For our annual gathering of of interesting, spunky, and risk-taking women who like to cook... it is imperative that we make a dish to share, and a dish that perhaps we've never made before, and that we'd like to test.
My choice for this year expanded from a simple summer tart, to respecting what ingredients were available (there are nor eggplant at the local organic grocer's yet). Somewhat inspired by the gorgeous crostini that Julie Powell serves to her husband early on in the Julie and Julia movie... I rather concocted the following: it did please the crowd.
First step : a savory brisé crust with half whole wheat flour and rosemary
second step : caramelizing two very large onions (enough for at least 2 cups once reduced and caramelized)
third step : browning the slices of portobello mushrooms (or any lovely mushrooms you might have)
fourth step : turning a small jar of anchovies into anchovy paste with minced garlic, simmered over the flame
fifth step : a simply persillade of chopped parsley and minced garlic
So for the crust:
1/2 pound of butter
2 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons crumbled rosemary
water to moisten
You can easily do this crust in a mixer, but I generally do it by hand, allowing the butter to warm to room temperature and working it into the dry ingredients, then adding the egg, a 1/4 cup of water, and a touch more if necessary to make a ball. I wrap this is plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge while I work on the rest of the dish.
Chop the onions into slim half moons, and toss them in a large frying pan with a good quantity of olive oil to cover the bottom and more so. Leave on a medium flame, stir occasionally, till nicely golden and a touch brown. Remove from the flame, transfer to a small bowl for later.
Into the olive oil, add your mushrooms (I had 3 large portobellos). I sliced mine rather thickly, and aimed to brown them in the oil, and so did not over crowd the pan. Once nicely browned, I transfered them to a small bowl.
Then I took my jar of anchovies and dumped them into a small frying pan with more olive oil. I minced two cloves of garlic (pretty good sized) and once the anchovies had dissolved into a gray paste, I added the finely minced garlic and let simmer a moment to sweeten the garlic, then I tossed back in the mushrooms and stirred them around to cover. I then transfered the mushrooms to a sieve over a bowl -- there had been a lot of oil in that pan, and I didn't want to put it all on the tart. Nor, however, would I toss it. It will be lovely over pasta or in salads later.
Then I took the tart dough out of the fridge and rolled it out thinly on parchment paper, I transfered it to a baking sheet, poked it with a fork all over, and baked it till crispy and lightly browned -- perhaps 20 minutes in a 375F oven (180C). But use your eyes and nose as your guide here.
While the tart base was baking, I rinsed and chopped the bunch of parsley, minced a few more garlic cloves, and mixed this together. It would be the crisp and colorful garnish atop the tart.
Putting it all together:
Out comes the tart, and I slather the caramelized onions atop, and over these the mushrooms, and over these a sprinkle of the persillade. All done. Yummy, savory, and adaptable to grilled eggplant, when at last it is in season in this Northern part of the world (yes, I could make it now in Provence, but that's ok, the mushrooms were a lovely replacement).
Sorry there are no photos -- we ate it all too quickly!