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Mother’s Day.

It was Mother’s Day. I made this:

It’s a cheesy ramp and leek tart with oyster mushrooms, roasted red peppers, garlic, Dijon mustard. Good stuff. I’ll stick a rough recipe down below.

My folks had never been to Pittsburgh before. Not even a layover at the airport.

Yep. That's them.

So even more than usual, I tried to shop local. Cheese from PennMac, herbs and ramps from a farmer’s market, that kind of thing.

I don’t think anything came from Giant Eagle — not a knock, there are just smaller businesses I’d rather support. The mushrooms I got at Lotus in the Strip. Leeks from Stan’s. That kind of thing.

My mother has an occasional tendency to spoil me. Not always, just sometimes. We haven’t lived within a thousand miles of each other in four years, and she’s always been the kind of person to do something for someone else rather than, say, buy new shoes for herself that she needs. Something like this: least I can do.

After all, she’s probably the biggest reason I cook. She had me in the kitchen early. Early, I say.

We all got up early, made coffee from Big Dog beans, sat around while I rinsed and chopped and organized. I liked seeing my mother get more and more excited when the smells from the pans started filling the kitchen. Anticipation is one of my favorite things about cooking.

And then the unveiling. People were happy. Bellies full. Success.

For the tart:

Ingredients
Filling:
¼-lb. ramps, cleaned and sliced
4 leeks (white and light-green parts only), sliced and cleaned
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½-lb. oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
¼-lb. Garroxta cheese, chopped
¼-lb. Swiss raclette cheese, chopped
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Tbsp. each fresh thyme and chervil, chopped (but you could use pretty much whatever, herb-wise)
6 tbsp. (divided) extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. (divided) unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Crust:
2 cups flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 pinch salt
Enough cold water to bind, usually about a half-cup.

Directions
Make the dough. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter and mix with a fork or by hand until incorporated and looking rather like crumbs. Mix in egg. Then add water a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Knead a few times, folding it over itself, then form into a round disc and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least a half hour.

Meantime, add oil and butter equally into to saute pans, one large and one somewhat small. Medium heat for the larger and high for the smaller. Once the larger pan is heated and the butter melted, add ramps, leeks and garlic and stir to coat. Add a little salt and pepper. In the hot smaller pan, add the mushrooms, stir to coat and leave alone for a few minutes so they brown. No salt yet there.

Once the ramps and leeks soften, not taking on any color, add in the peppers and stir. Check the mushrooms and toss if they’re browning well on the bottom. Once the mushrooms are brown and give moisture back into the pan, season with salt and pepper and take off the heat, setting aside.

Once the peppers have heated through, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Stir in the mustard. Remove from the heat. Add in the cheese and herbs and combine well. Also add in the mushrooms.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Take out the dough and roll into a rough circle, taking care not to roll it too thin.

On a baking sheet, lay out the dough and spoon in as much of the pan mixture into the center as will fit, trying not to overload it. Take the sides of the dough and fold it up over part of the filling. Rough and rustic is perfectly fine. Brush the top of the crust with a little olive oil or milk or melted butter.

Bake in the oven at least 20 minutes, maybe more like 25 or so, until the crust is browned on top and flaky.

Let sit out of the oven a few minutes, then eat the thing.

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2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day.

    • It can happen. I cooked alongside my mother a bit as a kid and started cooking a bit more in college. But it took off once I got out of school. Done it regularly since then.

      I don’t think I would have gotten into it if I hadn’t been around it when I was little — I knew from experience that people cook. Maybe that sounds really simple but a lot of people don’t grow up that way.

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