brunch, mains

fresh mushroom + goat cheese tart.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.

There’s nothing like a huge mistake and utter distress to rally the troops around here, right? All of you – every single one of you – were so, so nice about me missing my Deb Perelman meet and greet the other day; to say I was touched would be an understatement. You know how in the moment everything seems to just be such an epic thing? That’s how I felt. Your sweet comments and emails made me feel better about the whole thing; I am human, these things happen, I’m not the only person to get caught in traffic on the way to do something important, for sure. I wrote her an email which was most likely too long, but we all know how I am with the wordiness; I hope she writes back, as it would make my life. Because the thing is, I did meet Deb, for a few hours at her luncheon. Sure, we only got a few seconds to talk one-one one, but listening to her talk and answer questions while eating her food for lunch was a fantastic experience, and I was all too happy to furiously type notes out for you. Here we go.

Also, I made you the mushroom tart from her Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which was one of the courses that day. Lest you think you were going to get cheated out of a recipe again. Not this time, friends.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.

I’ve been to several book signings, and for cookbooks, this is really the way to go. No standing in lines outside Williams Sonoma or Whole Foods grasping your cookbook and rubbernecking it to get a glimpse of the honored guest, no sir; this was downright leisurely. It was held by one of our local food magazines, Sauce, along with Left Bank Books (the bookstore featured in my Deb nightmare post, although certainly they did nothing wrong), and was held at Modesto, one of my long-time favorite restaurants.

Three courses were served, all from the cookbook:

  • Mushroom Tart + Kale Salad with Cherries and Pecans
  • Balsamic and Beer-Braised Short Ribs + Parsnip Puree
  • Grapefruit + Olive Oil Pound Cake

And yes; everything was delicious. I don’t eat a ton of red meat, but I’m not morally opposed to it either, and I enjoy a braised short rib every so often. Pair it with a parsnip cloud, and I’m in heaven. I love olive oil based bundt and pound cakes, so the grapefruit pound cake was going to be wonderful; however, it was more delicious than even I expected. Pound cake can go dry or heavy on you, and this one was neither. The mushroom tart was an absolute delight; creamy cheese, a little bit of herb kick, and the cornmeal crust is a great texture to balance out the mushroom insides. The kale salad is great alongside it; good hearty crunch and bite, but not at all heavy.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.

And we got to eat all of that while Deb was talking to us. Cute Alert: I don’t think she was actually supposed to stay out the there entire time while we ate. The announcer seemed to indicate that she would be saying hi and then maybe exiting/returning later to answer questions towards the end of the meal, then demo-ing the pound cake, then signing books. But what a trooper, that one; she stood out there, mic in hand, the entire time we ate, happily answering question after question from the group. I hope she ate before she started talking, because if that were me (someday?) at around the 1 pm mark I would be light-headed from hunger.

So what did she talk about? Here’s some of what she talked about, and some fun facts she revealed:

