Baked Eggs in Wild Mushroom Tartlets
It's quite a long time since I made a quiche or tart for entertaining. I feel that serving them individually is prettier and more practical, and people seem to really enjoy them. This recipe contains a base of a very concentrated mixture of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini, and this is a delight coupled with a softly baked egg and crisp pastry. Vegetarians might like to know that a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from www.bookhamcheese.co.uk
This recipe is from Delia's Winter Collection. Serves 6 as a starter
Begin by placing the porcini in a bowl. Pour 7 fl oz (200 ml) boiling water over them and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
Now make the pastry. This can easily be done in a processor or by rubbing the butter into the flour and stirring in the grated Parmesan and sufficient cold water (about 3 tablespoons) to mix to a soft but firm dough. Place the dough in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. This pastry will need a little more water than usual as the cheese absorbs some of it.
For the filling, heat 2 oz (50 g) of the butter in a heavy-based frying pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until they are soft and almost transparent (about 15 minutes).
While that's happening, finely chop the chestnut and open-cap mushrooms. When the porcini have had their 30 minutes' soaking, place a sieve over a bowl and strain them into it, pressing to release the moisture. You can reserve the soaking liquid and freeze it for stocks or sauces if you don't want to throw it out.
Then chop the porcini finely and transfer them with the other mushrooms to the pan containing the onions. Add the remaining 1 oz (25 g) of butter, season and cook till the juices of the mushrooms run, then add the lemon juice and parsley.
Raise the heat slightly and cook the mushrooms without a lid, stirring from time to time to prevent them sticking, until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is of a spreadable consistency. This will take about 25 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
Now roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm) and cut out 6 rounds, re-rolling the pastry if necessary. Grease the tins with a little melted butter and line each tin with the pastry, pushing it down from the top so the pastry will not shrink while cooking.
Trim any surplus pastry from around the top and prick the base with a fork. Now leave this in the fridge for a few minutes until the oven is up to temperature.
Now place the tins on a solid baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp.
Remove them from the oven and reduce the temperature to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C). Divide the filling between the tarts, making a well in the centre with the back of a spoon. Then break an egg into a saucer or a small ramekin, slip it into the tart and scatter a little Parmesan over the top.
Repeat this process with the other five tarts and return them to the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are just set and the yolks are still soft and creamy.
Serve straight away, because if they wait around the eggs will go on cooking.