I've always got on terribly well with tarts; a tart is essentially a pastry concoction with pastry underneath and no pastry on top, pastry on top would make it a pie. I'm very fond of this sort of tart, you roll out a large disc of pastry place it in a container with enough of an edge to form the side and fold over a little, fill it up with a choice of filling, bring the edge up and over and bake in the oven. The only thing that limits you is your imagination. Each season brings its ingredients. This tart is packed with mushrooms, sprouts, potatoes, chestnuts and cheese, a simple and rather small amount of egg and cream mixture binds it all together. Admittedly it takes a little time to prepare all the filling ingredients; I roast/fry them in order to maximize flavour. Then it's simply a matter of assembly.
This tart is delicious hot or served at room temperature, ideal for a picnic, it delivers on flavour and equally importantly, texture. It serves 6 extremely hungry people, 8 with a more normal appetite.
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For this recipe you will need;
1 portion of shortcrust pastry made from;
250g of plain flour
65g of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
60g of vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into cubes
100ml of chilled water
1 pinch of salt
For the filling
500g of button mushrooms
400g of cheese, a mixture in this case of cheddar, Jarlsberg and Lancashire
250g of small potatoes
250g of sprouts
200g of cooked chestnuts
200g of double cream
1 teaspoon of Marigold Bouillon Powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil
Begin by making the pastry. Pulse the flour and fat in a food processor until the fat is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse again until the pastry dough comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and set aside to rest.
Cut the sprouts in half and cut the potatoes into similar sized pieces. Toss in a teaspoon of olive oil and half the salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven, 200C, for 10 to 15 minutes, turning the vegetables half way through to achieve even browning. Fry the mushrooms having sliced or quartered them, in half the remaining oil (half a tablespoon) and the remaining salt and pepper. Fry them for about 5 minutes, turning regularly to ensure even browning. Readers of my recipes will know I firmly believe in cooking mushrooms long and hard enough to bring out the most flavour. Finally fry off the chestnuts in the remaining oil, again cut up into small pieces. Fry for 3 or 4 minutes or until you begin to see the edges crisping and turning brown.
Prepare the cheese, I grated the cheddar, cubed and sliced the other two cheeses, so that in the finished tart you come across small nuggets of cheese.
Roll out the pastry and place in a container, I use my tart Tatin dish, 28cm across but any pie dish around 28cm to 30cm will suit. Then assemble the tart placing the ingredients in layers. I keep some of the cheddar to place on the top. Mix the eggs and cream, adding the Bouillon Powder and pour into the tart, it will trickle through the vegetables. Bring over the edge of pastry and finish by placing the last of the grated cheddar. Bake in a moderate 180C oven for 1hour to an hour and a quarter. Keep an eye on it and cover if the top looks as though it's getting too dark.
U.S. readers can substitute heavy cream for the double cream, it isn't as rich and I can't for the life of me understand why they don't sell double cream in the U.S. In the UK you can also substitute single or whipping cream if you want to reduce the fat content,.but really there is so little in the recipe I wouldn't bother.
Although the vegetables are cooked before placing in the pastry, the tart cooks for a long time in the oven because pastry loves long cooking, The result will be deliciously crisp and flaky.
Make twice the amount of pastry and freeze half of it, you'll then have a portion of pastry ready to make another tart when you've come up with an idea for the filling.
I used to use baking parchment in making this sort of tart but I think it served mostly as a helpful device for taking the hot tart out of the container.