Bloomy Mushroom Tartlets
I understand that this might be a controversial thing to say, but here goes: My favorite part of a large, sumptuous meal is probably the hors d'oeuvres. Teeny, tiny finger food has always been, and continues to be, a total and complete delight for me. Many people, including my husband, find their eyes lighting up for a big, honkin' steak or a gigantic slice of chocolate cake slathered in icing. What's the big whoop about fussy little bites that are gone in two seconds?
For me, the big whoop is about experiencing a singular mouthful, perfectly crafted in terms of both flavor and texture. The best kind of hors d'oeuvre, in my opinion, is one in which each component has been considered in such a thoughtful way that nothing needs to be added or subtracted. There's no "Oh, you really should have tried it with that sauce", or scurrying around on your plate to find a pleasing combination of flavors and textures - it's all been carefully laid out for you so that all you have to do is pop one in your mouth and enjoy. And, because they're so small, having just one more (read: let's be honest, probably like 10 more) wouldn't hurt, right?
These little tartlets are just what I look for in a successful hors d'oeuvre: they have a crunchy outer shell filled with an earthy, rich, umami-filled mushroom duxelle, and topped with creamy, gooey cheese to smooth everything out and bring all of the components together. Texture, flavor, and high degree of addictiveness - check, check, and check. The other thing that I love about this recipe is that it is super duper easy. There are only three components involved - tart shells (which you could make yourself if you felt ambitious, but is by no means necessary), mushroom duxelle, and a bloomy-rinded cheese of your choice. I used Cottonseed - a mixed milk bloomy from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese down in North Carolina - and it worked like a dream. I would highly recommend using it if you can get your hands on some, but any soft brie or camembert-like cheese will do the trick.
2 packages of frozen, pre-baked filo dough tart shells (the ones I used were about 1.5 inches in diameter - feel free to use bigger ones if you would like, you'll just have to adjust how much filling you use for each one. And again, if you're feeling ambitious and want to make these yourself, congratulations and godspeed.)
1 small wheel or fairly large wedge (about 1/2lb) of a bloomy rinded cheese of your choice (I used Cottonseed from Boxcarr Handmade Cheese)
1 shallot, finely minced (you can also sub in about a quarter of a small onion if you don't have a shallot)
1/2lb mushrooms, stems removed and finely minced (I used baby bella mushrooms, but a mixture of mushrooms would probably have worked even better)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 TB olive oil
-Make the mushroom duxelle: heat the olive oil gently in a large pan or skillet, then add the minced onion and garlic and sauté over a low heat until soft and translucent.
- Add the minced mushrooms to the pan and cook until juices are released, then add salt, pepper, and sage.
-Continue to cook mushroom mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
-Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
-Remove tart shells from packaging and place on baking tray.
-Add about 1 tsp of mushroom duxelle to each tart shell.
-Divide cheese evenly amongst tartlets, topping the duxelle.
-Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes, depending on your oven).