How are you? Can you believe that already we’re in the middle of February. Geez Louise! Over the Christmas holidays, I had kind of lost my mojo in the kitchen, but it has finally come back and I’m feeling quite excited about it.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m the Marketing Manager for a private girls’ school in Perth. This year I was thrilled that I received an end-of-year gift from two students. I am not a teacher, so my contact with students is fairly limited, but when I do get the opportunity to work with them, I love it. Our department produces the school yearbook, so I work with a few prefects to put it together, and along the way we have chats about homework, study, university choices etc. Anyway, I was thrilled with my two gifts.
The Principal on the other hand cleaned up! There was pretty much a whole desk worth of gifts for her, but basically as soon as the term was over, she ducked off to New York. Now that she is back, she has been slowly going through her gifts from students. One of them was a set of three mini, flavoured olive oils. As I was waiting for her outside her office one day, I took a peek at some of the gifts and I was joking about these oils – that there was heaps of basil, and heaps of garlic, but as truffles were expensive, the company making the oil could only afford one piece.
She then very generously offered them to me. She knows I love to cook, and she said that she is not cooking much at the moment because she is so busy (it’s true – this woman has pretty much every weekend planned out for her for the entire year. Can you imagine!), so rather than the oils going to waste, if I thought I could get good use out of them, then I should take them. Of course, I did the whole polite thing of declining, but she insisted.
Anyway, I have never used truffle oil before, but I know it pairs really well with mushrooms. And then, I discovered on the Veggieful blog that puff pastry is vegan. I had always just assumed that it had butter in it. Well, that’s mass production for you – never assume something is vegan, and never assume something is not vegan. This discovery has changed my life just a little bit. I don’t eat puff pastry that often, but it definitely opens up a lot of options for me now.
And this is how the mushroom tart came to be. I recently saw a similar thing in a magazine – I’m not sure of the recipe, and I don’t think it was vegan… all I remember was the picture, and this came out pretty much the same as what I remember.
Puff pastry is not a wholefood, and it’s pretty fatty – 26g per sheet. I ended up looking up the fat content of the recipe online in comparison to my daily requirements, and it was only 15% of my daily intake of calories with the whole puff pastry sheet…. yes, I ate a whole puff pastry sheet to myself, which usually would be two serves (they say fat should be 20% – 35%, and since the rest of my day had next to no fat in it) so I feel it was still a safe choice, even with the whole sheet to myself but probably not something to eat every day or even every week.
But damn, it was good!
- 2 puff pastry sheets
- 3 cups mushrooms - chopped
- 3 cups spinach
- 1 cup cashews
- Half a lemon
- Small handful basil, chopped finely
- Olive oil
- (Optional and totally not essential to the dish) Teeny bit of truffle oil
- Preheat your oven to about 200 degrees and spray some oil onto a large oven tray (two if you need).
- Soak your cashews in water for about 30 minutes (longer if you can). Then drain about half of the water out (more if you feel - better to drain out more water than less because it is easy to add more water in), squeeze in the lemon juice, put in your blender and whiz until it has formed a smooth paste. It should be the consistency of a really spreadable dip.
- Sprinkle your basil onto your puff pastry sheets (but don't put right to the edge as they'll get folded up - sprinkle it more toward the centre), and then spread the cashew cream on - it should be quite thickly spread. Fold over your edges a few times until you've got the shape you want, and then place on your oven tray(s), and bake for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a frypan until it is super hot. I always say this with mushrooms, but the pan really does need to be really hot before you add them, otherwise they'll lose all their liquid and just be all mushy. Drizzle a touch of olive oil in the pan and then fry your mushrooms for a few minutes, and then just before they're cooked, add most of your spinach (reserving some to sprinkle on top of the tarts at the end).
- Once the puff pastry is golden brown and you've cooked your mushrooms and spinach, take out the oven, and evenly distribute the mushroom/spinach mix. Sprinkle uncooked spinach on top, and drizzle with the tiniest bit of oil (especially tiny if you're using truffle oil).
- Slice each piece of puff pastry into half for one serve, and slice again into four pieces for an even smaller piece.