Tarragon, Mushroom, and Leek Tart

Tarragon, Mushroom, and Leek Tart

 

It’s starting to cool down a bit here, not enormously, but in the evenings there is a slight chill in the air;  for me, that means that I can start using the oven more often, and I love it!

I have an obsession with all the ingredients of this tart, but the most recent one is tarragon.  I had never tried it before a couple of years ago, it really isn’t an ingredient readily available in Miami or the Bahamas.  After moving to Spain I started noticing it in the market, and wondered if it tasted as good as it smelled.  I think it is a definite acquired taste, but I liked it more and more every time.

photo (28)

This is a very simple tart to make, but just because its simple doesn’t mean it isn’t elegant enough to serve at a dinner party.  I love these types of meals, unfussy, rustic and über delicious.  Perfect to serve as a starter, or as a main with a simple lamb’s lettuce salad.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

For the shell:

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

1 1/2 tbsp lard

2 – 3 tbsp ice water

 

For the filling:

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced (cremini or white)

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

3/4 cup tarragon, chopped

3 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Gruyère or comte cheese, grated

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 425F (220C).  In a medium bowl place the flour and salt, mix well.  Add the butter and lard, and with your hands or a pastry cutter, mix until all the fats are incorporated.  Add the water, one tbsp at a time, and mix with your hands to form a ball, and just until the dough sticks together.  Add more water if needed (but I only used 2 tbsp).  Wrap in plastic film, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Roll out dough on a clean and floured surface.  Roll out to about 1/8 thick, and place in tart mold, trimming the edges.  Cover with aluminum foil and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Remove from freezer, and add pie weights or beans, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Uncover and bake for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, thyme and salt.  Raise the heat to high and cook until the mushrooms have let out their liquids and it has evaporated.  Add the tarragon cook for another minute, then take off heat.  Let cool.

In a medium bowl, add the eggs, cream, cheese, black pepper and nutmeg.  Mix well.  Add the cooled mushroom mixture.

When your tart has finished pre-baking, lower the oven to 375F (190C).  Place the mushroom mix in the tart shell, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.  Let cool 20 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

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Summer Cherry Tart

It’s cherry season!! Cherries. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  Ok, ok…..I won’t.  But boy are they amazing.  Little tiny morsels bursting with sweet, tart juice.  I could eat them all day.  But strangely enough, I hardly ever cook with them.  Well, not strangely enough, they don’t last enough in my fridge to make it into any dessert.  I eat them like popcorn.  They’re addictive, and healthy.

But, I wanted to make a sort of pie with them, no, a more fancy version.  A tart.  Oui oui, I wanted to go all fancy on them, give them the sophistication they deserve.  Hence I came up with this, it’s not a clafouti, and it isn’t a pie….it’s a tart with a baked custard.  But the custard isn’t overpowering so that it won’t let the full flavors of the cherries shine through.  I wanted them to be the starring role, not the side-show.  I love this dessert because it isn’t overly sweet.  And the crust has just the right amount of saltiness, and it melts and crumbles in your mouth.

It’s great for tea time, (if you still do that) or for a light dessert.  You can add a little crème anglaise, or some vanilla ice cream, but I love it just the way it is.  (Cue Billy Joel).

I have to say, the crust is the most confounding thing.  In french it’s a Sable, which basically means it’s a b*tch to work with.  It’s kind of like a short crust, so when you’re rolling it, you have to be extremely patient and careful…..cause this sucker is like a petulant child, tearing and breaking at a whim.  But the final result is well worth it.  Just make sure to keep your work surface dusted with plenty of flour, your hands and rolling-pin too.   And the amount of liquid, it’s better to add a small amount first, then continue adding tsp by tsp…because if you add too much, then you’ve reached a point of no return with this dough.

Ok, so if that last paragraph didn’t scare you and you still want to give this a whirl, here’s what you’re going to need”

Short crust dough (recipe follows)

1 egg

40 g flour

40 g butter, melted and cooled

1 tbsp Kirsch (or cherry liqueur)

30 g sugar

75 ml of cold milk

1 Vanilla pod, cut lengthwise

450 g pitted cherries

Powdered sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, crack your egg and add your flour, mix but not too much.  Add the melted butter and Kirsch, then add your sugar and milk.  Scrape the vanilla seeds into your mixture.

Roll out your dough into a 1/4 of an inch disk, and make sure it is an inch larger than the tart pan you’re going to use.  Put it in the fridge and let cool for about 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg celsius, and with a fork poke the bottom of your dough, cover with parchment, fill with pie weights or beans, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove your weights, and bake another 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 200 celsius.  Arrange the cherries on the crust, and cover with your milk mixture.  Bake for about 25-35 minutes, the top should be a golden brown and when you insert a knife it should come out clean.  Place over a rack to cool, then remove the sides of the tart pan and let it cool to room temperature.

Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Short crust dough recipe:

250 g flour

150 g butter, chilled and cut into squares

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk (more if needed, but tsp by tsp)

In a large bowl place the flour, salt and butter.  With a pastry cutter, or your fingers crumble until you get a wet sand texture. Add the egg and milk and form dough into a tight ball.  If it is too crumbly, add a little more milk.

Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla