How to Make a Savoury Tart


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I call them tarts, others say flan, some say quiche. Whatever you call it a pastry shell filled with a few savoury ingredients and a mixture of cream and eggs makes a very good meal.

This is the  Basic Formula for an 8 inch (20cm) Tart which will amply feed four

short crust pastry made with 8 oz plain flour, 4 oz fat and about 2-3 tablespoons of cold water baked blind in a tart tin for 15 mins at 200°c (180°c fan) 
a selection of cooked vegetables, bacon, ham, chicken, smoked fish, cheese 
half a pint (or 300ml) cream and 2 or 3 eggs

Baked for 30-40 minutes at 180°c (160°c fan)

The Pastry

It's a matter of personal choice what fat you use for your pastry. I like half butter and half lard -butter for flavour, lard for shortness.

For my family I make 10 inch tarts and increase the pastry quantities to 10 oz flour and 5 oz fat.
Just remember that you need twice as much flour as fat and you'll be able to make as little or as much pastry as you want. Extra pastry can be frozen or made into jam tarts, little savoury tarts or pasties.

I make my pastry in the food processor blending the fat and flour for about 20 seconds until breadcrumby. Then I add water through the funnel while the machine is running until it forms a ball. Pastry should really be rested in the fridge for about 20 minutes before rolling to make it easier to manage. I'm too impatient for that and roll it straight away. If it cracks and tears I patch it up with spare bits of pastry. I roll it round my rolling pin and transfer it to my tart tin easing it gently down the sides so that it doesn't stretch too much. Then I rest it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

A word about tart tins.
Tart tins do not have to be fluted nor do they have to be round, but they must be metal or your pastry will not crisp.

Next bake the tart shell blind, that is, without filling so that the pastry sets preventing the finished tart becoming a soggy mess.To do this prick the bottom all over with a fork before lining it with a piece of foil and pouring baking beans (or dried beans or coins) in to stop the pastry from rising up in the oven. 
Bake for 15 minutes at 200°c (180° fan oven). While it is in the oven you can start preparing the filling.


Now the creative bit. All sorts of things can go in a tart. I usually choose two things plus some cheese. Simply scatter your ingredients in the tart shell and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Meat and fish
cooked bacon, ham, cold cooked sausages, cooked chicken or turkey, cooked or tinned salmon, tuna, smoked haddock, kippers, smoked salmon or mackerel.

courgette, mushroom, peppers, onions, leeks. Cook these first in butter or olive oil.
asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, sweetcorn, peas. Steam or boil first.

Any cheese is excellent in a tart (apart from cottage cheese which really isn't excellent in anything). Cheese is by no means mandatory but it is good.

Good combinations

bacon, sweetcorn and cheddar
onion and gruyère
tomato and goat's cheese
cauliflower and stilton (walnuts would be a good addition)
sweetcorn and ham
leek and bacon
mushroom and ham
chicken and sweetcorn
smoked haddock and parmesan
salmon and asparagus
sausage and leek
smoked salmon and cream cheese
courgette, pepper and feta

Above bacon and sweetcorn, below courgette and ham. Both had double Gloucester with chives sprinkled on top.

The custard

Half a pint or 300ml of cream plus 2 or 3 eggs will set an 8 inch tart to good consistency. For a 10 inch tart I use 3 eggs and 350ml of cream. You can add a couple more eggs if you like for a thicker and firmer filling. Precise quantities are not critical.

You can use single or double cream. I invariably use half double cream and half milk. You can also use a mix of crème fraîche or yogurt and milk. In a pinch you can use all milk although I'd recommend whole milk.

Beat the eggs and cream together with a fork in a jug, season with black pepper and a little salt bearing in mind how much salty bacon, ham or cheese you have used. Add some chopped herbs too if you like, I have used chives in the picture below.

Pour the cream and eggs carefully into the tarts. It may be best to set the tart of a baking sheet on the oven shelf first to do this so that you don't have to lift the liquid-filled tart into the oven. Don't over-fill your tart, you want it to be about half a centimetre below the top of the pastry.

Bake for 30- 40 minutes until firm and golden at 180°c (160°c fan).
Tarts are best eaten warm or at room temperature. They are hard to cut and serve when very hot.

What is your favourite tart or quiche filling?

Just Now I Am


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Watching my redcurrants ripen.
Enjoying Test Match Special - mostly*
Regretting finishing this so quickly. I hope she hurries up with the next one and I hope Robert Glenister reads it.

Eating egg and bacon salad for lunch.

Making lots of savoury tarts. So easy and perfect for hot weather meals.
This one is chicken and ham.

Making the most of my new ice cream maker.
This is coffee ice cream.

* If only Geoffrey Boycott wasn't on it. He makes me want to stab things.

The Colour Collaborative: July ~ Summer Colour


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

In the kitchen summer colour is all about the berry. Blood red cherries, scarlet redcurrants, crimson strawberries and raspberry raspberries. Crush them into fools with pillows of cream, jam them, jelly them, churn them into ice cream or eat them neat. I love them all but raspberries are my best.

In my garden are a lot of raspberry canes, random raspberries dotted all over. None of them are properly supported or properly pruned. They flop about and get tangled with gooseberries and roses, berries ripen unnoticed by me until they have become sodden with mildew.  Despite neglect my raspberries give me a bowlful of fruit a day throughout the summer and well into autumn.