  • She isn’t a huge fan of kale! I realize that can get your food blogger membership revoked (like disliking beets, brussels sprouts, or blood oranges), but she freely admitted that she wasn’t on board the kale train until recently. She prefers a lightweight kale as opposed to the thicker variety you find in many grocery stores.
  • She still doesn’t totally understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to which I let out a little cheer (because I just had to look up SEO because I always forget what it stands for. I’m such a professional, people.)
  • She admits she didn’t do much cooking until she met her husband. Why? Same reason we’ve discussed; it’s just easier to cook when you have an audience. Cooking for one is sometimes great, but lots of times it feels difficult and not worth the effort. It’s like getting ready like you’re going out somewhere fancy to watch a movie on Netflix by yourself, most days.
  • She still loves blogging! She loves to blather on and on! She loves informal voice in writing! She loves being able to drop tons of photos in if she wants! She’s basically me, only much more talented and popular. She’s me: the reach goal.
  • She was worried with the cookbook that they would scrub out her voice because of obvious print restrictions. I never knew that until about a year ago, when I was asked to submit a summary/recipe for a book called Handwritten Recipes. Michael, the author, was so great to work with and loved my submission, and then we worked on cutting like, 2/3 of it out. Because my own rambling can’t be tamed, and obviously he didn’t think it would be wise for my writeup and recipe to take up half the pages. To his credit, he wanted to keep all of it, but lots of it had to be edited down. It still sounds like me, but me trying to fit into a small space. In reading through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, I think she sounds very much like herself, which I’m thrilled about.
  • Those lovely countertops you see in her photos? Cheap plastic. Photogenic plastic, but cheap plastic nonetheless. A testament to how you really can make inexpensive work for you in blog photography. I use white foam core boards, lots of natural parchment, and sometimes white fabric. Or my own cheap countertops.
  • Her biggest inspirations for the food she’s cooking are her own cravings, leftovers she has in her fridge, and flavor combinations she’s had in restaurants. Which is really the way to go, because I think the most passionate and inspired cooking comes from what YOU yourself want to eat, and not what you think everyone else wants to see. If you ever wonder why I make everything I make, 95% of the time because of the reasons above.
  • She has the tiniest oven ever! That was probably the most fascinating bit of information for me; her oven is a classic small apartment oven, which is roughly 2/3 the width of a standard oven. Can you imagine? Maybe some of you can; if you have an oven like that, you have my respect and admiration. When we go to Nashville to do Thanksgiving (which hasn’t happened for the past two years, but next year it will) we stay with my sister, who is also in possession of an apartment oven. Let’s think about that: we trek across a few states to cook THANKSGIVING DINNER in an oven roughly 33% smaller (that’s math; is that right?) than a normal oven. You can’t say we don’t love a challenge, our family.
  • And we love every. single. minute of it. It’s like my mother and my personal challenge to see if THIS is the year we completely boff a holiday. Hasn’t happened yet.
  • She believes that cookware doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. She recommends you get a good Dutch oven and a 12-inch cast iron skillet and then think about what you need before buying the 98-piece set of something. I live by this, because I would much rather use my space for say, vintage dishes and other ridiculous “necessities” than actual cookware. I’d add to this list two good, heavy-bottomed saucepans – large and small – and some decent frying pans, also large and small.
  • She doesn’t go back and change posts! I’ve always secretly wanted to know how to handle the first 6 months or so of my own blog, when I feel like my photos were all taken during some sort of midnight tornado and I was still finding both my audience and my writing groove. Should I go back and redo things? Well, now you know: Deb doesn’t do it, so I think maybe I won’t worry about it either. Obviously, she says, if she finds mistakes, she adjusts things.

smitten kitchen event.

Are you hanging in there? This is a long post. I guess when you’re a rambler and you’re talking about someone who loves to talk, you just know it’s going to be awhile.

  • She just started blogging about everything and focused in on cooking as a natural progression. She just needed an outlet at that point in her life and it just went in a very food-centric direction before too long. I know lots of you are currently bloggers, so you figured out that blogging is a fabulous outlet, but for those of you who don’t blog and have ever thought about it? Deb says DO IT. Worry about what direction to take it later. You’ll find it.
  • She said her recipe development, start to finish, takes about a month, give or take. She researches, executes, fine-tunes, photographs, and writes. Sometimes she tables things for later (and don’t we all do that, right?)
  • Her go-to recipes from the book are the everyday margarita pizza, any of the soups, and she loves Bolognese sauces, flatbread, and roasted vegetables readily available for quick dinners. For parties, she likes the short ribs I mentioned above, any of the pastas, and the mussels and oven fries found in the book.
  • I loved her take on organic, because it’s not one you always get to hear publicly, and I think it’s one that probably lots of us (and I know myself), in one way or another, live by. She thinks that organic isn’t so much the answer to everything, but it’s a good step in the right direction. I think that’s an important statement for cooks, especially when you’re just starting out. Too many times people are shamed into buying organic, and it’s not fair to do that. Certainly in a perfect world, that’s all we would have. Certainly also, I think everyone should be very well-versed on where their food comes from, especially in terms of meat (because we’ve all seen and heard the horror stories there). I believe in the importance of helping local farmers, and those farmers aren’t all certified organic. In my own life, I think a good balance of awareness and thoughtfulness combined with supporting the local economy is the way to go, but it’s broader than just buying organic exclusively. I liked that she was very honest and forthright about her thoughts in that regard, because I think it must be much easier to just say “buy organic all the time it’s the only way to go.” So I appreciated that.

And after all that chatting with us, and after all that luscious food, she signed our books and took the time to talk to everyone at each table, which was no small feat, I assume, after talking for the better part of an hour.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.People, she’s great. She’s a funny, warm, genuine person to be around. You can sort of just tell that about her. You want to invite her to coffee, or to hang out at your favorite restaurant. You want to make her one of your recipes because you know she’ll be honest and tell you what she thinks, but most likely in a positive, helpful way. She would make suggestions and give you tips, but not in the “this is my way to do it and it’s right” sort of way. She would probably hug you, and she would mean it. Mostly, she seems like someone who would encourage rather than criticize, listen rather than talk, and help in whatever way she could. Deb fan or not, those are rare qualities and are to be admired.

