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Category Archives: Pies, Tarts and Quiches

Cherry Tomato Tart

This is more a throw together than a recipe. The sort of thing you can whip up when you need a super quick lunch or supper dish!

Store-bought puff pastry tart base, some caramelized onion for the base, then topped with goats’ cheese, cherry tomatoes and a scattering of fresh herbs. I made mine in a rectangular flan tin, but a round one would do as well. You might have to adjust the quantities.

Ingredients

1 quantity store-bough puff pastry ( I used 2 sheets from a 3 sheet pack of Pampas Butter Puff Pastry)

1 red onion, chopped

1 teaspoon butter

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Goats’ cheese – or similar crumbly soft cheese. You will crumble this into the tart, so quantities are flexible, about 100gm should be enough

15-20 cherry tomatoes, or more if you want to pack them in, on the vine

Fresh thyme leaves for scattering

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Butter a rectangular flan tin (or a round one), and fit with the puff pastry sheets which you have cut to shape.

Fry the red onion in the butter in a small frying pan over a low to medium heat, until the onion begins to soften. Add the brown sugar to caramelize the onion and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Lay the caramelized onion onto the pastry base. Crumble the goats’ cheese into the tart. Cut some of the cherry tomatoes in half and place on top of the goats’ cheese, place a few whole ones on, too for effect.  Scatter a few fresh thyme leaves over the tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is nicely browned, the cheese melted and the tomatoes softened. Nice served with a green salad.

 

 

 

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Fig and Frangipane Tart

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I made this tart a couple of weeks ago when figs were plentiful, cheap and very luscious. Even now, on April 1st, they can still be got at farmers’ markets, the very last of the bounty of a long Indian summer.

Figs and frangipane go well together, the lovely almond cream complementing the juicy sweetness of the figs. A few posts go I made fig and frangipane muffins – here is the link – and this is the same combination in a more refined tart form.

The shortcrust pastry is based on the great Maggie Beer’s recipe using sour cream.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry base:

200gm chilled unsalted butter

250gm plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

135gm sour cream

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

10 fresh figs, quartered

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a 23cm (9 inch) fluted flan tin with a removable bottom.

To make the pastry, pulse butter, flour and caster sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out and place into the buttered flan tin.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well.

Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.  You may not need all the mixture – the idea is to have a base on which to sit the figs. Arrange the fig quarters in a circular pattern over the frangipane. You needn’t be too precise. The figs should be sitting on top of the frangipane. If they sink in, you probably have too much frangipane and may need to take some out.

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Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the frangipane is set and the pastry looks cooked round the edges. Don’t overcook so that the pastry edge burns.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve at room temperature on its own, or with cream or yoghurt.

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Peach, Nectarine and Plum Frangipane Tart

 

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It’s summer in Sydney and stone fruit are plentiful and really delicious. At this time each year I try to find lots of ways to showcase yellow and white peaches and nectarines, and blood plums with their wonderful dark red flesh.

This is a simple tart that is a great vehicle for summer stone fruits. A fillo pastry base, with a layer of frangipane and scattered with slices of fresh peaches, nectarines and plums.

A lovely way to to enjoy the summer bounty of fresh fruit.

Ingredients

For the base:

Half a 375gm packet of fillo pastry  (approximately)

2 tbls melted butter

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

For the fruit:

1 yellow or white peach

1 yellow or white nectarine

2 blooms plums

Demerara sugar, for scattering

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a flan tin with a removable bottom. I used a rectangular one – a traditional round one is fine, although the fillo pastry can be a little tricky to put into a round flan tin.

Place a sheet of fillo into the tin. Brush with melted butter. Keep on layering with fillo, brushing with melted butter between each layer, until you have used about half of the packet of fillo.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well. Spoon the frangipane over the tart base.

Now is the fun part! Slice the stone fruit, and arrange as artfully  – or as rusticslly  – as you please. Scatter some demerara sugar over the fruit slices.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the fillo is lightly browned and crisp around the edges, and the fruit is soft.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve warm or cold, with cream or on its own. Delicious.

