Delia Smith's Winter Collection
JANUARY 28 2012


I really love breakfast. So much so that I once wrote it a love letter on my Christmas post-its...

But I am hesitant to love a breakfast that takes all damn morning to make. Such exquisite torture! Today's breakfast took sooooo long that the only thing holding me together was the Chelada bloody mary with bacon and pecorino clenched in my left hand. Until I took one bite and forgave breakfast for all it's chopping and sauteing and waiting.

looks pretty close!

My first monument to breakfast was a red onion mountain. Then, whilst this was sauteing into translucent deliciousness, I constructed an even bigger mountain built of diced mushroom. I believe it was on the 4th button mushroom (nee chestnut mushroom) that I nearly took off the top of my ring finger. All is okay... I merely notched my nail before freezing in place and carefully retracting the endangered digit.

more than a few tears were shed for this mountain

magical mushroom tower

Approximately seventeen hours later, when all the mushrooms were finally chopped, they joined forces with the onions, along with parsley and lemon juice, to saute into umami heaven. Umami, the most savory of all the tastes, was officially recognized in 1985 at the first Umami International Symposium held in Hawaii. Ten years later, Delia developed a recipe, possibly without even realizing, that epitomized this best of all tastes. Gently sauteed onions and mushrooms in scads of butter emits a heavenly aroma that begs to be devoured.

before : after  

Not yet, hungry girl! There are still a few more steps before breakfast is finally ready. First, roll out the pastry dough chilling in the fridge and cut it into rounds. These are pressed into the creme brulee dishes you might recognize from New Year's Eve feast. I wasn't sure exactly how to push "it down from the top so the pastry will not shrink while cooking" so I just pressed it in the ramekins until it came about halfway up the edges. One of them (top right) shrank significantly, but I can't seem to care (thanks bloody mary!).

baked crusts

After baking 20 minutes, the final step was upon us! Top the golden pastry rounds with a big pile of mushroom and crack a egg into the middle. YUM! This bakes 12 - 15 minutes, or in my case closer to 20, until the egg is just set. Finally we eat!!

ready for the oven. looks good!

done! yessssssssss!

Holy god this is good. The eggs are perfectly cooked and the mushrooms almost bring us to tears. How can anything taste this fantastic? With 6 tartlets and only two people, we each have one now then scheme amongst ourselves to have another in an hour or so then another for a late afternoon snack. So what if we ate breakfast at 12:30... it kicked serious ass!!!



It's quite a long time since I made a quiche or tart for entertaining. I feel that serving them individually is prettier and more practical, and people seem to really enjoy them. This recipe contains a base of a very concentrated mixture of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini, and this is a delight coupled with a softly baked egg and crisp pastry

Serves 6

For the pastry:
3 oz soft butter
6 oz plain flour, sifted
1½ oz Parmesan, finely grated

For the filling:
6 large eggs
1 oz dried porcini
6 oz chestnut mushrooms
6 oz open-cap mushrooms
3 oz butter
2 small red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 oz Parmesan, finely grated
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

Begin by placing the porcini in a bowl. Pour boiling water over them and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Now make the pastry. This can easily be done in a processor or by rubbing the butter into the flour and stirring in the grated Parmesan and sufficient cold water (about 3 tablespoons) to mix to a soft but firm dough. Place the dough in a plastic bag and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. This pastry will need a little more water than usual as the cheese absorbs some of it.

For the filling, heat 2 oz of the butter in a heavy-based frying pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until they are soft and almost transparent (about 15 minutes). While that's happening, finely chop the chestnut and open-cap mushrooms. When the porcini have had their 30 minutes' soaking, place a sieve over a bowl and strain them into it, pressing to release the moisture. You can reserve the soaking liquid and freeze it for stocks or sauces if you don't want to throw it out.

Then chop the porcini finely and transfer them with the other mushrooms to the pan containing the onions. Add the remaining 1 oz of butter, season and cook till the juices of the mushrooms run, then add the lemon juice and parsley. Raise the heat slightly and cook the mushrooms without a lid, stirring from time to time to prevent them sticking, until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is of a spreadable consistency. This will take about 25 minutes.While the mushrooms are cooking, pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Now roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch and cut out 6 rounds, re-rolling the pastry if necessary.

Grease the tins with a little melted butter and line each tin with the pastry, pushing it down from the top so the pastry will not shrink while cooking. Trim any surplus pastry from around the top and prick the base with a fork. Now leave this in the fridge for a few minutes until the oven is up to temperature. Now place the tins on a solid baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp.

Remove them from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°F. Divide the filling between the tarts, making a well in the centre with the back of a spoon. Then break an egg into a saucer or a small ramekin, slip it into the tart and scatter a little Parmesan over the top. Repeat this process with the other five tarts and return them to the oven for 12-15 minutes until they are just set and the yolks are still soft and creamy. Serve straight away, because if they wait around the eggs will go on cooking.

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

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