So, whew! Did you feel like you were there with me? I hope so. If you made it through to this part, your reward is the first course (or half of it) from the luncheon: the glorious mushroom tart. You can find the original in her new cookbook, but I made some adjustments to it which I think you’ll like. Most notably, I’ve added goat cheese to the mix, and I think it works very well here with both the other cheeses and the mushrooms. I’ll beg you not to use anything but fresh thyme here: although I usually consider dried thyme to be an acceptable substitute for fresh in most cases, this is one where I think you would detect a difference. I implore you, get a bunch of it from your grocer and then make a big vat of Bolognese or something. You can find a million ways to use fresh thyme up before it goes bad.

I won’t talk anymore.

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. I usually say a few words here about how I feel about either the cookbook or its author, but I’ve covered that, don’t you think? The salad you see in the photo is a kale salad I’ve been eating/adapting for the blog. When it’s completely ready, I’ll share it with you.

Mushroom + Goat Cheese Tart

for the crust:

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 Β tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

for the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 pound cremini or brown mushrooms (sometimes they go by the name “baby bellas”)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, or chanterelles, sliced into small segments
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Make your crust:

Before we begin, I want to tell you I LOVE this crust; it’s so incredibly easy to work with, as you can see from above. I’m terrible with tart crusts, but this one was a breeze; cornmeal does a lovely job at keeping things sturdy.

Get out a 9-inch tart pan.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, cornmeal and salt, pulsing until combined. Add the butter cubes and pulse until wet crumbs begin to form. Add the egg and process until your dough begins to come together. If it seems a little on the dry side (you don’t want it wet, but you want it to form a ball), slowly add in a tablespoon of the heavy cream to help it on. If needed, drizzle in the second tablespoon of heavy cream. You’ll know it’s good when your dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Form the dough into a disk and place on a sheet of parchment paper large enough to roll out your circle. Place another sheet overtop the dough disk (no flour needed, in my opinion) and roll your dough out to fit the tart pan. As I’m rolling, i hover the tart pan over the dough just to see how I’m doing; it will be ready when the dough is larger than the tart pan and has enough excess to press up the sides and have a bit hanging over.


mushroom + goat cheese tart.

mushroom + goat cheese tart.

When you’ve finished, take your top parchment off. Place your tart pan bottom in the center of the dough, and then place the rest of the tart pan, centered around the bottom, over top the crust. Slide your hand under the parchment paper and place your other hand securely on the middle of the tart pan bottom. FLIP OVER. Fun! Peel the parchment paper off the crust and sink your crust gently, using your fingers, into the pan. Still working carefully, press the bottom corners and sides of the dough against the pan. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut any excess of the top. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Prebake your crust:

Deb gives you the option in her book to either prebake or not. I’m superstitious about this, so I always prebake.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Remove your crust from the freezer, gently butter one side of a 12 x 12 piece of aluminum foil, and press into the pan, covering the bottom and sides completely. You don’t need pie weights for this one, in case you’re wondering; it won’t puff. If it begins to, poke a few holes in the offending areas with the tines of a fork. Bake your foil-covered crust for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and remove the foil, then bake uncovered for about 5-8 minutes more until crust is lightly golden and firm to the touch. Remove onto a wire rack to cool slightly.

Reduce your oven temperature to 350˚F.

Make your filling:

Add olive oil and butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for about 30 seconds more. Increase the heat to medium high and add the mushrooms and thyme and cook until the mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir them frequently as you cook them, making sure that they all get their moment in the olive oil and butter. At some point, you’ll see them release their liquid and that liquid will cook out; that’s when they’re done. Stir in the salt and season with black pepper, then transfer to a plate to cool while you make the rest of the filling.

In a large bowl, add the mascarpone and goat cheese. drizzle in the milk, whisking (or using an electric mixer on lowest speed) until combined and smooth. Using a regular whisk (if you didn’t start with one), whisk in your eggs and then stir in your parmesan cheese until everything is evenly distributed. Stir in the mushrooms using a rubber spatula and a folding motion, until your filling is completely combined.

