Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My brother gave my parents and me a huge basket of chanterelles mushrooms for Christmas. He has some secret spot in the hills of Berkeley where he finds them. I used to worry that he might kill us all with some bogus mushrooms. But I've grown up and now I trust him. After all, he eats them every year with his friends. And with my parents. And no one has ever gotten sick. Turns out he is an expert forager.

My brother cooks his chanterelles the same way every year and he challenged us to do something different. I've never cooked chanterelles. For some reason gruyère cheese kept popping into my head. It was down to a lasagna or a tart. My mom and I decided to collaborate on a tart.

Dash and I looked at each mushroom close up. He couldn't believe how dirty they were.

Three things I learned from my mom and brother about chanterelles mushrooms:

1. To clean them just do a quick dunk in water, a brush off with the vegetable brush, and then a speedy final rinse. Dry them really well. Never soak the mushrooms.
2. Instead of chopping chanterelles you can tear them very easily along their vertical seams. 
3. Tons of liquid comes out when they're first heated up. You can do a dry sauté or a sauté in oil and onions like we did. Just take the time to let the liquid come out. You can set the mushroom broth aside and use it for risotto or soup. Or you can just reduce it down.
My brother took his first bite of the tart and looked ecstatic. After his third bite he said he thought it was so good that he might cry. Keep in mind that my brother has a new baby and he is sleep deprived. But still, I think this tart was out of this world delicious.

Inspired by "Cozy Comfort Food" published by Sunset Magazine in 2009. 
Don't soak the mushrooms in water to clean them. They just need a quick dip in the water, a brush off with the vegetable brush, and a speedy final rinse. Dry them very well.

shortcrust pastry (check out tips):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick), very cold and cut into 1/4 inch square chunks
3-6 tablespoons ice water 

3 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 pound chanterelles mushrooms (cleaned and dried), pulled apart at vertical seams or sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1-2 tablespoons madeira, sherry or dry port 
1 teaspoon salt 
pepper to taste
1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons whipping cream 

for the pastry:
Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into 1/2 inch square chunks and toss into dry ingredients. With your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter into the flour mixture until the butter chunks are the size of peas. Add half the cold water and mix it in with a fork. Add more water if you need to, enough so that when you squeeze the mixture in your fingers it's just moist enough to form a dough. Pour dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the sides of the plastic wrap to press the dough into a disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling it out.  

Set oven for 375º F. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 12 inch round.  Place into a 9 1/2 inch tart shell and press off the edges. Cook the shell for 20-30 minutes until golden. 

for the filling: 
Sauté the leeks and onion in the butter until soft, about 3 minutes.  Turn heat to high and add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have given off their liquid, 5-10 minutes. Stir in the thyme, alcohol, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Take off the heat. 

Spread half the grated gruyere over the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell. Spread the mushroom filling on top of the cheese and then add then sprinkle the remaining gruyere and the parmesan cheese on top of the filling. Drizzle the cream over the top of the tart. Bake until the cheese is melted and golden, about 25-35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. How nice to have a brother who forages mushrooms. We once found a morel in our yard growing in the new mulch, but, unfortunately, it was an isolated experience.

  2. i'm too tired to cook....can i just come eat all your extras?
    -- sarah

  3. I'm a big fan of mushroom hunting and Tilden is indeed chanterelles bountiful. But... I never know how to cook them. Thanks for the recipe!


  4. This mushroom and cheese tart sounds so good!

  5. This recipe looks like something I would make over and over again...
    chantrelles are my favorite mushrooms even though they're quite hard to clean, thanks for tips on how to do it quickly....

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