With the smoked mushrooms, blue cheese and hint of tarragon sitting on crisp, buttery puff pastry, these easy tarts are full-on comfort food.
These are the type of tarts I can eat and eat and eat either as small tarts as in the photos, as a larger tart for sharing at the table or as miniature versions for canapés.
The rich, slightly sweet and tangy Dolcelatte works so well with the mushrooms and just a little tarragon brings it all together. All these tarts need is a crisp green salad and you have what I think is a fabulous light meal or starter.
I turn some of the cooked mushrooms into a quick mushroom pâté by blending them with cream and seasoning, and spreading or piping on the pastry, but you can simply place the cooked (but cooled) mushrooms as they are onto the pastry base.
I used a selection of mushrooms, including chestnut, Portobello and Oyster mushrooms, but go for whatever variety/varieties you want.
The tarts can also be assembled a day or two in advance and popped into the oven to cook when you are ready.
Smoked mushrooms: is that really a thing?
It is. Honestly! Mushrooms which lend themselves very well indeed to being smoked. I used oak chips here but cherry wood and hickory are other favourites of mine.
Now you don’t need to smoke the mushrooms, of course, but if you have a BBQ or an indoor smoker, the smoking adds such a great layer of flavour.
I only smoke some of the mushrooms in the dish: between about a third and a half, so that the tarts are not over-powered. As they smoke, some of the moisture comes out of the mushrooms and you get some smoky liquour, but don’t throw it away: use it in the sauce.
But honestly, if you don’t smoke the mushrooms you will still have a seriously good tarts. Just go straight from stage 1 of the recipe to stage 3.
Recipe: smoked mushroom and Dolcelatte tarts – makes 6 individual ones or 1 large one
- large sheet of all-butter puff pastry: about 400-500g
- 500g mushrooms of choice (or a mixture)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- juice and finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
- 100g Dolcelatte
- 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- about 80g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 150ml single cream or full-fat milk
- a few tarragon leaves, finely chopped
- a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- a few drops of truffle oil, optional
- salt and pepper
(1) Roll out the pastry (if not already rolled out) and trim the edges. Cut into 6 identical squares, place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof and chill.
(2) Take about 150g of the mushrooms and chop them into quarters. Place in the smoker on the rack and smoke on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, by which time the smoke will have permeated into the mushrooms wonderfully.
NB: you can smoke more of the mushrooms if you want a smokier finish to the dish
(3) Chop the remaining mushrooms into smallish pieces. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and add the onions. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften slightly before adding all the mushrooms, including the smoked mushrooms, the lemon zest, tarragon, garlic and a little salt and pepper. Fry for about 10 minutes over a medium heat.
(4) Remove about half of these sautéed mushrooms and stir in the parsley and truffle oil (if using). Set aside. Continue to cook the remaining mushrooms for another 15 minutes or so so that they get very soft and their flavour intensfies.
(5) Add the reserved smoking liquid and the cream or milk to the pan. Stir well and let it bubble for about 5 minutes or until you have a fairly thick sauce that coats the mushrooms.
(6) Stir in the Dolcelatte and most of the lemon juice and transfer to a blender to blitz until smooth. If the mixture seems too thick to blitz easily, add a little more cream or milk. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon if needed. Set aside to cool.
NB: this makes a wonderful mushroom pâté in its own right – perfect with buttered toast!
Assembling the tarts:
(7) With a sharp knife, cut a border about 1cm around each pastry square, making sure you don’t cut all the way through. If you want to egg-wash the border to give a golden rim, use your finger to do this and be careful not to let any of the egg drip down the sides: this would hinder the rise of the pastry rim.
(8) Spoon or pipe the cooled mushroom paste (or pâté) onto the centre of the tarts and top with the sautéed mushrooms. You can add more Dolcelatte to the tops if you prefer.
(9) Bake in an oven preheated to 190C (fan) for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown and well risen.