Assemble your tart:

Everyone does this differently, but I’ve found that tarts involving both a liquid and a solid work much better if you add the solid first; it’s so much less messy, because it lets you spread the solid out evenly without sloshing the liquid over the sides. Using a slotted spoon (some of the cheese can come along with), lift out the mushrooms and spread them evenly over the crust, from center to edge. When finished, slowly pour the liquid cheese/milk mixture over top, taking care to get it into all the crevices; it should all fit. Don’t be fearful if it’s right at the top edge: This puffs, but when it does, it crusts over slightly, thereby keeping your liquids in place.

Place carefully in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until puffed and golden on top. You’ll see the edges begin to get golden first, so check at the 30 minute mark specifically to see how the center is doing. Watch until your filling is set, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

You can either allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes and serve it warm, or eat it at room temperature. I’ll say this: it’s much easier to cut the closer it is to room temperature, so keep that in mind when you plan.

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  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 7, 2013 at 9:16 am

    After all your comments about my comments, I have made it my personal goal to be the first commenter on ALL BLOGS! I hope I meet meet my deadline and hit submit before someone beats me to it πŸ˜‰

    Firstly, I really really really hope Deb writes back to you…and reads this post. You’re obviously a true fan of hers and I think it’s so sweet that you aspire to be just like her. I think you’re well on your way, as your blog is one of my absolute favorites πŸ™‚ This recipe looks so so yummy, and being that it originated from Smitten Kitchen and got your thumbs up approval rating, I most certainly need to try it! Especially since I’m kind of obsessed with mushrooms…

    • Reply shannon March 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

      HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?! πŸ™‚ I admire your dedication; seriously, i wish i could do better at getting things done in a timely manner.

      Girl, you make me cry the happy tears so much! If i do get to Deb status someday, i’m building the book tour around where every one of you are, so i can finally meet you in person/come to your house for dinner/take you on the road with me. I promise you it’s delicious; i knew when i tasted it at the luncheon that i had to make it at home; SO good. Mushrooms always seem so right this time of year, and this is packed with them. Does Nate like them? I forget; Mr. Table doesn’t, so i have to get my mushroom fix when he’s not here for dinner.

      • Reply Katherine {eggton} March 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

        My new goal will be to ride Amy’s coat tails and reply to HER first comment on every blog. It will make me Commenter 1A or something. Yippee!

        I had a dream last night that I went to a friend’s wedding and the big meal was had after the ceremony, *on the bus* on the way to the reception venue, where there would presumably be dancing. We all ordered off an Indian take-out menu. Deb’s mushroom tarts would have been a FAR better choice, don’t you think?

        I just loved your recap of the day. I did– truly–feel like I was there. And I can’t wait for Amy and I to introduce you at your luncheon someday. Amy, perhaps we should start coming up with our speech now. How about we do a freestyle rap about Shannon?


        • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 8, 2013 at 11:31 am

          Haha, yes do it, Katherine!

          We totally need to start now…I mean it won’t be long til this luncheon will occur given Shannon’s talent. Hopefully, being that I will be the co-introducer, I won’t get lost in a snowstorm and miss the luncheon. Then I’d be way sadder than Shannon was πŸ™
          Um, I’m not sure about my rap skills. I’m thinking that the intro should somehow involve a baby sheep. ideas? And NO lamb on the menu!

          • shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm

            seriously, because of you two, i’m having to answer my comments from the front and not the dashboard b/c there are SO MANY CONVERSATIONS HAPPENING. I don’t know, Amy…i think you have some raps in your somewhere, right? I think you have a lot of time to hone your skills…and buy a baby sheep for the events/tour bus. Because both of you are coming with me.

    • Reply maria March 10, 2016 at 9:32 am

      Made this twice, just so perfectly delicious! The crust is a keeper for sure!

      • Reply shannon March 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        Maria, so happy you liked this! It’s been too long since I made this; I’m going to have to change that soon. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Brianne March 7, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I got an email from Deb Perelman once. I felt like a total rockstar. That was almost two years ago, and I just found it, reread it, and now I feel like a rockstar all over again.

    I’ve been cooking from her book all week, thanks to you! Everything has been delicious, of course. (The mussels and oven fries? Manna from heaven, for real.) In getting over my aversion to mushrooms, I’ve made many a sauteed mushroom dish and a super-mushroomy soup, but this tart makes me nervous. Although I made the artichoke heart stuffed shells last night, which I was also nervous about, and guess what? They were delicious. So I’m probably worried for nothing.

