Mushroom Tarts with Garlic Cream


Cal Stamenov, award-winning Executive Chef at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, created these decadently rich and earthy tarts that are sure to impress your guests. They can also be paired with a green salad for a light lunch. You could substitute savory pastry tartlette shells for the puff pastry cases, but the latter add a note of elegance to the dish.


30 large (or 1 cup) garlic cloves (peeled)
2 cups heavy cream
  Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1 8-ounce frozen puff pastry sheet (defrosted 20 minutes, at room temperature)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fresh medium-size shiitake mushrooms (stems removed)
  Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
6 fresh herb sprigs (like parsley or chervil, optional)


To make the garlic cream, place the garlic in a medium-size, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 3 inches of cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse with cold water, then repeat this process two more times.

When cool enough to handle, thinly slice the garlic and return it to the saucepan with the cream. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer gently until the cream is reduced by half or to a thick sauce-like consistency, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the pastry into a 10x9-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut into six 3x5-inch squares using a fluted pastry cutter. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and film the bottom with the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Slice the mushrooms into halves or thirds horizontally. Season with salt and pepper.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Discard the plastic wrap covering the puff pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork. Bake until puffed, golden brown, and baked through, about 30 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then, gently slice each square in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Arrange bottom sections on six plates; reserve tops.

Meanwhile, re-warm both the garlic cream and the mushrooms in separate pans over medium-high heat. Spoon 1/6 of the cream onto the bottom of each portion of pastry. Overlap mushrooms on top of the cream. Set each pastry cover at an angle on top of the mushrooms so the filling is visible. Garnish each plate with an herb sprig, if desired. Serve immediately.


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