Wednesday 23 April 2014

Nettle and blue cheese, Mustard Truffle tarts with Red Salad and a Lemony, Honey Mustard Dressing.

I love to try new ingredients and often get offered ones to sample. I don't always accept the invitation.  Sometimes it may be to do with the ingredients, or maybe how they are sourced. I am quite selective about what I eat, and what I write about on my blog. 

But I have a bit of a thing for mustard...You may have noticed. So when Maille, who have been producing the most spectacularly indulgent French mustards since 1747, asked me if I would like to take part in a competition. I was very flattered. It was especially hard for me to refuse. Even more so, when they let me choose two ingredients from their on-line boutique

I had never tried truffle, and love fungi, so chose Maille, Moutarde au Vin Blanc Celerie Rave et Brisures de Truffles as one of my choices. Mustard with white wine, celeriac and black truffle. 

Never having tasted, never mind cooked, with truffle flavour before, pondering what ingredients to use to create a recipe, my favourite Nigel Slater's ethos came to mind : "what grows together, goes together."

I know that truffles are rooted out of the black earth in woodland France. They are earthy and woody. A walk in the garden at the edge of the woods produced fresh seasonal nettle shoots, perfect at this time of year. A little fridge foraging revealed  truffle's poor relative, simple brown mushrooms; and tangy deep flavoured English blue veined Stilton cheese. 

A perfect combination.

This is how I made my Nettle, Blue Cheese and Mustard, Truffle Oil Tarts with Red Salad and a Lemony Honey Mustard Dressing. 

Ingredients for four, four inch pastry tarts:

For the shortcrust pastry:

  • 4oz of flour of choice (wheat, spelt, gluten free or any alternative will do)
  • 2oz of chilled butter or dairy alternative
  • A large pinch of freshly ground sea salt
  • One beaten free range egg, plus a little milk or water to bind. 
  • Four, four inch/ten centimetre baking pans plus a baking tray
  • A little oil or alternative to grease the pans
Method for make the pastry: 
  1. Sieve the flour into a baking bowl.
  2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces.
  3. Add to the flour. Rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. 
  4. Add the salt and mix.
  5. Add the egg/milk mixture a little at a time combining until a soft dough is formed.
  6. Form the dough into a ball and cover with greased paper, then chill for about 20 minutes.
Ingredients for  four tarts:
  • Shortcrust pastry
  • Maille  Moutarde au Vin Blanc Celeri Rave et Brisures de Truffles
  • Two free range eggs
  • A tbs of skimmed milk (or cream if you want to be a little more indulgent) 
  • A couple of handfuls of nettle tops. ( I have small hands, you may only need one handful) Collect wearing gloves and remember to take only the fresh green tips. You could always substitute with baby spinach or rocket (arugula) leaves.
  • Any blue veined cheese, as locally sourced as possible.
  • A handful of mushrooms of choice. I like Portobello or brown mushrooms. 
  • Fresh sea salt and ground black pepper.
  • One clove of garlic
  • A little butter or oil of choice for frying.

Method for making the tarts:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Prepare the baking tins.
  2. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Sprinkle a little flour onto a surface and divide the pastry into four.
  3. Roll each quarter into a ball and then roll out each one with a rolling pin until just a couple of centimetres larger than the tins. 
  4. Line the tins and place onto the baking tray. Bake blind for five minutes or so until the pastry has set, but is still soft and light brown in colour. Remove from the oven and set to one side to cool a little.
  5. Place a little butter into a small frying pan. Heat up and then add the crushed garlic clove and gently cook ensuring that it doesn't burn. Meanwhile slice the mushrooms finely and add to the pan. 
  6. Add a little sea salt and cook the mushrooms until tender. Drain and reserve to one side.
  7. Once cooled a little, place the mushrooms into the pastry cases.
  8. Cut the cheese into smallish cubes about four or five per tart. 
  9. Blanch the nettle tops with boiling water and then divide between the tarts. 
  10. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add a couple of spoonfuls of the truffle mustard, season, remembering how salty the cheese may be. You may only need to add pepper. Mix well.
  11. Divide the mixture between the four tarts. Use another egg if there isn't enough mixture.
  12. Bake for about twenty minutes or so until the egg has set and the tart is golden brown.
Delicious served warm or cold with a salad.

For this deeply flavoured rich tart, I wanted a light refreshing slightly acidic salad of sliced radishes, sweet red plums and cherry tomatoes.

I made a dressing with the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of good honey and one or two of the truffle mustard. You may like to add a little rapeseed or olive oil too. Stir well, taste and then adjust the seasoning. 

These little seasonal tarts are very more-ish with an earthy tangy note, accompanied by the refreshing fruity salad. 


  1. Mmmmmm....looks delicious!!!

  2. They were actually very more-ish and didn't last long at all...