It’s the season for comfort foods—which makes it the perfect time to page through Melina Hammer’s cookbook, A Year at Catbird Cottage. The Accord-based photographer and self-taught cook makes the most of local ingredients. The following recipe for wild mushroom-potato-onion tart would be delicious additions to your holiday table.
Tucked away at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains is a charming, one-bedroom bed & breakfast that Melina Hammer runs out of her home in Accord. Known as the Catbird Cottage, Hammer and her husband welcome guests to their cozy retreat in the Catskills and feed them hearty, seasonal meals. A food photographer by trade, Hammer “made a deep dive into cooking through the relationship I had with The New York Times, cooking, styling, and shooting food for features.” She does it all at Catbird—from foraging and fermenting to searing and roasting. “I also make a mean cocktail,” adds Hammer. She spent two years writing, cooking, and of course, photographing her debut cookbook, A Year at Catbird Cottage: Recipes for a Nourished Life, which serves up over 100 recipes that highlight the bounty of the Hudson Valley, as well as foraging guides and sustainable practices. “I wanted to create a native plant and kitchen garden, forage food right outside my door, and live each day witnessing the many creatures great and small,” explains Hammer. “My cookbook is an adventure and a love story which unfolds, season to season.”
Description: This versatile dish makes good use of meaty mushrooms. Sautéing the onions and mushrooms intensifies their character. This tart can serve as breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Yields 4 servings
1 package prepared puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed in the refrigerator
All-purpose flour, for dusting
12 oz. any fresh wild mushrooms, or a mix of hen of the woods, oyster mushrooms, king boletes, or chanterelles
Extra-virgin olive oil
Full-fat buttermilk (to paint the crust)
3 oz. Gruyère, grated
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced ¹/₈-in thick on a mandolin
½ to 1 cup caramelized onions
Leaves from 5–9 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper and flake salt
3 stems fresh tarragon