The Pantry Tart. "No better than she should be", and loitering in the kitchen? Funny vintage, huffy names, for scolding and libeling. No fun at the time for the girls, I'm sure.... Still, I'm particularly attached to "Saucy Baggage", which I think should be the name of a luggage company, if it isn't already.
But it's not about my own, presently less than saucy self, or anyone else. It's about my supper. Still mostly stuck indoors with The Improving Foot, I've been making use of what's already on the pantry shelves, and in the fridge. I am, however, also cheating, because this whole meal started with some asparagus recently delivered by a kindly friend.
I realized that the pantry, which I've been depleting, still contained the ingredients for Asparagus with Morels, and I was going to do that for supper. But, after several days of very limited kichen time, and not a few meals of cold cereal, I had a really nice dinner last night. There was a car ride to the house of friends, chili, excellent guacamole, cute little baby tacos, and actual warm-from-the-oven homemade apple pie with ice cream (!). I'm feeling like I sure do want those real meals again, enough to do something about it. So I thought I'd kind of expand on that tasty asparagus recipe, and make a supper tart of it, to have with the remains of the arugula.
Rather than just referring to that recipe and adding on, I'm going to put the whole thing down here, so as to be less confusing, should you actually want to make it. But is is , fundamentally, just an adaptation of the Paula Wolfert original, linked above.
pie crust for a tart (I used up some store puff pastry in the freezer- not excellent, sadly-and a regular crust would be better anyhow)
bunch of asparagus, cooked until just tender, and cut in one inch pieces
1 oz. dried morels
1/2 cup broth
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 1/3 cups cream or half and half
a leek, white and pale green part only, chopped
bit of grated parmesan
freshly grated nutmeg.
Soak the morels in 3/4 cup warm water, mixed with 1/4 cup milk for about 30 minutes. Rinse the morels, but save the soaking liquid. Put the morels in a smallish pan, and strain the liquid through a paper coffee filter, or yogurt cheese filter, into the pan. Don't skip this step- you'll be amazed at the amount of dust!
Simmer in the pan until almost all the liquid is absorbed, then add the broth, butter and mustard, salt and pepper.Simmer 5 minutes, and add 1/3 cup of the cream. Take off the heat and set aside for about an hour. Much of the liquid will absorb.
In the broth, cook the leek until soft. Drain.
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a false bottomed tart pan 9-10" round or square with the pie dough, fill with
beans or pieweights and prebake on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle the bottom of the tart shell with breadcrumbs, and arrange on the shell the asparagus, the drained leeks and the morels, which you have also drained, reserving any liquid.
Mix the morel liquid well with the rest of the cream and the eggs,and some nutmeg, and pour over all, just to almost the top of the shell.This should be about the right amount. Grate parm over all, and sprinkle with some more breadcrumbs. Put in oven, which you immediately turn down to 350F. This will take about 40 minutes, but check it sooner!
I find when cooking a filled tart with a puff pastry crust, it is nicer if after I extract it from the tart pan, I set it on a piece of foil, and give it another 10 minutes in a hot (425-450F) oven. Makes the bottom crisp, instead of gooey. If you are going to do this, of course, you should remove the tart from the first baking when it's a little underdone- custard just set.
You can eat the tart hot, but personally, I think it tastes best lukewarm. and leftovers make a swell lunch. If you are planning on consuming your tart piecemeal, you might want to do the bottom crust browning on each portion separately, shortly before serving. Or not.