In New York City, women are fete-ing the last eighty-degree days of summer with long, flowy evening dresses, or so perennially squeezable reporter to the Times Bill Cunningham tells me. In Iowa City, women are not doing this, but not so much because of divergent fashion taste (okay, maybe a little of that). It’s because fall has arrived.
When we wake mornings the thermometer regularly reads somewhere in the mid-forties. This started happening, I’ll have you know, over this final August weekend, and much as we keep buying peaches and tomatoes and shrimp-for-the-grill, soon HyVee’s frantic “Last of the Season!” warnings will come true, and we’ll have to start in on the apples, leeks, and venison (ha! one can dream).
Fall also means mushrooms, and I don’t like mushrooms. They are squishy and rubbery, and when I was washing the aforepictured oyster mushrooms I literally did not know if there was a stem. Or where it was. That particular species being all folds and lace. But I want to like mushrooms, and if there’s one surefire way to convert, it’s by cooking with them. Raw, they smell lovely and woodsy, and just exude fall in their little button tops.
And I do like — love — this wild mushroom tart that I ate two summers ago on Cape Cod. I found out the name of the recipe book, photocopied page 254 in the library and made the tart once last fall, where not even my shoebox electric oven could ruin it. Of course, I then promptly and utterly lost it, and had no choice but to order a copy through Prarie Lights Bookstore. And yesterday I finally got my fix.
The “tart” appellation is really a misnomer, for this resembles nothing so much as a quiche. The stewed mushrooms, onion, cider, and brandy (oh yes) are bound together with four eggs and mounds of two shredded cheeses. And calling it quiche is not only more accurate, but quite handy, because quiche is fair game for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. This is about how often I want a(nother) slice.
A final, confessional note: you’re meant to make your own crust. For want of a food processor, a tart pan, a rolling pin, and pie weights — I didn’t. And the Pillsbury frozen crust wasn’t even bad. While we’re on the subject of low class substitutions, I also didn’t use dried porcini, smoked mozzarella, or specifically applejack brandy. And it didn’t matter.
Wild Mushroom Quiche
(Adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook)
- 1 cup apple cider or juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 4 oz fresh wild mushrooms (I used shiitake), washed and sliced
- 4 oz fresh wild mushrooms, another variety (I used oyster mushrooms), washed and sliced
- 8 oz fresh cultivated mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 1/4 cup brandy
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 chopped parsley
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 grated Parmesan or similar
Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onions and three mushroom varieties; saute for ten minutes.
Add the cider, brandy, salt, and pepper. Cook uncovered on low heat for twenty minutes. Add parsley and remove from heat.
Beat together eggs and cream, and stir in the cheeses. Add the mushroom mixture and combine well.
Pour into the pie shell and cook at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.