the hinata diaries

Friday, December 30, 2005

Mushroom tart and chocolate pots

I'm still pretty new to the food blogging world and every day brings new discoveries of wonderful entries, tantalizing recipes and amazing restaurant reviews from around the world. I'm slowly familiarizing myself with the blogging royalty as well - food bloggers whose globetrotting exploits, access to the finest and rarest ingredients, gorgeous photo taking, unique writing style or just plain passion for food set lofty standards for the rest of us. A follow-the-links journey through such celebrity blogs led me to C'est moi qui l'ai fait! what I understand to be the most popular French food blog. Author Pascale has a beautiful blog with heaps of charming photos and recipes and, bonus for me, it's all in French! Well, bonus because I really do need to improve my French, and what better way than to practise it while reading about food glorious food, but headache in another regard (this will be obvious later).

Also figured that after about a week of non-stop Chinese food, it would be nice to surprise Philippe with a home-cooked French dinner, and Pascale's mushroom tart from Dec 20 seemed the perfect thing. Will take the liberty of translating and adulterating her recipe below (someone please tell me if this violates some sacred food blog code!)

Mushroom tart (Tarte feuilletée aux champignons, adapted from C'est moi qui l'ai fait!)

Serves 2 not-so-hungry people

  • Different mushrooms, according to your preference

Pascale used 400g champignons de Paris, 100g of chanterelles and 100g of shitake. The Plaza Singapura Carrefour not being as abundant, I ended up with a mixed pack of portobello, swiss browns and swiss whites. Not as exotic or varied but good enough for a casual dinner.

  • Butter for frying
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten and mixed with a tablespoon of milk
  • Herbs to taste

Preheat oven to 210 degrees. Brush puff pastry sheet with egg and milk mixture, keep cool. Fyi this yields a very thin tart, so if you really like your pastry you can probably use two sheets, one on top of the other. Lightly fry garlic and shallots in butter, taking care not to brown them as they'll continue cooking a bit longer. Toss in sliced mushrooms and cook till softened but not soggy. Note: Pascale details a cooking order to her mushrooms - first the champignons de Paris for 4 minutes, then add the chanterelles for 1 minute and finally the shitake for 2 more minutes. My mushrooms all had pretty similar textures so I figured there'd be no harm in tossing them in all together. Plus I hate being precise in cooking cos it takes away all the fun! But, yeah, depending on your choice of mushroom, stop to think if they need dramatically different cooking times and order them accordingly if so.

Top tart with mushrooms and bake for 15 minutes, till pastry is golden brown. Top with herbs (Pascale called for fresh herbs but I had some dried herbs de provence on hand, those worked perfectly). Serve immediately. And, as they say in French, voila!

This turned out really delicious and perfect for a light dinner. We were done eating in literally 5 minutes. On hindsight, should've probably prepared a little salad to go with it. The tart is also great for tea, light snacks, late supper or even breakfast (I still have 6 more pastry sheets left so it's likely I'll try this soon).

Since dinner was fairly simple, I decided a little dessert couldn't hurt, so also tried Pascale's recipe for Petits pots de crème au chocolat (little pots of chocolate cream) from her Dec 15 entry. Now this is where the French got really tricky! Her recipe cites liquid volumes as "cl" or centilitres, which in my hasty reading I mistook for ml, i.e. 1/10th of a cl. As a result, I ended up with a very dense chocolate mousse, as opposed to the pudding like consistency that Pascale produced. If you like eating chocolate on its own, then this would probably be great for you; it'd also be a great filling for a no-bake version of the chocolate tart I made for Christmas (see earlier post). Below is the Pascale version, with my comments:

Petits pots de crème au chocolat (from C'est moi qui l'ai fait!)

Makes 8 pots

  • 800ml milk (I used 80ml by accident)
  • 200ml crème frâiche (again, I used 20ml)
  • 400 dark chocolate (I used 100g - couldn't melt any more since I used too little milk/cream)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50g sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornflour

Heat milk and cream in large pot over medium flame. In the meantime, chop chocolate in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornflour.

Remove milk and cream mixture from fire once bubbles appear. Gradually stir mixture into chocolate, stir well until melted chocolate is well mixed. Gradually add egg yolk mixture, again stirring until well mixed.

Return chocolate mixture to pot and heat over low flame, stirring continuously until bubbles appear. Cook for 2 more minutes then pour into serving pots. Chill in refrigerator for several hours.

And here you have it!

Note: For the chocolate, this time I used a Carrefour dark cooking chocolate (62%) on Philippe's suggestion that the regular cooking chocolate in France isn't too far from Valrhona. Having tried it though, I do beg to differ. The Carrefour chocolate, while being rich and dark, didn't manage to deliver that final punch of chocolate ecstary that can only be expressed by closing your eyes and mutter an expletive, that Valrhona always produces. That said, the Carrefour version is pretty similar to the type of chocolate you get in the desserts of 5-star hotel buffets. So really not too bad, and infinitely more affordable at $3 for 200g (vs. $20 for Valrhona). At the end of the day, I guess it depends on how much you want to impress your guests :)

Still have leftover chocolate, cream etc. Maybe will try the Pascale version tomorrow. Taaa!


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