ASPARAGUS AND MUSHROOM TARTS

Serves 4.

Note: Crème fraîche is widely available in most groceries in the dairy section. If you can't find it, the recipe below works well.

• 1/2 lb. slim asparagus

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 31/2 to 4 oz. sliced, stemmed shiitake mushrooms (or 5 to 6 oz. whole shiitakes, tough stems removed and discarded, and mushrooms cut into 1/4-inch julienne strips)

• 3/4 tsp. dried tarragon leaves

• 3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 c. crème fraîche (see Note)

• 1/4 c. grated Gruyère cheese

• 1 sheet puff pastry (from a 17.3-oz. pkg.), defrosted

• Fresh tarragon sprigs for garnish, optional

Directions

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Then cut spears on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces, and place them in a medium mixing bowl.

Melt butter in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add mushrooms and sauté, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from skillet and add to the bowl with asparagus. Add tarragon, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper, and stir well to mix. Cool mixture 5 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche and Gruyère. (Filling can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before using.)

Place puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten the seams. Cut sheet into four equal squares. With a sharp knife, lightly score a 3/4-inch border around the inside edge of each pastry square, taking care not to cut all the way through the dough. (You simply want to trace a frame within each square, which will rise around the filling and form the sides of each tart.) Transfer squares to a baking sheet. (Squares can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Divide asparagus mixture evenly and spread within borders of each square. Bake tarts until sides have puffed and are golden brown and filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Watch carefully.

Garnish each tart with a fresh tarragon sprig if desired.

To prepare crème fraîche: Whisk together 1 cup heavy cream and 1/3 cup sour cream in a medium nonreactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Crème fraîche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in refrigerator.) Makes about 11/3 cups.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 480 Fat 36 g Sodium 380 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g Saturated fat 16 g Calcium 106 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 110 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 7 fat.