Saturday, April 01, 2006

Savory Tartlets

Want some fun? I suggest you make a few savory tartlets! This is such a creative activity! It feels like being 4 again and playing with playdough or beads or whatever. Seriously.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a potluck party last Friday and the host asked me to bring a hors d'oeuvre. She said other people in charge of appetizers were bringing salads, a vegetable tray, nachos and salsa... and that I should try to bring something else. I didn't really have time to go grocery shopping for that event but my fridge was well garnished already (which is pretty unusual). Unfortunately the content was very diverse: one tomato here, a piece of cheese there... Nothing in quantities large enough to make a big dish. It was the perfect occasion to bake bite-size quiches!

First I prepared a pâte brisée pie crust following this recipe. Not knowing how many tartlets I would have time to bake, I doubled all the ingredients (but ended up freezing half of the dough). Half a pound flour was enough to make 5x15 (yes! That's 75!) tartlets.

Then I emptied my fridge and started composing different fillings, following my inspiration.

Each batch was baked in a silicon mold at 350F (180C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

I. The first batch of 15 tartlets was made of:
  • Roma tomatoes (I think I used one or two), cut in small cubes (I removed the seeds and juice)
  • Black olives (maybe a dozen), pitted and sliced
  • Cheese. I used Saint Marcelin in some of the tartlets (it's a creamy, creamy cheese from the Alps, so creamy it's usually sold in a little cup) and Fourme d'Ambert in others (a soft blue cheese from central France).
I placed a little piece of cheese at the bottom of each quiche crust then filled them up with tomato and olive dice.

II.On the left of the above picture is a series of whole grain mustard mini-quiches. I used:
I beat all the ingredients together before pouring the mix into the pie crusts.
Since the custard is a little bit liquid, using a silicon mold can be tricky... I placed mine on a cookie sheet to give it the necessary firmness.

III.The batch on the right of the above picture was made as follows:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche (or sour cream)
  • salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • walnut chunks
  • Gruyère cheese.
I made a custard by beating together the egg, cream and seasoning. I poured 1 tablespoon of this mix in each pie shell. I added tomato cubes and walnut chunks on top (they sank). Then I sprinkled with grated cheese.

IV. For the 4th batch I made a classic "tarte à l'oignon" (one before last on the above picture) with a personal touch (some wine!). I used:
  • 1 chopped yellow onion (coarsely chopped, that is)
  • some butter
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons white wine (Chardonnay or Pino Grigio)
  • custard made of 1 egg, 1 tablespoon crème fraîche, salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • Gruyère cheese
I cooked the onion in butter (about 1 teaspoon) until transparent (a few minutes on medium-high heat). Then I poured the wine and simmered for about 10 minutes.
I filled up the pie shells with 1 tablespoon custard, poured the onions on top and sprinkled with grated cheese.

V. Last but not least (although it's the easiest one!), I simply placed a piece of cheese (Saint-Marcelin or Fourme d'Ambert) in the pie crusts and toped them with half walnuts. It's shown in the middle in the above picture.

I placed all the tartlets on a cookie sheet and brought this tray to the party. It was so funny watching people trying to figure out what was in each of them!


Susan in Italy said...

Mmmmm...God I'm hungry! I'll bet you were the hit of the party.

Susan Cheng said...

Gorgeous little tarts! unfortunately I am too lazy and would end up with the bulk package from Costco....

Estelle said...

Dear Lord! She used the C word! :-)

Anonymous said...

Question for the did you cut out each crust so perfectly? Did you use a cookie cutter and then place it in the silicone mold?

Estelle said...

Hi Tammy,
It's a good point! I forgot to mention that... Yes, I used a round crinkle-edge cookie cutter (maybe 2" or 2.5" in diameter). The dough was rolled out pretty thin (maybe 2mm?) on a mat (it's easier to remove the dough rounds without damaging them if they're on a flexible surface).
Lamia told me about a tool to shape the shells without having to roll out the dough but I'm not sure exactly how it works.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour Estelle,

You really should write a cookbook... I'm sure it will be a bestseller!!! Thanks for sharing your recipes, they are wonderful. The accompanying photos look so delicious! :-P

J'ai passe une annee en France il y a dix ans. Je regrette de ne pas avoir mange plus... La cuisine francaise est tout simplement une merveille!

A fan of your blog

Estelle said...

Wow! Thank you very much! I'm very touched. :-)

Cindy said...

Those look so good, perfect for appetisers.

Tami said...

I am going to make these tartlets as soon as I get a chance. I really enjoy your blog and I have provided a link to your blog on my website cheftami. If you have a chance check out my blog at

MrChips said...

These were yummy little tartlets and I was inspired to make my own. I shall try to update the pics on my blog.

Chris said...

Estelle---it looks like you used
DeMarle (French bake ware) items to make your tartlets because they're so perfect! Is that so?

Estelle said...

Hi Chris,

I used a very basic metal cookie cutter (round crinkle-edge cookie cutter, 2.5" in diameter) and a LeCreuset silicon mold (but any brand would do!). There are 15 little tartlet molds on it (3 rows or 5), 2" in diameter each.