Tag Archives: tart

Simple Strawberry Tart (Finally, Something Good About the English Summer)

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I have been living in England for many years now, and I have enthusiastically adapted to most aspects of life here. I now queue diligently, I drink tea like it’s going out of fashion, I have learnt to bake scones and I even pop into Marks & Spencer every now and then. But try as I might, I still cannot get used to the English Summer.

It seems that for every glorious day where you can eat outdoors,  wear a sundress and do other lovely, summery things,  you have to endure weeks of barely mild temperatures, wind and rain.

Warm, sunny days, when they do happen, seem to arrive out of nowhere and there is this sense of urgency about them because you know that if you don’t cancel whatever your plans were for that day,  and quickly adapt to the unexpected appearance of the sun,  your barbecue may just remain in the garage for another year and your sundress will languish in the wardrobe until the next foreign holiday.

There is one pretty marvellous thing about English Summers though : berries. The mild, wet weather makes for juicy, sweet , delicious strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and all their berry cousins.

My local fruit and veg shop stocks local berries during the season and they are a real joy. Recently, I bought some delicious, plump strawberries. Not the shiny, identically shaped, designer strawberries you find in supermarkets; no, these were the real thing, all different shapes and sizes and some of them oddly misshapen, just like the ones I used to pick in my grandmother’s garden.

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Inspired by this bounty, I suddenly fancied a strawberry tart. A simple one, with just a buttery, sweet pastry (or pâte sablée in French) and strawberries on top. No crème pâtissière needed with strawberries this good. The only thing I added were some roughly chopped pistachios because I think they look nice and add a bit of crunch, but really you can leave them out and your tart would still be delicious.

The proportions for the pastry come from Michel Roux’s Pastry , which I highly recommend (and unfortunately no one pays me to say this).

You will need :

For a 26 cm Ø tart tin:
250 g plain flour
200 g butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
100 g icing sugar, sifted
A pinch of salt
2 egg yolks

600 g strawberries
20 g chopped pistachios (optional)
2 tbsp strawberry jam, to glaze

Method :

For the pastry, put the flour in a mound in a wide, shallow dish or directly on your worktop. Make a well in the middle and add in it the butter, sugar and salt.
Rub the butter and sugar together between your fingertips until combined. Add the egg yolks and combine, still with your fingertips. Gradually start drawing in the flour from the sides until it has all been added. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times then pat it into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Flour the tart tin. Roll out the pastry carefully on a well-floured surface into a round 3 to 4 mm thick. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry into the tin. This pastry is very fragile and will probably tear when you try and lift it. The trick is to start lining the tin with as large a piece of pastry as you can manage, then fill the gaps with offcuts and gently press the edges down with your fingers to get a smooth pastry case.

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Refrigerate the lined tin while you preheat the oven to 180ºC / Fan 160ºC /Gas 4.

Cover the pastry with foil, add baking beans and bake blind for about 20 min (check your pastry frequently towards the end) then remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 min if necessary. You want a fully cooked pastry case with just a slight golden tinge.

Prepare the strawberries: wash them gently in cold water then leave to drain. Hull the strawberries, then either cut them in half and arrange them on the cooled pastry case in overlapping circles, or if you don’t have a lot of time, just use them whole (warning: this is much quicker but the strawberries will be rolling about when you slice the tart later).

Warm the jam in a small pan set over a low heat until it is liquid, then brush all over the strawberries. Scatter the chopped pistachios. Now expect some ooohs and aaahs when you bring this to the table.

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Filed under Desserts, Sweet Tarts

Let’s Start 2013 In Style: Chocolate Orange Tart

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If you want to impress the in-laws, or your best friend, next time they come for dinner, but you are not sure what to make, read on…

When I first produced this tart at the end of a meal, it was greeted with “ooohs” and “aaahs” and guests saying that really, I shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble, it looked fabulous, etc. In this situation, and regardless of how many hours you have been slaving away in the kitchen, social etiquette demands that your response should be along the lines of: ” oh, it was no trouble at all, it is actually very easy to make, really!”.  Which is pretty much what I said to my guests that day; but you know what? I wasn’t even lying!

