com

 

“Beauregard & Stokes Sweet Potato Tian”

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              Recently I worked on a photo shoot  that called for “Purple Sweet Potatoes”? Luckily they were not hard to find & luckily there were a few left over from the shoot for me to bring home to Food on Fifth. I also happened to have a couple of  “Beauregard” sweet potatoes which are a deep orange-red inside purchased from my CSA, Fresh Harvest.

I love potatoes…any and all potatoes..but I do have a special adoration for the sometimes gnarly locally grown sweet potato in all it’s formations. Never uniform in shape or color, or size…these are the ones I am drawn to.

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Mashed together with butter…..a gratin with cream or milk….baked? I recently ran across a reference to a dish I was unfamiliar with….a “Tian”….it seems it can be both a shallow casserole type dish originating in Provence  as well as a recipe cooked in this type of dish. I realized I had just purchased a “tian the dish” in which I could bake the “tian recipe”!

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The turquoise tian…the purple & deep orange sweet potatoes…stunningly beautiful.

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Sliced…….

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…Tossed……

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…Arranged….

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…Baked.

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A Sweet Potato Tian

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients:

  • 2 orange sweet potatoes (yams, etc) mine were “Beauregard’s”
  • 2 purple sweet potatoes (Stokes Purple) or any other
  • 2 large or 4 small shallots sliced
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • fresh or dried thyme leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and pat dry the sweet potatoes. Peel using a vegetable peeler and trim ends flat. Slice each into “coins” about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Toss sweet potato slices in a large bowl with the olive oil, salt & pepper until well coated.
  4. In a “tian” (shallow earthenware casserole dish) scatter sliced shallots over the bottom and then alternate the slices of purple and red sweet potatoes..2 red, 2 purple and so on until the dish is filled.
  5. Scatter thyme leaves over all. Cover dish with a sheet of foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes covered. Uncover & sprinkle Cheddar & Gruyere over the top.
  7. Return to the oven, raising the temp to 400 degrees. Bake for about 20-30 more minutes until the potatoes are “knife” tender and the cheeses are melted and just a bit bubbly. Serve immediately or set aside and cover loosely with foil for up to 30 minutes.

Notes: This is a great lower calorie and fat dish than the typical “gratin” which usually has milk or cream,  and cheeses. Serve as a side dish or with a salad as an entrée.

Recipe by: Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth Blog 11/2014   teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

Sources:

Turquoise Tian Dish – Set of 3 “Anthropologie” online or in store ; Linen Napkin “Restoration Hardware” online; Silver Spoon “Gas Lamp Antique Mall, Nashville”; Brown Speckled Enamel “Nashville Flea Market”

 

 

“Roasted Root Vegetable Slab Pie in a Gluten-Free Corn Flour Crust”

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“Roasted Root Vegetable Slab Pie with a Gluten-free Corn Flour Crust”

Purple & deep red sweet potatoes, white parsnips, turnips shaded from lavender to white, onions of all sorts, beets from golden to deep purple, variegated fingerlings potatoes, tri-color carrots……..I am obsessed with the abundance piled gloriously in the farmer’s markets. They glow as the sun sets and I choose a few of each to roast for this pie.

One of the things I love about photographing food for my blog this time of year is the soft blue cast that seems to be ever-present. It reminds me of North Sea light or a bright snowy day.

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Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Cornflour was the base for this crispy crust. Some Gruyere shredded, softened herb goat cheese dollops & thyme leaves added to the mix. Very easy dough to make in the processor & simple to press into a baking sheet pan while the vegs are roasting.

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People often ask me if I do a lot of cooking at home. Although I am surrounded by food every day in my job as  a food stylist we still eat at home most nights. I cook very simple foods like this pie that can be eaten for a couple of nights with a change in the salad to accompany it. This is the sort of recipe I make on a Saturday or Sunday for supper. Easy & quick using fresh vegetables with a bit of cheese baked in a very simple crust. Salads and more salads at least 4 nights a week as the stand alone entrée. One day I will blog on our “variations on the salad” which are the basis of most of our meals.

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Parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic cloves & baby red potatoes slightly roasted & scattered across the bottom of the cheese topped dough.

