22 May 2009
Mushroom and Oka Cheese Tatin
Oka is a cheese made in Oka, Quebec, a location I know more for the Oka Crisis in 1990 than for their cheese. But the long and short of it is this: Trappists monks at the monastery in Oka developed this cheese, which is "a surface-ripened semi-soft cheese," using techniques brought over from... France. (I think.) I can't say I know particularly what that means, but I do know that it smells pretty pungent and isn't (for me) that enjoyable as is. However, once you cook it, it's very lovely (though I couldn't hope to describe the taste). I first had it on these mini burgers from Redwater restaurant here in Calgary.
Since I didn't really know what to do with it, I went to Dairy Goodness looking for recipes. I went directly to their recipe section, but just now I found their page describing Oka. The Mushroom and Oka Tatin recipe seemed like a good choice to me - I had pastry patty shells in the freezer that I needed to use, I have honey I don't like but don't want to throw away (might as well cook it, right? maybe the flavour will be disguised), and I do love mushrooms.
You're meant to use puff pastry, but I didn't want to buy puff pastry to do a single serving of a tart, and I had Tenderflake Patty Shells in the freezer, which I'd bought for something I've never made. (Also? There is an ice cube tray of frozen gravy that I made for that something I've never made. Yeah. I await the day a guest wants ice cubes.) So even though it wasn't going to work out quite right, I decided to use patty shells instead.
For the recipe, you cook the tatin in a ramekin with the pastry stretched over, then flip it over onto a serving dish once it's cooked. Patty shells come with a circle popped in the middle so that the "lid" comes off easily once it's baked and then you can stuff it afterward with the filling. You bake them from frozen, so I wasn't sure how it would work as a substitution for puff pastry. Hence my decision to try it two ways.
First, I thawed one of the patty shells before getting any of the rest of dinner ready. (I wrapped it in a damp towel to keep it from drying out, which seemed to work.) Then I made enough filling for two tatins, and started baking the second patty shell (from frozen, as it says on the box to do).
The pastry, in both cases, was pretty much a failure. You don't really see it in either photo, but it didn't cook properly. I left the according-to-directions patty shell in the oven longer than the box suggests, but inside it was still raw and oily looking. (I got impatient and just pulled it out of the oven unfinished, scooped in the filling, and took the photo.) The one cooked from raw was cooked quite nicely around the edges, but the steam from the mushrooms left it kind of sticky and damp in the middle and I couldn't bear to even try eating it. (I don't know if it had cooked through or not. I lean toward not, but it was quite nasty looking.) In both cases, I ate the filling and the crunchy, puffy bits from around the edges of the pastry cases and threw away the rest.
If I could work out the pastry issue (maybe, and here's a wild thought, I could use actual puff pastry like they suggest) I think this would be a great starter to a nice dinner or, with a salad, a really great lunch. It's gorgeous (though it'd look nicer with fresh thyme leaves across the top after it's cooked) and the filling tastes wonderful - sweet and savory and the mushrooms taste better than you could imagine.
Even though it didn't work out quite right, I didn't really miss having the pastry to eat with it; the crunchy bits were nice with the mushrooms, but I could have happily lived without them. I'm not quite sure how I'd serve mushrooms cooked in honey otherwise, but if I ever think of a way, I'll definitely try it.