As the summer tentatively approaches, I get so excited about food that can be eaten outdoors: whether at a picnic, a BBQ or even just on the patio if there is the merest teasing of sun, I love to eat al fresco. This tart is one of those I often have outside but, of course, it makes a wonderful starter indoors for a less informal meal!
Mushrooms that have been cooked down thoroughly have a more intense flavour and this, combined with the sweetness of slowly roasted garlic, gives a tart filling that packs a flavour punch. I just used standard field mushrooms here but you can use any mushrooms, or even a variety.
A warm tart is, I think, crucial: a savoury tart or quiche served straight from the fridge is not at its best to eat! I often serve my mushroom tarts with a simple dip of goat’s cheese, chives, black pepper and a spritz of lemon juice. For the mini tarts here, I piped goat’s cheese mixture on top and finished with a crisp Parmesan tuile.
The pastry is a standard shortcrust that has been flavoured with smoked paprika, which also gives a lovely rust colour that contasts, I think, so well with the almost jet-black filling.
However, a standard shortcrust pastry (bought or homemade) works very well.
Getting the right set for a tart
As I teach my students at school, the tricks with an egg-based tart such as this are:
- not getting too much air into the filling (stirring rather than whisking!)
- the gentle cooking of the filling
Too much air in there, combined with too high a temperature will result in the filling rising up like a soufflé. The egg will cook far too quickly as the proteins coagulate rapidly, so that in the length of time the tart is in the oven, you end up with a filling that is like rubbery scrambled eggs!
A low temperature, and for a longer time, will be enough to just set the egg so that it has the texure of softened butter and eats like a dream. When baked, the tart should have just a gentle wobble (but not at all runny!), so that as it cools it will set to perfection.
The inclusion of another liquid such as cream or milk, helps the eggs set gently without over-cooking, as well as adding a lovely richness. You could also use low-fat yoghurt which adds a delicious subtle tang.
My post here has full tips for shortcrust pastry, including lining a tin, baking blind and ensuring you get a crumbly, short pastry.
Recipe: mushroom and roasted garlic tart – serves 6-8
- 140g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 35g unsalted butter
- 35g lard
- cold water to mix
- about 600g (large punnet) of mushrooms, finely chopped (or blitzed in a food processor)
- about 60g unsalted butter
- 300ml single cream
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks (freeze the whites – ideal for macarons or meringues)
- 50g finely grated Parmesan
- 2 large bulbs of garlic, oven roasted whole*
- 2 fat cloves of raw garlic, peeled and crushed
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped chives
To finish (for mini tarts):
- soft goat’s cheese, cream cheese or Boursin
- chopped chives
- Parmesan tuile on top**
*pop the whole garlic onto a tray and in an oven set to about 150C for an hour or so – or until it goes very soft. When cool, you can squeeze out the soft, sweet cooked garlic.
**place teaspoons of grated Parmesan onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof and bake at 180C for 4-5 minutes intil bubbling. Cool a few minutes and use a knife to transfer them to a cooling rack to fully cool and crisp up.
(1) To make the pastry, put the ingredients apart from the water into a food processor and pulse untiol the fat is vroken down and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add enough water, about a tablespoon at a time, still pulsing briefly, until it comes together as a soft dough. Wrap and chill for at least half an hour. You can, of course, rub the fat into the flour if doing it by hand.
NB: I often make a larger batch of pastry, split it intoportions and freeze for later use.
(2) Line an 8″ deep tart case (or several smaller ones) and bake blind – see my pastry guide here for how to do this.
(3) For the filling, heat the butter in a large pan and add the mushrooms and seasoning. Cook for about 30-40 minutes over a low to medium heat until the mushrooms cook right down and become very soft.
(4) Add the raw garlic, the roasted garlic, the Parmesan and the chives and stir well. Add the cream, egg yolks and whole eggs and stir to incorporate.
(5) Pour the filling into the baked tart case and bake at 150°C (fan) for about 45-50 minutes for a larger tart or about 25 minutes for smaller ones: the filling should be lightly firm to the touch but with a very slight wobble. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.