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Angela's Italian and Sicilian Recipes
Cod and Mushroom Tart
Cod and Mushroom Tart
(Crostata di Merluzzo e Funghi)

For the Bechamel Sauce:
2 oz (50 grams) oz butter
2 oz (50 grams) plain flour
18 fl oz (500 ml) whole milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Salt and pepper 

For the Pate Brisee (thawed if frozen):
9 oz (250 grams) plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
6 oz (175 grams) butter, diced and softened
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Tart:
6 cod fillets, skinned
2 and 1/4 lb (1 kg) mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 and 1/2 oz (100 grams) Gruyere cheese (or Swiss cheese and Gouda), grated
1 large onion, halved
18 fl oz (500 ml) dry white wine
2 cloves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig (leaves only)
1 oz (25 grams) butter, plus extra for greasing
2 tablespoons double cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
Prepare the Bechamel Sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.

Whisk in the flour.

Pour in all the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil.

Season with salt, lower the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes. Bechamel sauce should not taste like flour.

Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Taste and add more salt if necessary and season with pepper and/or nutmeg.

If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk.

If too runny, return to the heat and add 2 slices of butter mixed with an equal quantity of plain flour.

Note: For a richer bechamel sauce, replace half the milk with the same amount of double cream; for a lighter béchamel sauce, add half milk and half water.

Prepare the Pate Brisee:
Sift the flour and add a pinch of salt into a mound on the work surface and add the softened butter.

Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Shape into a mound, make a well in the center and pour in the beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of water.

Knead lightly by hand (your hands should be cold) or using a metal palette knife.

Wrap the pastry in cling film, flatten gently with a rolling pin and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4.

Divide the pastry into several pieces.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface and use to line boat-shaped, oval or round tartlet tins.

Line with baking parchment or greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the tins from the oven, remove the beans and parchment or paper and leave to cool before filling.

Note: The quantity of pastry given here is also enough for two 9-inch (23-cm) round pies. Halve or double the quantity according to requirements.

Prepare the Tart:
Pour 18 fl oz (500 ml) of water and the wine into a saucepan.

Stud the onion with the cloves, add to the pan and bring to a boil.

Add the cod fish and cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes.

Remove the cod with a fish slice and boil the stock to reduce slightly, then set aside.

Sprinkle the cod with the marjoram, thyme, and parsley.
Season with pepper.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas Mark 3.

Grease a tart or quiche tin with butter.

Prepare the bechamel sauce using half milk and half fish stock, then stir in the mushrooms, cheese of your choice, cream, and eggs.
Season with salt and pepper.

Roll out the pate brisee on a lightly floured surface and line the prepared tin.

Prick the base all over with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4.

Remove the parchment and beans.

Chop the fish and sprinkle evenly over the pastry case.

Cover with the bechamel sauce mixture and return to the oven for another 40 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 6.
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