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Baked  with slices of Feta cheese on top. Freshly ground black pepper & crunchy sea salt.

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Cut into slabs, eaten warm with a simple green salad & a glass of wine for a November supper.

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Roasted Root Vegetable Slab Pie in a Gluten Free Corn Flour Crust

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients for crust:

  • 2 cups gluten-free corn flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese
  • 1/2  stick butter cut into small pieces & frozen
  • 1 egg
  • ice water

Ingredients for roasted vegetables:

  • 2 parsnips, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 1 carrot, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 6 baby new potatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper cut into thick slivers
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese (divided)
  • 4 ounces softened herb goat cheese
  • 4 to 6 ounces Feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all the chunked vegs & garlic cloves on a sheet pan. Drizzle on a few tablespoons of olive oil, black pepper & sea salt. Toss well.
  3. Bake vegs just until al dente. About 12 minutes. Remove from oven to cool a bit. Turn oven down to 375 degrees.
  4. While the vegs are roasting make the crust. Put the corn flour in the bowl of a food processor along with the pinch of sea salt & thyme leaves. Pulse a few times to mix.
  5. Add 1/4 cup of the Gruyere shreds & cold butter pieces to the bowl and pulse until the mixture becomes grainy.
  6. Add the egg & pulse a few times. Drizzle in the ice water until a soft dough forms. Scrape dough from the processor bowl. Form into a flatten dough ball, wrap in plastic and chill while vegs are cooling or for about 15 minutes.
  7. Press chilled dough into the bottom and up the sides of a baking sheet pan using your fingers.
  8. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese over the bottom of the crust & top with dollops of the softened herbed goat cheese.
  9. Scatter the roasted vegs over the cheeses & top with pieces of Feta cheese.
  10. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the crust browns & vegs are softened. Serve hot or warm with a side salad of arugula or baby kale & a glass of your favorite wine. A good way to end a November weekend, with some leftovers for later in the week.

Note: This would also be great cut into smaller pieces to serve as an appetizer during the Holidays. Add chunks of butternut squash or pumpkin.

This was my first time using corn flour to make a savory pie crust. It is like a shortbread crust rather than a flakey crust which was really great with the roasted sweetness of the root vegs.

“Kale, Kale, Beautiful Kale, Pesto”

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Big beautiful bunches of Kale...Red Russian with its purplish-red stems & lacy tips, Lacinato Kale very sturdy with the deepest dark green color, and our old, familiar favorite, Curly Kale rather fluffy with white stems & veins all piled high and dewy fresh at the Nashville Farmer’s Market.

Like the “it girl”, Kale, is the “it green”…the green “of the moment”…the “if you own a restaurant in this century Kale is a must for your menu” green…unless you have been living under a rock or off-the-grid completely you know this…right? Right.

To celebrate the “it-ness” of Kale, it’s bounty, beauty and health benefits I came up with this oh-so-easy recipe for “Kale, Beautiful Kale, Pesto“.

Kale Pesto on Pasta

Here is all you will need:

1 bunch of Kale, rinsed & patted dry, middle stem trimmed out, leaves broken into bite-size pieces.

2 garlic cloves, 1 cup toasted walnuts, 1 cup shredded Gruyère Cheese, good olive oil, 1 lemon, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, plus a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano to grate over servings.

Kales Pesto Ingredients

Here is all you need to do:

1. Place garlic cloves & walnuts in a food processor fitted with the cutting blade. Pulse until nuts & garlic are chopped, but not too finely.

ground walnuts

2. Add Kale pieces, fresh lemon juice & sea salt to processor bowl. Pulse while adding about 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil to mixture. Stop & scrape down bowl if you need to. Add Gruyère to the mix and pulse a few times to make a nice paste. Add more or less oil depending on how you like your pesto. I prefer a chunkier, less oily pesto.

lemon juice and Kale

Kale Pesto

3. Top a bowl of hot pasta with a dollop of Kale Pesto, grind some black pepper on top,  add some freshly grated Parmesan..and a glass of a crispy chilled wine. So far, so good October!

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Get your “green” on….Eat more Kale, y’all.