Thursday, October 19, 2006

wild mushroom and stilton galette

wild mushroom and stilton galette

About five years ago, my best friend decided to host Christmas Eve dinner at her new house, and I came over to help for what seemed like a lovely afternoon, but turned out to be, well, you know how you don’t always get along perfectly with your closest friends when you’re both stressed out? Daunted and nearly pulled under by the amount of work we’d bitten off, I’m pretty sure there were some snippy words between us, and this Wild Mushroom and Stilton Galette recipe didn’t help. I remember thinking at the time it was one of the most elaborate things I’d ever made, but what I really meant was “pain in the ass.” It has all of these, well, steps, directions you’re not sure are utterly necessary or bettering of the end-product but you follow them because you don’t want to find out the other way that you should have just RTFM-ed. Especially not on Christmas Eve with guests coming over. But, we plundered through and ended up delighted with the results. Everything worked exactly the way it promised, and I’d like to think that this galette added an iota of peace and tranquility to our hellish afternoon. Well, that and Baileys.

This dish didn’t reappear in my life until a year ago June at my bridal shower, in the form of a card she’d tucked into a recipe book my sister compiled from guests. I laughed when I looked at it: why would anyone ever make such a pesky recipe again, one cluttered with such exhausted, testy memories? More pertinently, why on earth would I go another round with it on a Wednesday night when I was so tired, even boiling pasta seemed a stretch? It really only sheds further light on my madness, or perhaps denial. Sometimes you really need the exact opposite of what you crave; I mean, my day had been bad enough, why add insult to injury by forcing us to eat an uninspired dinner?

prep time will vary with wine

Now, about the funk, or should I say, fungh: with over a pound of wild mushrooms and five ounces of blue cheese, this is not a recipe for feeble palated or stench-averted. That I managed to find a blend with an especially pungent bouquet — a gigantic fresh porcini (two stores were out of the more-affordable dried), a few ounces of mousseron (a new discovery, and possible favorite), oyster and shiitake — didn’t reduce the overall olfactory impact, either. All minced together, it like the great cave door at Murray’s had been swung open, and for the half of you whose stomachs haven’t turned at the thought of this, you know what a good thing it must be.

While the recipe is on the fussy side — freezing flour, rolling out a sticky dough and then pushing back the finish time even further by cooling the filling first — not a one of these steps does anything but improve the outcome. I think of this like a great side dish for a dinner party; it’s rustic enough that it won’t upstage any rack of lamb or Thanksgiving turkey, but intense enough that it will get the affection it deserves. And for a wiped-out Wednesday? Well, 10 p.m. is never too late to have the best part of your day.

stinko galette

[Soundtrack]

Mushroom and Stilton Galette
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Autumn

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
1/4 ounce dried wild mushrooms, such as chanterelles, porcini or shiitakes
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 lb. assorted fresh wild mushrooms, such as
chanterelles, porcini and shiitakes, brushed
clean and large mushrooms thinly sliced
1/2 lb. fresh button mushrooms, brushed clean
and thinly sliced
5 ounces Stilton or other good-quality blue cheese

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes until softened. Drain the mushrooms and mince finely.

3. Preheat an oven to 400°F.

4. In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the green onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Increase the heat to high, add the fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid they released has completely evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

5. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Crumble the blue cheese into a bowl, add the cooled mushrooms and stir well. Spread the mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the mushrooms and cheese, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.


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