Walnuts are a key component in many dishes of Southwest France. In the woodsy Perigord region, they can be found in sauces, on salad, in cakes and candies, in soups, and made in to oils. Perigord even has a organization of older woman who specialize in shelling walnuts. Called les enoiseuses (nutcrackers), they travel from village to village during harvest to crack open nuts with their special wooden mallets and round wooden boards.
Tart aux Cepes et aux Noix – Mushroom & Walnut Tart
- Rolling Pin
- Food processor
- Medium bowl
- 2 large cupcake tins
- 1 lb Small mushrooms
- 1 oz Dried porcini mushrooms (optional)
- 2 oz Shelled walnuts
- 1⅓ cup Bread cubes, toasted or fried (croutons OK)
- ½ cup Milk
- 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
- 2 oz Jambon de Bayonne or prosciutto, finely diced
- 1 medium Shallot, chopped (¼ sweet onion OK)
- ½ cup Heavy cream, chilled
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2½ tbsp Butter, melted
- 1 clove Garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp Walnut oil
- 12 oz Pastry flour (2⅓ cups)
- ½ tsp Table salt
- 1 pinch Sugar
- 7 oz European butter, cut into small dice
- ⅓ cup Cold water
- 1 tbsp Cider vinegar
- Make 1 day in advance. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse once or twice to sift. Scatter half the butter over the flour and pulse 5 times. Repeat with remaining butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Add cold water and vinegar. Pulse once or twice but don't process into a ball.Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press into a smooth ball, adding a few drops of cold water if needed to form a smooth dough. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or freeze until using.
- Trim stems and wipe the caps with a damp paper towel. Blanch the mushrooms and dried porcini mushrooms for 5 minutes in salted water. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Press in kitchen towels until completely dry. Cut caps into quarters and set aside.
- Grate walnuts in a nut grinder or food processor. Soak bread cubes in milk for 10 minutes. Squeeze dry and place in a food processor along with the egg, ham, walnuts, and shallot. Process to a smooth paste and transfer to a bowl to cover and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
- With a fork, gradually work small amounts of the cold heavy cream into the walnut mixture. Each small dollop of cream should be blended before proceeding with the next. When all the cream has been incorporated, season with salt and pepper.
- Roll out dough between pieces of wax paper into a large rectangle, ⅛-inch thick. Fold the dough into thirds like an envelope. Rotate the dough ¼ turn and repeat the rolling and folding. Chill the dough for 20 minutes, then cut into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll each portion between wax paper to create paper-thin round disks to fit into a cupcake space. Repeat until all 12 spots are filled on 2 tins.
Fill and Bake Tarts
- Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Warm butter with crushed garlic. Divide walnut mixture equally between each mold. Fan out sliced mushroom caps over filling and brush tops with a little melted garlic butter and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake tarts on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Serve hot with a little walnut oil sprinkled on top.