Last weekend I procured a one-pound oyster mushroom from Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza Farmers Market. Its appearance struck me from a few feet away: tangled, interwoven limbs resembling those of an intrepid cephalopod; a wild looking alien with creamy, buttery yellow discs shooting from a thick dusty white core. It beckoned me and I knew I had to bring it home for my spring mushroom and onion tart. With its lemony color and artistically sweeping curves, I felt regret dissecting nature’s work of art. Guilt heavy in my heart, I sank my knife into its thick body and prepped it for a higher calling.
Oyster mushrooms have a delicate but almost briny flavor, like their namesake, and pair well with eggs. They emit a subtly dirty aroma when raw and an almost custardy, creamy odor when cooked. A touch of olive oil or butter renders them succulent and rich, their flaky flesh morphing into tender, luscious meat. Layered, light-as-air puff pastry is the canvas for my tart. Mushrooms beg for cream and cheese, and buttery Taleggio, velvety crème fraiche and nutty Gruyère happily cradle the golden, bubbly nooks and crannies of the pastry. A scattering of barky shiitake and pastel farm-fresh eggs build on the earthy, briny and creamy qualities of the tart.
The stall next to the mushrooms was selling lime-hued spring onions and chives which I knew would look and taste the part, and add a pop of grassy color. Utilizing both the tangy whites and sweet greens of the onion adds depth of flavor, and the green bits crisp pleasantly around the edges when cooked. We gobbled up the tart in minutes, a perfect harmony of spring’s bounty. Perhaps we should have paced ourselves, savoring every mellifluous bite, letting the luxurious flavors melt on our tongues. But alas, we were very hungry and I have a hard time going slowly with any food drizzled in truffle oil, the heady perfume bewitching me nose to lips!
Spring Mushroom Tart with Green Onions and Farm Fresh Eggs
1 sheet puff pastry dough
1 egg, lightly beaten, with 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound assorted spring mushrooms (such as oyster, shiitake), sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 spring onions, green parts roughly torn, white parts thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup crème fraiche
1/2 cup Gruyère, grated
1 1/2 ounces Taleggio, broken apart into small chunks
Truffle oil for drizzling
1. Thaw the puff pastry dough according to package instructions.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Add butter and white part of onions to pan and continue to cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer mushrooms to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4. Roll out thawed dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13 x 9 1/2-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a paring knife lightly score a border 1/2-inch from the edge of the dough, making sure not to cut all the way through. Pierce the inside of the dough all over with a fork. Brush the border with the egg wash.
5. Spread crème fraiche over the puff pastry inside the border. Sprinkle with half the cheese and half the mushrooms and then one more layer of each.
6. Lay the onion greens over the tart and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
7. Remove pan from the oven and crack the eggs onto the tart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and yolks are still runny.
8. Clip chives with scissors over tart and drizzle with truffle oil. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 3 to 4 people.