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Brianne, that gives me hope that I may get an email back too! I know she’s on the road with the tour and all, so i have patience. I’m waiting patiently. for sure, just sitting here, waiting, but patiently.

      aw yay! She really loves those mussels and oven fries: I think the story surrounding that pick was that some people were coming over and she just needed something quick and easy to make, and she picked these; you don’t instantly think of either as “quick and easy” but evidently they are (and so fancy-rustic for gatherings, right?) i must try them; i ADORE mussels, and i haven’t had them in ages.

      I understand the nervousness; there are big ole chunks of mushrooms in here. definitely i think you’d love the flavors, so maybe if you sliced them smaller? i mean, hey; you’re making it for yourself, right? no need to giant-chop mushrooms for photographic purposes. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Brianne March 13, 2013 at 6:58 am

        She’ll get back to you, for sure! You’re her, just a few years before now. You know, all awesome and stuff.

        Made those oven fries again last night. The best oven fries I’ve ever had in under 45 minutes?! I wish I had a brain like hers.

        • Reply shannon March 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm

          You all have an unreasonable amount of confidence in me. Where does that come from? πŸ™‚

          OMG now i have to make the mussels and oven fries when i return to my home post-vacation. Seriously, it’s like i can feel them singing to me.

  • Reply Ashley March 7, 2013 at 10:59 am

    What an awesome experience, even during the luncheon portion of the day! I suspected it already from simply reading her blog, but you’ve cemented the fact that Deb would be one heck of a mentor for those in the kitchen and those blogging. I know I need plenty of help, especially in the latter arena! Plus she’d be great to hang out with and hash out ideas. Oh man.

    Your “Someday?” is a “For sure, definitely”. You’ve got an awesome voice and a rare way of looking at and organizing things clearly. Concise will come later, but it’s not even that necessary if you can explain things in a way that makes sense, excites people, and helps people. Which I say you do already. So there. I hope you come to Ohio during your future book tour and I’ll totally hook you up!

    Also, the tart looks amazing. It’s been forever since I made a tart, sweet or savory. It’s time to remedy that! Oh, try her butternut squash galette, it’s to die for!!!!

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      You all have so much faith in me it makes me a little teary. πŸ™‚ I don’t understand it, but i’ll take it, and it makes me so excited (as usual) that i started blogging. The day was really great; i learned so much! I can’t say it about every cookbook author (or author in general) but really such a cool perspective on a person to see them “in writing” all the time and then finally get to see the “real” them. I’m going to make it a point to go to more author events in general around here (and not just cookbook authors, either.)

      Make the tart! You know, i go through phases where i make no tarts, and i never know why. For me, except for a sometimes-haggle with the crust part, tarts are one of the easiest things to make. I’m marking that butternut galette down; LOVE galettes and just the way they are.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats March 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    First, this tart looks amazing.


    Third, I’M SO HAPPY THAT I DON’T HAVE TO GO BACK AND TOUCH UP MY OLD POSTS! Although there are a couple that I probably will eventually at least update photos for…. because really, some of them are pretty freaking terrible. All of yours are totally acceptable though πŸ™‚

    I also totally hope that Deb emails you back! I’m devastated that you missed out on your second encounter. I’ve been talking Aaron’s ear off about it nonstop. (PS – he is also super sad for you)

    And GOSH DARNIT I REALLY NEED THIS BOOK! First I have to go to Ikea and buy more book cases lol.

    And I am 110% behind her on the Kale. (Please don’t throw things at me) I was terrified of it until recently (when I realized I couldn’t taste it when I made my pineapple kale juice) and then you really got me into it with that ridiculously good kale salad recipe, and I think even then it’s just because it’s chopped so finely that the texture is barely there.

    I keep TRYING to learn about SEO but once I get past the words “Search Engine Optimization” my eyes glaze over and my brain turns off… can’t help it -_-

    • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Nope, i’m just THAT GOOD. No but seriously, the first thing I do when I get to work is get my breakfast and check if my favorite blogs have posted anything new πŸ™‚ Work can wait…

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      first, thank you. πŸ™‚

      doesn’t that make you gleeful!?!? When i heard that i almost did one of those things where you “amen” yourself out of your seat. I held back, but i wanted to. I’ve been obsessing on and off about if I should do the whole touchup thing, and i’ve switched out a few photos here and there, but never rewritten anything. I love keeping it almost like a little time capsule of yourself; and besides, it’s dated, so anyone says anything and you can be all “hey, i didn’t even know what i was doing then!”

      tell aaron i say thanks for listening/feeling bad for me. i’m really stoked about hopefully getting an email back. it took me three days to compose in my head b/c i’m wordy *ahem* and i didn’t want to ramble on. well, i didn’t want to ramble on to the point of insanity. i rambled.

