This is a useful, and slightly different starter.

Useful because these tarts can be made ahead of time and reheated, or they can be frozen, but in either case BE SURE TO WRAP INDIVIDUALLY IN BAKING PAPER or they will stick together. Don’t use foil, as that tends to tear onto the defrosting tarts.

It’s slightly different because of the Taleggio, an ancient cheese (eaten with relish by Romans), from northern Italy. It’s a washed-rind cheese with the intense flavour you would expect, and a nuttiness which goes well with the earthy mushrooms.

If you have any pastry left, grate in a little extra cheese if you have it, make leaves, bake with the tarts but take them out after five minutes or so, and use them to garnish the lettuce leaves.

You could make this into a lunch for four by not bothering to cut out the circles, but just scoring inside the pastry sheet and spreading the mushroom mixture over the central shape, scattering over the Taleggio and remaining sprigs of thyme. Presented in this way it may need an additional five minutes in the oven.

 

Recipe for garlicky mushrooms with taleggio on puff pastry beds

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 50g/2 oz butter
  • 1 banana shallot
  • 250g/9 oz mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp mascarpone or crème fraiche
  • 1 egg
  • A few stems of chopped flatleaf parsley
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • 320g/11 oz sheet of puff pastry – the best quality you can find, all-butter
  • 100g/4 oz Taleggio cheese
  • Pinch of Urfa pepper flakes, or some freshly ground black pepper
  • A few lettuce leaves for garnish
  • Thick balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsps Tartare sauce (quick and easy to make yourself, follow this link, or bought)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
  2. In a large frying pan gently melt the butter, while you peel and chop the shallot. Add the shallot, continue to fry gently until just translucent.
  3. Clean (and if necessary peel) the mushrooms. Chop roughly, Add to the shallot, together with the salted garlic, the pepper or pepper flakes, and a few of the thyme leaves (retain six small sprigs). Continue cooking until the moisture which comes out of the mushrooms has evaporated.
  4. Leave to cool, then add the mascarpone or crème fraiche and the egg. Mix well. Snip in the parsley. Stir again.
  5. Meanwhile take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut six circles out of it, and, with a knife, score a smaller circle (not all the way through the pastry) about a couple of cm/½” in. Put onto a buttered, or silicone-lined baking tray.
  6. Divide the Taleggio into 12 small slices.
  7. Divide the mushroom mix between the six inner circles. Top each with a couple of slices of Taleggio and a sprig of thyme. Bake about 10 minutes (more like 5 minutes if you are thinking of freezing and reheating).
  8. Serve with a few lettuce leaves sporting a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and a generous teaspoon of tartare sauce.

 

taleggio and mushroom tarts

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