By Shawna Malvini Redden
Ten! Nine! Eight… as the clock struck midnight and ushered in a bright and shiny 2004, I joined my friends on the patio of Monkey Bar in shouts of joy and champagne-sweetened kisses. We’d camped out for most of the evening, grabbing food from Café Bernardo next door and reveling for hours on end as only early 20-somethings can.
As the thrill of the New Year eased, we meandered (okay, maybe stumbled) towards home, passing by Lavender Heights where we spied the lights of a giant ferris wheel. Of course, we made our way over and found the remnants of a multi-bar bash apparently anchored at Faces.
After some negotiating with the door man—we didn’t want pool access or food at near-2 a.m.—we hefted ourselves into the rickety compartments of the ferris wheel. As the only single in our group, I rode with a Santa-shaped fellow named CJ who told me about the great gay celebration we’d all missed. I remember the slow revolutions of the wheel offering peeks of downtown Sacramento, and how the twinkling lights made the evening, umm, morning, feel magical.
Ten years later, my New Year’s eves are, well, much more tame. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went out out, instead of to a friend’s or parent’s for anything more exotic than sparklers, bubbly, and the Big Apple ball drop. Lest you think I’m complaining, I do relish the opportunity for low-key celebrations with fabulous food. And on that note, I have a fantastic recipe you must try!
I found this Creamy Mushroom Tart on Pinterest (of course) and barely paused before heading to the grocery store for ingredients. It’s worth the effort (which is minimal) and offers an elegant, flavorful appetizer.
Creamy Mushroom Tart
Adapted a bit from Mmm is for Mommy
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed (warning: this takes 30-40 minutes)
5 slices bacon (4 for the recipe, 1 for you to eat)
¼ cup minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and chopped roughly
2 mushrooms thinly sliced for garnish
¼-1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tsp herbes de Provence
¼ tsp cayenne
Lots of black pepper
½ cup light cream cheese
2/3 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- Preheat oven to 425
- Roll out pastry in lightly greased tart pans, a 9×13 baking dish, or on a parchment covered baking sheet, making an edge/outer crust if going free-form. Stash in the fridge until the filling’s ready.
- Cook bacon until crispy, setting aside to drain on paper towels
- Dump bacon grease, except for a couple teaspoons
- Saute onion for a minute over medium heat, then add garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms have released most of their liquid.
- Add wine and simmer until it’s all absorbed.
- Add spices, stir, remove from heat.
- Stir in cream cheese until smooth. Mix in shredded cheese and crumble the bacon over, then stir.
- Spoon filling onto pastry sheets, topping with sliced mushrooms.
- Bake for 20 minutes or so, until pastry is golden and the filling is hot.
– I set out the puff pastry to defrost about 10 minutes before I started the filling
– If you’re big into cream cheese, you can bump it up to ¾-1 cup for a super creamy tart, which is more like the original recipe.
– Did you know you can wash mushrooms? Don’t laugh at me, but I thought they absorbed a lot of water and have been wiping them individually for the last several years. Insanity. Here’s some Gourmet evidence that you can give mushrooms a good rinse with no ill effects: http://www.thekitchn.com/hey-you-can-wash-mushrooms-54939