This tart is really easy to make. The filling just needs mixing before baking, so no risk of curdling egg yolks while trying to make a custard-based filling. The pastry demands a little bit more care, as it is closer to a cookie dough than to traditional pastry, but as long as you keep it nice and chilled it should behave obediently enough.

I have borrowed the recipe for the pastry from Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen Chocolate Tart” recipe. I love this chocolate tart more than words can express, but as I am still in a bit of a post-holiday chocolate hangover, I decided to go for something a bit lighter and fresher than chocolate on chocolate. I have evolved the filling from a lemon tart recipe I copied out years ago; I obviously replaced the lemon with oranges, upped the juice content a bit and added zest for a stronger citrus flavour.

The chocolate decoration is just there to make it look a bit fancier (and it works!), I just wish I had a steadier hand when wielding a piping bag; the picture below is proof that I am no artist… 🙂  New resolution for 2013: practice my piping.

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You will need (for 6 to 8 people):

For the pastry:
325g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
Pinch salt
565g plain flour
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3 large eggs
65g cocoa powder

For the filling:
5 eggs
140g caster sugar
150 ml double cream
100 ml freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated.

Optional: 50g dark chocolate, for decorating.

Method:

Butter a 28 cm Ø loose-bottomed tart tin.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and salt, then fold in the flour, eggs, zest, and cocoa powder (you can do this by hand or with a food processor, but this makes quite a lot of pastry so your food processor needs to be a large one).

When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, gently bring it together until you have a ball  of dough. Do not knead it too much or it will become chewy. Flour the dough lightly, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge, roll out to the desired size, and carefully line your tart tin with it (any tears can be easily repaired by patching up with offcuts, lightly brushed with water then pressed down over the cracks). Put the lined tin in the freezer for 30 min.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/ fan 180ºC/ Gas 6. Bake the pastry for around 12-15 minutes or until it is firm and almost biscuit-like, then remove it and leave to cool while you make the filling.

Turn the oven down to 160ºC/fan 140ºC/Gas 3.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients, except for the zest, together. Sieve the mixture into a large jug, then stir in the zest.

Pull the middle shelf half-out of the oven, and place the tart tin on it. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry case, taking care that it stops a few millimetres below the edge of the pastry. Gently push the shelf back in. Bake for 30-35 min until just set.

Leave to cool to room temperature, then carefully remove the tart from the tin.

For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of simmering water (take care that the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Immediately transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag fitted with a nozzle with a small, plain opening, and pipe criss-crossing patterns onto the tart. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Filed under Bakes, Christmas, Desserts, Sweet Tarts

The Tart, the Party, and the Christmas Tree Dress (Caramelised Onions, Peppers and Chorizo Tart)

 Last weekend, I had a work Christmas party to go to. I know a lot of people would rather gouge their own eyes out rather than attend the work party, but this is not the case here. I am lucky enough to be working with great people who are really, really fun to be around. We all decided a few weeks ago that we would go out and make the most of the happy hour, then head back to our manager’s place for food and a lot more drinks. We also decided that we would be wearing Christmas-themed costumes… it sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

Well, in any case it explains how I ended up going out in Newcastle on a Saturday night wearing a Christmas tree dress. Yes, that’s right, a Christmas tree dress. In my defence, it actually looks a lot better than it sounds. And after a few drinks I thought it was hilarious that I seemed to be leaving a trail of tinsel behind me everywhere I went… 

But anyway, the point of this post is the food, not my sparkly sartorial adventures. I needed to come up with the perfect recipe to bring along to the party. It had to be freezer-friendly, as I knew I wouldn’t have time to make it on the day; I wanted it to appeal to a wide audience, and be easy to transport. A savoury tart seemed like a good option, and after much deliberation I finally settled on a caramelised onions and peppers filling, and added chorizo for some extra flavour.

