by Diane Rossen Worthington
"The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation"
is a new book by renowned "Moosewood Cookbook" author
I selected this intriguing popover pie to try because autumn mushrooms are a symbol of cold weather cooking for me. I cook them in sauces, pasta, gratins and stews. When I saw this idea of combining a popover batter with a layer of sautéed mushrooms, I knew it would be a hit.
What a perfect light supper or luncheon main course this is. Crustless and replete with an airy, custardy, pancake-like texture, this popover is baked in a skillet and then gets cut into wedges, like a pie. The author recommends this as the new dinner fallback plan, especially for mushroom lovers.
The combination of fresh domestic and shiitake mushrooms results in layers of deep mushroom flavor. If you can't find shiitakes, it's OK to substitute cremini (brown) mushrooms or to use all domestic ones. You can be adventurous at the mushroom stall and try different varieties that all have their own special flavor. I have taken the liberty of modifying the recipe with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese to give the popover an extra jolt of flavor.
Make sure to use a seasoned cast iron skillet for ease in baking. I serve this with a lively tangle of mixed greens with mustard vinaigrette. A crisp white Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect beverage. A Pinot Noir would also be terrific.
Mushroom Popover Pie Recipe
Adapted from "The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation" by
Serves 2 to 3 (this recipe is easily doubled, if you have a second skillet).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely minced onion
1/2 pound cremini or button mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed if necessary, and thinly sliced
10 medium shiitake mushrooms (about 1/4 pound), wiped clean, stemmed and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F, with a rack in the center position.
2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until softened and light brown. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms are becoming golden around the edges, about 5 more minutes. Season to taste. (It will seem like a lot of mushrooms at first, but they will cook down.)
3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a blender and whip them into a smooth batter. (If you don't have a blender, whisk them together in a medium bowl. It's fine if the mixture has a few lumps.) Set aside.
4. When the mushrooms are ready, transfer them to a bowl, then thoroughly wash and dry the pan and return it to the stove. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and heat over low heat just until the butter melts and begins to foam. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and swirl to coat the pan. (Be sure to get the edges.) Add the mushrooms, spreading them into a fairly even layer, then pour in the batter. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the batter becomes dry on top and feels solid when touched lightly with a fingertip. The edges will have shrunk from the sides of the pan and become quite brown. Cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.
Vegetarian Main Course Recipe, American Cuisine