Two-Cheese Walnut Cream Pie

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This recipe puts an Upper Midwestern spin on Sfoglia Di Funghi Alla Creme Di Noci (Mushroom Pie with Walnut Cream) from “The Silver Spoon,” a classic Italian cookbook. Our adaptation incorporates Minnesota chevre and Wisconsin parmesan to add a bit more depth of flavor without compromising texture or taste. If you’re a walnut fan, you can halve the chevre and bring out the walnut flavor more clearly. Vegetarians can easily drop the ham, and, in general, the whole recipe is remarkably easy to adapt to the left-over contents of your fridge and / or the nature of your gathering. (If you cook up a good brunch version of this recipe, send it in — should be easy to enough to do.)

You’ll be surprised by how easy this recipe is to execute — there are very few places for anything to go wrong, and it’s a surprisingly straightforward and forgiving formula for such a lovely looking (and tasting) final product. You could make your own puff pastry if you wanted to, but that would greatly add to the labor of the pie… and, for this application, the frozen stuff works quite nicely. We found ours at Lunds.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Two-Cheese Walnut Cream Pie
Adapted from The Silver Spoon
Serves 8-10

Walnut Cream Filling

1 tbsp butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
&#188 c Sartori SarVecchio or other aged parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
4 oz Stickney Hill Farm chevre or other plain chevre
1 egg
&#8531 c uncured deli ham from Lorentz Meats or other local producer, chopped
scant 1 c shelled walnuts, chopped roughly
salt and pepper
&#188 c heavy cream

Topping

&#190 lbs mixed mushrooms — crimini, porcini, shiitake, and white mushrooms are all fine

Crust

all-purpose flour for dusting
11 oz puff pastry dough (one sheet), thawed if frozen
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, halved

1. If you’re using frozen puff pastry dough, starting thawing it out (about 30 minutes).

2. Melt the butter in a small skillet. Sautee the shallot until it’s softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they’re a coarse meal.

4. Add the egg, ham, walnuts, parmesan, and shallot and process until smooth.

5. Scrape into a bowl. Mix in your chevre, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, parboil the mushrooms in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain them, pat dry (they don’t have to be bone dry, just not sopping wet), and slice thickly.

7. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

8. Sprinkle a pie pan with flour. Unfold your puff pastry and place it into the pie pan. Line with baking parchment, fill with pie weights, chain, or baking beans, and bake blind for 10 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, melt butter in skillet and add the split garlic clove. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove the garlic.

10. Remove the filling mixture from the refrigerator, and stir in the cream.

11. Remove the parchment and weights from the pie shell and bring the oven temperature up to 400° F. Pour the walnut cream filling into the pie shell.

12. Arrange your mushrooms in a decorative shape on top of the filling. If you’ve got corners (from a square puff pastry) hanging over the side of your pan, you can optionally trim them and put them on top of your filling as edible decorative elements. Brush with the rim of the pastry with garlic-flavored butter and bake for 30 minutes.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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4 Comments

  1. artsy 03/02/2010

    Hi James, that’s funny that you are running this now because a couple of weeks ago I thought of a recipe I hadn’t made in years, called ‘Double Cheese Macaroni’ that I used to make at the hippie restaurant I worked at in Phila. in the 70’s, called ‘The C.A. Eatery’ on UPenn Campus. There are no mushrooms in it, but it does have walnuts and is a luscious combination. And I actually found a pretty close rendition online-

    http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/15896/double-cheese-macaroni.html

  2. Author

    Artsy, that looks pretty darn good. In general, walnuts really give a pleasant substance / supporting flavor to the rest of the cast and crew… they definitely make this recipe as tasty as it is.

  3. jane 03/02/2010

    Walnuts are a “super food” so this dish is quite healthy!

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/superfoods-everyone-needs

    I predict I will make this pie before the week is out (or maybe for Sunday brunch).

  4. artsy 03/02/2010

    and one other thing I just remembered….when my grandmother tried my ‘double-cheese macaroni’ for the first time, she was amazed at how ‘meat-like’ the walnuts were………she hadn’t had many vegetarian dishes I would guess, and she was impressed..