This tart went down a treat and it was eaten in no time at all. In fact I wish I had made two! Unfortunately, when the tart was served I was a bit tipsy busy, and didn’t get to take a picture. Sorry…

Don’t be put off by the anchovies in the ingredients list if you don’t like them; they are only there to balance out the sweetness of the peppers and onions, and you won’t be able to taste them (Mr Greedy Frog hates anchovies, so I didn’t tell him they featured in this recipe, and he happily ate up the produce of my test runs without noticing a thing…)

You will need (for 6-8 people):

For the pastry:

300 g plain flour
150 g butter
Pinch salt
cold water

For the filling:

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 anchovy fillets in olive oil
4 red onions
8 bell peppers (a mix of red and yellow looks best but green is fine too)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150g chorizo
salt, pepper

Method:

Make the pastry. In a large bowl, add a pinch of salt and the butter to the flour. Work the flour into the butter between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind, knead briefly then form into a ball (you can of course use a food processor instead if you prefer). Wrap in cling film then chill for 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6.

Roll out the pastry to line a 28 cm, loose-bottom, fluted tart tin (re-form any leftover pastry into a ball and freeze for another time). Chill again for 10 min, then line with foil, add baking beans, and bake blind for 15 min. Remove the foil and beans, and return to the oven for 5 min. Reserve.

Make the filling. De-seed and slice the peppers, slice the onions, peel and crush the garlic.
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In a large frying pan with a lid, heat up the olive oil. Finely chop the anchovies, and fry for a minute or two until they start breaking down. Add the tomato puree, cool for 1 minute more.
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Add the onions, peppers and garlic, toss to coat, and fry gently for 2 to 3 min. After this time, add the balsamic vinegar and oregano, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook gently, stirring every once in a while, until soft (about 10-15 min depending on the size of your pan). If you end up with cooking juices, cook uncovered for a further 2 min to dry out. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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Meanwhile, cut the chorizo into small pieces (about the size of chickpeas), and dry-fry in a non-stick frying pan until cooked (about 10 min). Set aside.

Assemble the tart: If serving straight away, scatter the pieces of chorizo evenly over the pastry case, and top with the onion and pepper filling. Bake for 15 min until piping hot. If you want to freeze it for later, cool all the elements separately then assemble when cold. Wrap in foil and cling film and freeze for up to a month. Bake from frozen at  200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6 for 30 min or until piping hot in the middle.

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Filed under Bakes, Buffet, Christmas, Mains, Savoury Tarts, Starters

Salmon and Asparagus Tart

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I have a thing for savoury tarts; to me they represent comfort food at its best, and conjure up a lot of happy childhood memories. I remember being at my grandmother’s and helping her prepare Quiche Lorraine. I would watch it take on a golden colour through the oven glass, the minutes ticking by very slowly, the smell gradually amplifying until it filled the kitchen; the excitement was almost untenable.

And if my mother announced that she was making a Salmon Tourte, or, delight of delights, Onion Tart for dinner, I would litterally be the happiest little girl on the planet. The mere thought of biting into the buttery, crumbly pastry, and tasting the flavourful fillings had me skipping about excitedly. When, after what felt like hours, the tart finally came out of the oven, and I received my slice, I would invariably burn my mouth in my juvenile haste. And it was worth it every time.

I am now older, and a little bit wiser, and if I still burn my mouth from time to time, I have stopped skipping about. Well, most of the time anyway.

But there is another reason why I love savoury tarts: there is almost no limit to the amount of recipes you can come up with. This one here isn’t a recipe from my childhood: green asparagus isn’t very common in France, and its white cousin doen’t really lend itself to this sort of dish. I came up with it quite simply because I like the combination of asparagus and smoked salmon, and they were both on special offer. 