A couple of days was all it took to harvest enough raspberries to make a couple of jars of raspberry curd.

As the curd cooks the intense raspberry colour softens to a gentler colour. The flavour of the fruit does not change however. It is the most delicious thing.

We ate it on toast, dolloped it on scones, stirred it into yogurt

Then we shovelled it into choux buns with whipped cream.

Raspberry Curd
Makes about two pots

Blend 8 oz (225g) raspberries with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Rub the purée through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

Melt 4 oz (110g) butter over a low heat. Add the raspberry purée and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Beat 4 eggs and strain them to get rid of the balancers (the stringy bits that hold the yolk within the white). Pour the eggs into the raspberry mixture and cook over a gentle heat stirring all the time until it thickens. This should only take a few minutes.

Pour the curd into pots. You should probably sterilise them but I don't bother. Curds only keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge and I knew ours wouldn't last that long.

For choux buns I can do no better than direct you to Delia. They are really easy and incredibly quick to make. Use a tablespoon to make about 6 buns. They go soft and flabby very quickly though so eat as soon as you can after making. Ten seconds is my record.

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they do that as individuals but what happens when they work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too.
We're starting small, with just five members for now, each offering their own monthly take on a colour related theme. And we're hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways. That's why we're each recommending that our readers visit the other Colour Collaborative's posts, we think you'll like what you find there.

July Posy


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

An English garden in high summer; pinks, snapdragons, stocks, delphiniums, sweet peas, cornflowers, lavender, sweet williams, lupins and roses, roses, roses.

Not in my garden. Neglect  has taken its toll. My rose bushes are struggling to make their presence felt, my honeysuckle has failed to flower yet again and every time I try and bring order I come out in an allergic itching rash. Picking the raspberries is about as much as I can cope with.

Sometimes though less is more. All I could find worth picking today were a spray of white roses, some feverfew and a few frothy stems of lady's mantle. And that was enough to make a very pleasing posy. Perfect for a Cornishware jug.

Small Delights: Big Delight


Monday, 8 July 2013

First the small

My cd bird scarers simultaneously protecting my currant bushes and painting them with rainbows.

Selfheal spreading all over my lawn.

Swelling quinces.

A beaded dish cover drying on the washing line.

Zéphirine Drouhin

Cherries from two miles away.


And now the big.

Andy Murray celebrates winning the final of Wimbledon 2013 with the trophy

(click on the image for the source)

And of course the gorgeous weather.

How to Eat Strawberries and Cream


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Real Strawberries and Cream

Take a deep cold bowl half full of cream (an old punch-bowl is excellent for this purpose). Whip the cream slightly, but do not make it too stiff. Then drop into it as many strawberries as it will hold, the smaller ones being put in whole, the larger cut up. Stir as you go, mashing slightly, and when the cream really won't cover another strawberry, leave it to stand for an hour. It will then be a cold level pale-pink cream. Crust it over with dredged white sugar and serve forth, in June, on a green lawn, under shady trees by the river.

From Food In England by Dorothy Hartley

My method is very similar. I whip the cream a bit more.

I slice the strawberries.

 I mix in the sugar.

I serve forth in June or July in my dining room, the windows open to the warm breeze.

And sometimes I add meringues. Well Why not?

It really is the finest way to eat strawberries and cream.

Almondy Muffins


Monday, 1 July 2013

As promised here is the recipe for almond muffins. It's from Katie Quinn Davies' book What Katie Ate. I've tinkered with it a little. The original recipe was for apple and strawberry almond muffins but I had no strawberries when I first made them so they became apple and almond muffins. The next time I made them I used rhubarb instead of apples. I also increased the quantities and swapped cinnamon and vanilla for almond extract.

 You can try all sorts of different fruit in these. Chopped plums, peaches, apricots (dried or fresh), raspberries or strawberries all sound good to me and chocolate chips instead of fruit are worth serious consideration.

Almondy Muffins slightly adapted from What Katie Ate
Makes 24

First toast 3 oz (85g) flaked almonds in a 200°c (fan 180°c ) oven for 10 mins.
Set aside for sprinkling on the muffins later.
While that's happening melt 8 oz (227g) butter. Set that aside to cool slightly.

Measure into a bowl
13 oz (370g) self-raising flour*
4½ oz (125g) ground almonds
9 oz (260g) sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 pinches salt
Mix.  I use a whisk to do this to ensure there are no lumps.

Next add your fruit.
I used two grated apples (skins as well). For the rhubarb muffins I used about 7 oz (200g) diced raw rhubarb. You're aiming for two good handfuls of fruit.

For wet fruit like grated apple I think it's a good idea to toss the fruit through the flour to make sure it doesn't all clump together.

Now for the wet ingredients. In another bowl beat together
12 fl oz (360 ml) milk
2 large eggs
the melted butter
1 tsp almond extract (optional)

Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture.
It will be very wet. Don't be scared.

Dollop into muffin cases filling them about two thirds full.
Scatter each muffin with the flaked almonds. Add a sprinkle of demerara sugar too if you like.

Bake for 25-30 mins at  200°c (fan 180°c)

*If you use plain flour instead of self-raising your muffins won't rise much. My muffins haven't risen much. Guess why.

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