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Mushroom Tartlets

Mushroom Tartlets
Parisians love wild mushrooms and flock to the city's markets in spring for the earthy-tasting morel, or from midsummer through autumn for the cèpe, also known as the porcino. Other favorites include the delicately flavored girolle (chanterelle); the mild, bell-shaped mousseron (fairy ring); and the larger, more assertive pied bleu (wood blewit). Despite the lure of the wild, Parisian cooks have not forgotten the champignon de Paris, the familiar domestic white mushroom first cultivated during Napoléon's time in an area of quarries in the 15th arrondissement and now grown in the Loire Valley.

Serve with a light- to medium-bodied red Burgundy, such as Pinot Noir, or a rustic white wine from the Jura.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 oz. dried cèpe mushrooms
  • 1/4 oz. dried morel mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, heated
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, or as needed
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 to 4 oz. mixed fresh mushrooms, brushed
      clean, tough stems removed and coarsely
      chopped
  • 1/4 lb. fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean
      and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 or 2 slices dry-cured ham, such as Bayonne or
      prosciutto, diced
  • 1/4 cup port
  • Puff pastry or 14 oz. frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbs. milk

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the dried cèpe and morel mushrooms and the hot stock. Cover and let soak for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain the mushrooms through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing against the mushrooms to force out the stock; reserve the stock. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

In a large, heavy nonstick fry pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until somewhat softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Working in 2 batches, add the mixed and white mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and sauté until browned, 3 to 5 minutes per batch, adding a little more butter if they begin to stick. Return all the sautéed mushrooms to the pan, add the rehydrated mushrooms and sauté until combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, whisking to blend, until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the reserved soaking liquid. Cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream, whisking to blend. Stir in the mushrooms and season with the cayenne, nutmeg and salt. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture is bound together and almost no liquid remains, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Rinse the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the port, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid reduces almost to a glaze (about 1 Tbs.), 3 to 4 minutes. Pour over the mushroom mixture, cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly butter four 4-inch tartlet pans, preferably with removable bottoms.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out two-thirds of the puff pastry into a 12-inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 6-inch cardboard circle and a small, sharp knife, cut out 4 rounds. Ease each round into one of the prepared pans, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides and leaving an overhang of about 1/4 inch. Spoon the mushroom mixture into the pastry shells, dividing it evenly and heaping it slightly in the center.

Roll out the remaining pastry into a 10-inch square about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch cardboard circle and the knife, cut out 4 rounds. Carefully lay each round over one of the filled tartlets. Fold the overhanging dough from the bottom round up and over the top round, crimping the dough with your fingers to seal. Cut a few slits in the top crust. Using a pastry brush, brush the top crust of each tartlet with the egg-milk mixture.

Bake the tartlets until the tops are lightly golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for a few minutes. If using pans with removable bottoms, let the sides fall away, then slide the tartlets onto plates. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Paris, by Marlena Spieler (Oxmoor House, 2004).