      GET THE BOOK! My bookcase is going to fall soon, i’m sure of it. i need to get a matching one when i get back from Florida, for real; max capacity.

      Confession; i wasn’t always sold on kale either; i was WAY late to the kale ballgame already, and when i first tried it, i thought “meh” because to me, it just tastes like raw brussels sprout. But, like raw brussels sprouts, you can do things with kale that make it semi-magical, and i appreciate that. i won’t throw things at you. I’m still a little upset about the beets. πŸ™‚

      OMG i KNOW: so nerdy. and i’m sorry, but who among us is so into beefing up on search engine optimization? just saying…we all seem pretty into cookies, and salad, and talking about things to each other, but SEO? no.

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island March 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    That was an amazing post, from start to finish. To be honest I don’t visit Smitten Kitchen that often, I find I just don’t ‘click’ with her recipes all that much and I have to admit I sometimes avoid sites that are incredibly popular out of sheer spite! But after reading this, you’ve made me want to get to know her better. And your tart and photos look absolutely professional—great job!

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      Oh, Sue, thank you so much! I’m happy you liked the post! It took me forever to write (I know i’m probably not supposed to admit it but i mean, it was SO LONG). πŸ™‚ I avoid quite a few “popular” sites also…so many commenters, and i get like, nervous to interact sometimes with the super popular ones, too. Deb i’ve carried with me since she was popular, but before she was WAY popular, but i can see her site not being for everyone in terms of recipes. Well put; you do sort of “click” with certain people who must be craving the same things you are or have the same food sensibilities (like how when you post something i’m always “whoa: how did she know i wanted to eat that?”) πŸ™‚ Give her a peek when you have time; I think you’d like some of her things. She’s got a great archive.
      Thank you for my tart photos compliment! Good lighting day; a rarity as of late. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Sue, I’m totally with you on avoiding popular sites out of spite! (or maybe it’s jealous a bit on my part ) And I also don’t click with most of Smitten’s recipes…BUT when you do find one you click with, you can guarantee that it will come out well! That’s mainly why I go to her site.

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      i meant to say that; i sometimes DO avoid big popular sites out of spite. is that bad? It’s not like, i don’t know…yes, it’s jealousy probably. I’m not even going to erase that.
      Amy, i second that; you don’t have to like all of her stuff for sure, but if there is one thing you can always know, it’s that if you make one of her things, it will turn out well. If you need something that can’t be screwed up, it’s a great resource.

  • Reply Emma March 8, 2013 at 4:51 am

    I think I avoid SK and a lot of big name blogs because my near-favorite part of blogging is the community, and for bloggers with a bajillion comments already, there is a slim to none chance of finding a fun chatty community like there is here! No spite here though:)

    Shannon, you promised mushrooms and you delivered MUSHROOMS! I love it. I have made many a mushroom tart/quiche/turnover/you name it, but I have a) never used a cornmeal crust, and b) never included goat cheese. Good call, dawg, good call.

    • Reply Katherine {eggton} March 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Emma, what kind of cat do you have there in your little photo? It’s gorgeous!

      • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:52 pm


      • Reply Emma March 12, 2013 at 4:07 am

        Ohhhh I know!! She is sooooo cuuuuute. She’s part Siamese and I think part Ragdoll – she likes to flop:)

    • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 8, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I second Katherine’s cat compliment and TOTALLY think that you should let me paint him/her πŸ˜‰

      Also, I totally agree with you on popular blogs, and on the blogging community…but I think that even when Shannon is an extraordinarily famous blogger, she will still totally respond to each and every comment like she does now πŸ™‚

      • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

        this goes down in history, btw, as the most comment-bombed post i have. it’s so awesome how much everyone likes each other here; i feel a little like Amanda Palmer right now. Just a small bit, because she’s actually famous.

        • Reply Emma March 12, 2013 at 4:09 am

          I don’t know who Amanda Palmer is, but for a second i thought you were talking about Laura Palmer, and wondered why you’d want to be likened to a body wrapped in plastic. Not the case.

          • Brianne March 13, 2013 at 6:55 am

            Who killed Laura Palmer?? (Sorry, I had to!)

