I feel lucky to live, for now, in a place where porcini mushrooms are sold locally. They are still expensive, but fresh woodsy mushrooms, sauteed with fruity olive oil and chunks of garlic are sometimes better than dessert. Something magic happens and they melt in the pan.
This fall, I've made porcini several times, simply, in the pan with garlic, a bit of chili, white wine and served over fresh fettucini. Last weekend, I realized how long it had been since I had made "rustic" tarts and decided that my porcini would be a wonderful filling. I do shy away from this kind of dough, and I lack the practice to make it without some degree of frustration. This dough recipe, from Baking with Julia seemed straightforward, but I had some trouble nonetheless. Perhaps it was in the conversion of butter from cups to grams. The dough needed a lot more flour than called for in the recipe, and even then, it was hard to handle (giving that middle tart the real "homemade" look.) But they tasted just right, and I made no apologies whatsoever!
If it had not been raining cats and dogs, I probably would have gone out to buy some white wine, rosemary or thyme to add to my mushrooms. But porcini do not need any doctoring, and I really loved the simplicity of these tarts. They were just the thing to make a cozy Sunday lunch, next to a bowl of leek and potato soup.
Porcini mushroom tarts
For the filling:
If you can't get fresh porcini, substitute any combination of mushrooms you like.
Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, salt, pepper to taste. Add white wine (optional) or a little water and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid.
For the pastry dough:
(makes enough for 2 8 inch tarts, or 4 mini tarts)
3 tablespoons sour cream (I used yogurt)
1/3 cup (approximately) ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
To make the dough in the food processor:
Stir the sour cream and 1/3 cup ice water together in a small bowl, set aside.
Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt into the bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 times (mixture should be speckled with butter pieces no bigger than the size of peas.) With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds. Remove the dough, divide in half and press each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400 degrees. Let the tarts rest for 10 minutes before serving.