Wild Leek and Mushroom Torte

Tourte de Poireaux de Vignes et Champignons

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Cooking of South West France

By Paula Wolfert

Published 1987

  • About

This rustic pie, perfect for a light supper or a light luncheon entree, comes from the French town of Poudenas, a lovely village set amid the rolling hills of Lot-et-Garonne. Poudenas, with its pink houses, eleventh-century château up on a hill, and wonderful food tradition, is a town you can fall in love with.

In the Southwest of France, wild leeks are called baragnes; they are foraged in vineyards in the month of May. Since the garlicky flavor of these is best preserved with gentle cooking, they are most frequently found in omelets, soups, and savory pies, like this one. French wild leeks are almost the same as our American ramps. If you don’t live along the North American “ramp trail, ” which runs all the way from Quebec and Minnesota to the Carolinas, you can mail order them in the spring.

Ingredients

  • Pâte Brisée
  • 1 pound ramp bulbs ( cups), or 7 to 8 young green garlic shoots, about pounds
  • Coarse sea salt
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cup crème fraîche or 1 cup heavy cream reduced to cup
  • ½ pound small, very firm white mushrooms, wiped clean but not washed
  • Finely ground white pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream to make a glaze

Method

  1. Up to two days in advance, make the Pâte Brisée (pastry dough).
  2. Wash the ramps and trim away hairy roots. Halve each ramp lengthwise, then cut crosswise on the diagonal into¼-inch slices. (Quarter each leek lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into¼-inch pieces.) There will be about 2 packed cups. Dump the ramps or leeks into a large sieve, rinse thoroughly, and drain. Soften the ramps or leeks by sprinkling them with 1½ teaspoons of the salt, tossing, and rubbing well through your fingertips. Leave in the colander for at least 1 hour. Rinse the ramps or leeks under running water and working in small batches, squeeze to extract as much moisture as possible.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the ramps or leeks and cook, partially covered, until they are tender and the butter has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one piece of the dough between sheets of floured waxed paper to make a large, thin round, less than ⅛ inch thick. Flip the dough over an 11-inch buttered and floured tart pan. Fit the pastry into the pan without stretching. (If the pastry is too soft at this point, simply let it chill in the refrigerator 10 minutes before lifting off paper.) Repair cracks or tears with overhanging pieces of pastry; trim off the excess with a thin bladed knife or by rolling the rolling pin over the edge. Prick the bottom of the pastry in 6 or 7 places with the tines of a fork.
  5. Spread the leeks evenly over the dough. Slice the mushrooms paper-thin and scatter them over the leeks. Spread the crème fraîche evenly on top. Season with salt and white pepper. To make sure the filling is “light and delicate, ” do not press down.
  6. Brush the egg glaze over rim of the pastry at the edge of pan. Roll out the second piece of dough as thin as possible and place it over the top. With the tines of a fork, crimp all around to seal the edges. Trim away any excess dough. Brush the top with the remaining glaze. With the point of a knife, make shallow lines crisscrossing the pastry.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake the torte on the lowest oven shelf for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F, shift to a higher shelf, and finish baking for 20 minutes longer, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove the torte from the oven, let stand for about 20 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm.
Inspired by a recipe from Marie-Claude Gracia.