This tart is unbelievably easy to make, and it doubles up as a stunning centerpiece. Have it on its own as a starter, or serve alongside a salad or buttered greens for a main meal. Go easy on the salt in the egg and cream mix, as the smoked salmon is already rather salty. If you are watching your fat intake, half-fat cream works fine here.

You will need:

For the pastry:
300 g plain flour
150 g butter
Pinch salt

For the filling:
1 bunch green asparagus
3 slices smoked salmon
3 eggs
200 ml double cream
200 ml crème fraîche
Salt
Pepper
Groung nutmeg

Method:

Make the pastry. In a large bowl, add a pinch of salt and the butter to the flour. Work the flour into the butter between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind, knead briefly then form into a ball (you can of course use a food processor instead if you prefer). Wrap in cling film then chill for 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6.
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Roll out the pastry to line a 28 cm, loose-bottom, fluted tart tin (re-form any leftover pastry into a ball and freeze for another time). Chill again for 10 min, then line with foil, add baking beans, and bake blind for 15 min. Remove the foil and beans, and return to the oven for 5 min. Reserve.

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, and cook in salted boiling water for about 5 min until tender enough to eat, but not too soft. Drain and reserve.

Cut the smoked salmon into small pieces and distribute evenly over the pastry case.

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Top with the asparagus, arranging them on the tart like the spokes of a wheel.

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In a large jug, lightly beat the eggs, add the double cream and crème fraîche and mix well. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour the egg and cream mix delicately over the pastry case. Bake for about 20 min, or until golden all over and just set.

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Filed under Bakes, Buffet, Mains, Savoury Tarts, Starters

Raspberry and coconut meringue tart

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This tart takes a little bit of time to make, but it is well worth the effort.

It really looks the part too, so it would be ideal if you are trying to impress a special someone.

Fresh or frozen raspberries work equally well here, and you can make the pastry and filling the day before, then just add the meringue topping on the day.

You will need:

For the pastry:
350g plain flour
50g shredded coconut
120g icing sugar (sifted)
140g diced unsalted butter
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
700g raspberries
160g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp corn flour
50g melted butter
4 egg yolks (keep 3 of the whites to make the meringue)

For the meringue:
3 egg whites
160g caster sugar
40g shredded coconut

Method:

Make the pastry. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, coconut, and icing sugar. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until you get a crumb-like appearance. Alternatively, blitz together in a food processor.

Add the beaten eggs, incorporate them gently and gather together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 min.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C/ gas 6.

Roll the pastry out to fit a tart tin roughly 26 cm across and 3.5 cm high. You can roll the leftover pastry into a ball, wrap well in cling film and freeze for another time.image

Fill the lined tin with a sheet of foil topped with baking beans. image

Bake blind for 12 min, then remove the foil and beans and bake for 5 min more. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large pan, mix together the raspberries, lemon juice and zest and 70g of the sugar. Put on a gentle heat and stir regularly until the raspberries are cooked (they will look very mushy and juicy).

Transfer to a blender and blend thoroughly. Place a fine sieve over a clean, large pan, and pour the mixture into the sieve. Using a large spoon, push the raspberry pulp through the mesh. It will take a few minutes, but you will eventually end up with a smooth purée in the pan, and a sieve-full of seeds.image

Mix the corn flour and the rest of the sugar with a few spoonfuls of raspberry purée to dissolve. Add this mixture back to the pan and heat up on a medium heat until it starts bubbling.

Off the heat, add the melted butter mixed with the yolks, mix well. When cool, cover and chill.

Turn the oven down to 190 C/ fan 170 C/ gas 5.

Fill the pastry case with the raspberry curd, and bake for about 30 min. Make sure the top doesn’t start to brown, if it does, cover the tart with foil.

Take out of the oven and leave to cool. image

When the tart is roughly at room temperature, prepare the meringue. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar one spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Finish by adding the coconut.

Pile onto the tart, spreading all the way to the edge, making sure there are plenty of little peaks on the meringue.image

Return to the oven for about 15 min or until golden on top.

Cool, then keep chilled until ready to serve.image

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