          • shannon March 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

            did we all watch Twin Peaks when we were younger? Aren’t you guys younger than me? HOW DID YOU SEE IT?!? πŸ™‚

          • shannon March 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

            is it wrong to admit you just gave me a super good cake idea? I can’t speak any more about it…

          • Emma March 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

            I hope your cake is wrapped in plastic. Or is an owl with the log lady next to it. Or is made out of 100 doughnuts covered with coffee frosting. Or is Leo’s face. Ororor! My mind is racing with possibilities. So many possibilities.

          • shannon March 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm

            i’m totally hiring you as “creative consultant” to my cake.

      • Reply Emma March 12, 2013 at 4:07 am

        YES! I really want to…. I have a few super pictures that would translate well to paintings, I just need to dig them up!

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      You’re so right; the “community” part of the blogger experience isn’t there once you start getting like, 130 comments the first hour your post goes up; who could handle that? And i also avoid big-comment-heavy sites b/c i guess i feel intimidated and/or lost in the shuffle.
      We really are a fun chatty community, aren’t we? It really is just one big ongoing conversation, and i love that. I have zero plans to stop that, that’s for sure.
      Reason I’m happy I’m me: I bet Deb never had any of her friends call her “dawg.” πŸ™‚

  • Reply shannon March 8, 2013 at 11:42 am

    oh my goodness, WHAT is going on over here. TO YOUR CORNERS, girls! so…much…commentbombing. πŸ™‚ *i love it*

  • Reply Willow March 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Oh my gosh, Shannon, this post is AWESOME! Before you even said it, I was literally thinking ‘I feel like I was there!’ – thank you so much for doing such a thorough post! I’ve always been a Smitten Kitchen fan, but have yet to buy the book… it’s on my list, though! And this tart sounds amazing, I love that you added goat cheese. I’m not a big fan of goat cheese normally, but this is exactly where I’d want it! *LOVE*

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:56 pm

      Willow, then my mission has been accomplished; lots of people said that Deb wasn’t stopping by their neck of the woods, so i wanted to make sure everyone felt like they were included because i was lucky enough to be able to go.
      I’ll say in this one, the goat cheese is background, but there. it’s not the goat cheese that stands out in a salad, let’s say, but it sort of mingles with the other cheeses and plays a graceful and subtle supporting role. And the mushrooms…OOO the mushrooms. definitely they’re the star.

  • Reply movita beaucoup March 9, 2013 at 5:38 am

    This was so lovely! And I feel like we’re all best friends now – Deb included. I’m glad to hear that we have so much in common and that maybe I shouldn’t feel quite so crappy about my disgustingly horrible blog posts of yesteryear. I’ve had Deb’s cookbook on my amazon wishlist for ages (and even gave a copy away for Ginger 2012). Maybe I should finally get a copy for myself…

    • Reply shannon March 9, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      You would love to meet her; she’s very frank, open, honest, and doesn’t care one bit i think about being a “famous person with a cookbook” – honestly, i think she loves to meet people and talk about food. So she would fit in here wonderfully. πŸ™‚ It’s a relief, right, to not be concerned with horrid first-posts? I don’t look at mine often, just because i’d be tempted to change something, and i can’t drive myself crazy over it. What’s there, is there.
      I can’t say it enough; get the cookbook. It’s one of very few i’ve seen or that are in my library that i can say i’d make every single thing out of.

  • Reply Monica March 9, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Your tart looks mouth-wateringly delicious! You did Deb proud, for sure! I usually just admire and gawk at all of her savory dishes so it’s great to see someone make it come to life.

    Loved reading about your Deb experience. I’m really amazed at what she can do in her tiny oven. When she talks about her smaller than standard size baking sheets and whatnot, I keep thinking you really can do a lot without a lot of frills if you truly want to. Lately, she’s inspired me to caramelize onions. I think I’ve only done it twice in my life. In my impatience, I typically rush it and end up with just cooked onions… (I think I’m rambling now… : )

    • Reply shannon March 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you, Monica! It was fun having the experience of making something AFTER seeing it live and in person; easy to know if you got it right or not! πŸ™‚

