This is a recipe Didi and I made up (mostly Didi!) when given an enormous bag of freshly foraged Tompette de la Mort mushrooms. It’s wonderful as a starter, but could easily be a full meal when paired with a nice salad. Any mushrooms will do, but wild mushrooms do seem to really make this. If you can’t be bothered to make the béchamel, it’s fine without. We had some extra kicking around and thought it would be a lovely addition. It really does add something. This recipe became the starter of the season in Provence!

Tarte aux Trompette de la Mort (Wild Mushroom Tarte)

Ingredients

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600 grams mushrooms (whatever you can find, but Chanterelles—black or otherwise—are perfect for this)
olive oil/butter
splash white or rosé wine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup crème fraîche
salt, pepper
Tarragon, flat leaf parsley, chives chopped
¼ - ½ cup béchamel
pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) or quiche pastry

Béchamel

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk
Salt
Fresh ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper

Preparation

For the béchamel:
Make the roux: melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown—about 2 minutes. It should smell like shortbread cookies when it’s ready. Add the milk, bit at a time to avoid clumps. If you have clumps, use a whisk to work them through. Continue to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper to taste, lower the heat and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with parchment paper or saran wrap to prevent a skin from forming.

If you want to add cheese:
Take off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese (for this I suggest parmesan, grano padano, gruyère or a nice comté). If the cheese isn’t completely melted, put back on a low heat until fully melted.

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For the mushrooms:
Clean the mushrooms thoroughly from dirt, twigs, leaves etc. If mushrooms are very large, give them a rough chop. Put a good couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter (or both) in a sautée pan on medium to high heat. Once warmed, add the mushrooms (they should sizzle). Add salt and pepper and cook until most of the water has evaporated. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Then add the wine and cook until all liquid has evaporated. Turn down heat and add crème fraîche. Add the fresh herbs at the end and adjust the seasoning. You can use any herbs you like, but I’ve had rave reviews about the tarragon!

For the pastry:
The quickest is to use store bought puff pastry here, and it is delicious. If you do, place it in a tart pan, brush with olive oil, and dock the pastry with a fork. Bake according to package instructions, but likely for only 10-15 is all you need. You want to pre-bake it completely

However, this would also be good with a basic tarte/quiche pastry if you want to keep it homemade. You can find a basic recipe here.

Assembly and finish:
Once the pastry is cooked, add a layer of béchamel to the bottom. Place mushroom mixture on top. Put back in the oven until thoroughly warmed, about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Note: How hot should the milk be for the béchamel?
This is an ongoing argument. Many recipes insist the milk be warm. However, when studying at the Cordon Bleu they insisted it be cold. They said, “never add hot to hot, or cold to cold. It should be one hot, one cold’. As your roux will be hot, no need to warm the milk. I’ve done it a million times and never warmed the milk. It works just fine.