Sometimes it's nice to get out of town, even if it's just for the day. A change of scenery, cooler weather and a bit of adventure is often just what you need to break out of a rut. This past Saturday, my friend Amanda and I took a mini-trip to San Francisco. Not much was on our agenda- just the desire to putter around, get some fresh air and grab a delicious lunch.
Pulling into town, we hit up the Ferry Building to check out it's myriad of culinary goods and to take a peek at the farmers' market. The produce selection that day was about what it is in Sac, just twice the price. We did find two great mushroom stands though...one in the building and one in the farmers' market. Amanda bought these gorgeous pink (yes, pink!) Tree Oyster mushrooms.
I bought some morels, nameko mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns at the indoor stand. I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to use the nameko mushrooms for but I did whip up an amazing tart with the morels and fiddlehead ferns on Saturday afternoon. If you're unfamiliar with the two-- morels are a mushroom that have a spongy, honeycomb-like texture and a wonderfully complex, meaty taste. Mr. S loves them and looks forward to them every year. They have a very short season, you can usually purchase them for a week or two in the spring. Morels love to grow in forests near dead or decaying trees and also in areas that have been burnt by a wildfire.
Fiddleheads ferns are the tightly coiled fronds of a young Ostrich fern. They're called fiddleheads because they resemble the curled end of a violin or a fiddle. This wild edible can usually be found in the early spring. They're a bit elusive, so you most likely won't find them at your local supermarket but sometimes you can find them at the farmers' market, if you're lucky. Fiddleheads are a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, iron and fiber. They are green, crunchy and have a grassy, slightly bitter taste similar to asparagus.
Morel and Fiddlehead Fern Tart
1 frozen pie crust, defrosted (I like the ones at Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking spray
10-12 fresh morels
10-12 fresh fiddlehead ferns (woody ends trimmed)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 oz. goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup half and half
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1. Cut each morel in half lengthwise. Place morels in a large bowl of cold water. Swish around to loosen any dirt or critters. Soak for about 10-20 minutes, Lift the morels out and dump the water and debris. Gently pat the morels dry with paper towels. (Do your morel cleaning right before making your tart. Do not do it earlier as the morels can get soggy after being cleaned.)
2. Boil a pot of salted water. Blanch fiddleheads ferns for two to three minutes. Remove and place in a small bowl of ice cold water to shock the fiddleheads and stop the cooking process.
3. In a large pan, heat the butter. Sauté the morels and fiddleheads for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
4. Roll out pie crust. Spray 12" tart pan with cooking spray. Place pie crust in pan. Trim to fit. Poke a few holes in middle with fork to aerate. Par bake according to instructions. Remove from oven and let cool.
5. In a large bowl, beat together goat cheese, eggs, Parmesan, half and half, garlic, thyme, rosemary, chives, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. (I like to use my Kitchenaid mixer so that I can make sure the filling gets nice and smooth. You don't want any lumps.)
6. Spread evenly over pie crust. Place morels and fiddleheads ferns on top.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Stick a knife in the center and if it comes out clean, it's done. Remove from oven. Can be served hot, warm or at room-temperature.
8. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days and reheated.