      That’s a big thing, i think; people need to know that you don’t have to have the best of everything to make it work in the kitchen. I think some people are scared off before they even begin, simply because they think their oven is to old or small, or their cookware is busted. Granted, you need a few reliable things, but you can figure out the rest as you go.
      Oh, boy…caramelized onions; my favorite!! To do them right, it does take a certain amount of time (and yes, i rush mine sometimes too, but when you do them right, the results are sooooo worth the wait. you go on and ramble, girl. it’s kinda what i’m here for. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Wendy March 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Shannon, I agree with you on so many point in this post, I don’t know where to start. First, focusing on the here and now, your recipes and photos very much remind me of Smitten Kitchen. The recipes are researched, worked on, and tweaked so that your readers can rely on the recipes always working. Smitten Kitchen has always been my go-to site for reliable. Your photos are beautiful. Like Deb’s they are real without incongruous prop and frills. I only got to listen to Deb’s Left Bank Book talk (no meet and greet) but I sat here nodding my head as I read your post. She is so real, and genuine, and friendly. After meeting her, really wish that you lived in her building or had a child in Jacob’s preschool so that you could have casual conversations (or sit down to coffee!) on a regular basis. I have been to a number of author talks (we have been getting some big names in St. Louis in the last few years) and I have never come away feeling this way. Deb is in person who she is on her blog. That is certainly something worth emulating. I haven’t tried this recipe yet from the BOOK (which I ordered pre-sale) but I’m drooling over your tart and will have to make it soon!

    • Reply shannon March 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Wendy, i am beyond flattered at your kind words; I’d love to think i measure up to the Deb standard (or will someday!) So happy you got to listen to the Left Bank talk! Doesn’t she sound so very natural when speaking? I loved that…it wasn’t forced, or fake, or canned in any way, which was great. You are not the first person to wish for me (because yes, i wish it too) that i somehow could live in Deb’s building and that *somehow* our kids could have play dates and we could sit and yak at the playground some days. πŸ™‚
      I’m leaving for florida for a little over a week tomorrow, and i’m taking a copy of Deb’s book down to my mom. I’m planning on making more recipes (hopefully) while down there. I’d love to see how your mushroom tart turns out!

  • Reply Amrita March 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    LOVE! Thanks for compiling a list, I thought about doing that but my list would be much shorter because I have a terrible memory… I do remember she said she hates the words “veggies” and “sammies”, so feel free to add it to the list πŸ™‚
    I love Deb.

    Also, I have gone into my blog and changed some of my old photos to better ones (in addition to amending recipes so they’re more accurate) but only because I happened to make the item again and I love food photography (my original reason for starting a blog in the first place)… But I also have more free time on my hands since I don’t have a kid or a proper day job πŸ˜›

    • Reply shannon March 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Amrita, i had some fingers of fury going on while Deb was talking – stupid me, i forget to bring a pen, so it was a struggle to get it all down in the phone. Veggies and sammies, huh? Interesting! I can see sammies – i don’t love that one either – but veggies is such a normal word by now. Veg, maybe. Now i’m going to feel weird calling them veggies. πŸ™‚

      I love her too!!

      I think as long as people aren’t like, constantly working backwards to amend their stuff, that’s so reasonable; i’ve done that a few times with old photos (I know for sure my vanilla wafers from early on got an update, same reason as you, and i’m sure there were a few others here and there) and that just seems natural. Especially if your love of photography got you into blogging; certainly switching out photos can be easier than wading through old words. I doubt anyone wants to do that, even IF they don’t have a kid or a proper day job. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog March 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    This is such a lovely post, Shannon. I now feel like I, too, know Deb. Thank you. It sounds like you had a great time at the luncheon despite your experience with the traffic. I can’t wait to try out some of her recipes.

    Your version of Deb’s tart looks wonderul. I love that it’s loaded with tons of earthy mushrooms and creamy goat cheese. Yum!

    • Reply shannon March 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Yay! Mission accomplished if you feel like you know Deb! I did truly have a great time; i feel a little silly focusing so much on the bad part of the day when the good part was there all along, you know? Guess maybe we all do that, but i’m happy to have snapped out of it; certainly i loved hanging with her and the entire group at the luncheon, and the experience is one i wouldn’t trade.

      It was so good! You know, Mr. Table doesn’t like mushrooms, so i don’t make things like this often. When i do, i remember why i shouldn’t care what Mr. Table doesn’t like and just do it. πŸ™‚

  • Reply shannon March 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    All of you:
    I just looked and realized that with all this comment-bombing and back-and-forth conversing amongst us, i have over 40 comments on this post. Thoughts?
    1. I love all of you.
    2. Let’s do this again. Maybe when I get my act together and post something (soon).
    3. Feel free to hang out here anytime.

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