Wed 01 Oct 2014

Food Without Fuss: Softly Awakes My Tart


This recipe, while hopefully of use and interest to all, was written with the Autumn 2014 selections of The Society’s Wine Without Fuss subscription scheme particularly in mind. Voted Best Wine Club by both The Independent and Which? magazine, Wine Without Fuss offers regular selections of delicious wines with the minimum of fuss. Why not join the growing band of members who let their Society take the strain, and are regularly glad they do?

Find out more about Wine Without Fuss in a short video on our website.

Janet Wynne Evans

Janet Wynne Evans

This piece was inspired by the seductive Sicilian ‘Dalila’, one of the Premium Whites in the Wine Without Fuss Autumn selection that we have lined up for the delectation of subscribing members.

‘What would Delilah eat?’ pondered my always-helpful colleague Sebastian Payne MW. I had no answer, apart from Samson and chips, or gigot de Tom Jones (and even I have no recipe for those), but a quick burst of her famous aria – which, in my rasping alto, would have had her victim making a voluntary beeline for the barber’s – made me think about, well.. tarts.

There are goodies galore in season now that might sit happily in a crisp pastry shell, filo purse, rich puff envelope or even, as below, a brioche base. Sweet-fleshed squashes and pumpkins are popping up, ready to be sliced and spiced. Farm-produced, rather than industrial goat’s milk cheeses should be relished now, before the breeding season kicks in and the best of the fresh milk has more important demands on it. The sea is full of good and sustainable pie options. Those handy game casserole mixes that have begun to make an appearance also make good, chunky terrines and a pastry croûte around them should firmly erase grim childhood memories of Gala Pie.

The beauty of Wine Without Fuss, of course, is that there is an option at every level for just about every variation on the quiche, tart and pie theme. For example, to discipline the rich custard at the heart of a quiche Lorraine and the smokiness of the bacon within, I’d look out a classy riesling such as Beyer (Classic French Whites) or racy grüner veltliner (Pepp, Premium Whites). For sweet roots, spinach and spices, a haunting Rhône-alike – d’Arenberg White Ochre, say (Buyers’ Everyday Whites) or mellow syrah blend Wakefield Promised Land (Buyers’ Everyday Reds) or Guigal’s Côtes-du-Rhône (Classic French Reds).

My favourite aspect of the season of mists is without doubt the new crop of wild mushrooms. From the mighty cep to the delicate girolle, they bring a glorious and seductive earthiness to plate and palate alike. At this time of year, they deserve centre-stage, supported by a chorus line of good things like good olive oil, butter or cream, lemon juice, lashings of parsley. For me, this is definitely a chardonnay thing. Wither Hills (Premium Whites) would certainly sing with the recipe below. It has been one of my staples for many years, since I first cut it out of (I think) a copy of Hello! Magazine, in which it was, without doubt, the most glittering celeb that week. I have shared a version of it with members in the past, but I’m often asked for it, so I’m delighted to give it another airing.

While not, strictly speaking, a tart, it’s simplicity itself to make and will draw gasps of pleasure from your guests. If not, my advice is to trip them up as they leave and tell them you won’t see them in the Fall!

Serves 4, generously. 6 at a push
• 30g dried wild mushrooms
• 250g fresh wild mushrooms (ceps, shiitake, girolles) brushed clean and trimmed if large
• 150g chestnut mushrooms, destalked, wiped with a damp cloth and thickly sliced
• Juice of half a lemon
• A small bunch of fresh tarragon or parsley, finely chopped
• Salt and pepper
• 4 individual brioche buns (not the fingers) or a medium-sized brioche loaf
• 1oz butter, melted
• 200ml crème fraîche or double cream

Soak the dried porcini in 200ml hot water for 20m. Drain, reserving the liquor (strain it into a jug through a fine sieve lined with kitchen paper to remove all grit) and squeeze dry. Fry in a little oil with the fresh mushrooms. Season well with pepper and the lemon juice. Add the strained porcini liquor and half of the tarragon and bubble gently until almost evaporated.

Add salt to taste and reserve. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.

Decapitate and hollow out the brioche(s). Brush insides and ‘lids’ with the melted butter, put on a baking tray and bake for five minutes (nearer ten for a loaf) or until firm and crisp. Add the cream to the mushroom mixture in a shallow pan and gently reheat until bubbling and thickened. Spoon into the warm brioches . Garnish with the remaining tarragon or parsley. Top with the lids at a jaunty angle and bring to the table. If you have used a whole brioche loaf, it’s easier to lift off the lid before carving into thick slices. Cut the lid into matching slices and assemble each slice on the plate.

Janet Wynne Evans

Categories : Wine Without Fuss

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