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Apple and Almond Tart

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I have been wanting to experiment with puff pastry, and now on holidays, I have the time and space to get some practice in. Hence this apple and almond tart. This tart is made with rough puff pastry. It’s still a little fiddly to make, but not quite as time-consuming as real puff pastry.

However, unless you’re in the mood for some rolling and folding, you can just as well use good butter puff pastry, ready rolled, from the supermarket.  There are plenty of good recipes for puff and rough puff pastry if you want to go down this route. James Morton in How Baking Works and Paul Hollywood in How to Bake both take you through the process. And with all the diagrams too! So I’m assuming you will use the good store-bought stuff, or follow the directions of one the afore-mentioned Baking Aficionados!

I put an almond sugar filling in the tart before arranging some red apples in slices, with skin, on the tart. The almond mixture is not quite a frangipane as it has no butter. But you still end up with a rich almond paste on which to rest the apples.

Ingredients

1 1/2 red eating apples 

Juice of a lemon

65g ground almonds

65g caster sugar

65g icing sugar

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 quantity puff or rough puff pastry (enough to make a tart base about the size of a dinner plate  – maybe 26 cm?)

Raw or ordinary caster sugar to scatter over the tart.

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

To make the almond filling combine the ground almonds and sugars in the bowl of food processor. Add the almond extract and enough of the beaten egg to make a paste. The paste should be just firm enough to spread/ease into your pastry base.

Core and slice the apples thinly, and place the slices into the lemon juice to stop them going brown.

Roll out your chilled pastry, and cut a large circle, using a dinner plate as a guide. Place the circle on baking paper on a baking tray. Score the circle with another circle, 2cm inside the outer edge. This will give your tart an edge. Prick all over with a fork.

Place the almond mixture on to the pastry, leaving the outer 2cm circle free. Don’t worry if it doesn’t quite cover the pastry, just do your best. rough is OK. Drain the apples slices and place in any artistic way you like on the tart.

Brush the 2cm edge of the tart with the rest of the beaten egg.  Scatter the caster sugar over the tart, apples and the edge, but making sure the apples get a good covering. Place the tart in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. The tart should be golden brown, and puffy round the edge.

Serve warm or cool with plenty of thick cream!

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Cherry Tomato Quiche

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I haven’t made quiche in ages, and I was excited to have the excuse to make one again.

There was a farewell lunch at work for a colleague, so I thought it was time to dust off my quiche recipe! I usually do the standard quiche Lorraine, but, as tomatoes are pretty good in the late Sydney summer months, I decided to use beautifully ripe cherry tomatoes in my quiche. To make the whole thing fresh and summery, I used spring onions, rather than onions, utilizing the green tops as well as the white onion bottoms. For an extra tomatoey zing, I chopped up a half a dozen semi-dried tomatoes too.

The whole thing was much easier than a quiche Lorraine, the only cooking being the blind bake of the pastry and then the filled tart.

Very fresh, very summery, very delicious!

Ingredients
200g chilled unsalted butter
250g plain flour
135g sour cream

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced.
To make the sour cream pastry, pulse butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in a well greased fluted quiche tin.
Rest for 15 minutes in refrigerator. This helps reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights on baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and baking paper.
Decrease oven temperature to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced.

To serve: a handful of fresh basil leaves and some slow roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Method
Scatter the finely chopped spring onions over the base of the blind-baked pastry case. Chop the cherry tomatoes in quarters, leaving a couple of the smaller ones in halves. Scatter the quarters over the pastry base. Roughly chop the semi-dried or sun-dried tomatoes, and scatter these between the cherry tomatoes.
In a bowl or large jug (the latter is very useful as you can pour the custard into the quiche tin easily), beat the eggs, cream and milk together until thoroughly combined. Add salt, pepper and grated Parmesan.
Carefully pour the custard mixture into the quiche tin. (I find it easiest to place the tin in the oven first before pouring). At this stage, you can place the half cherry tomatoes artfully in the tart. But if, like my quiche, the halves sink during cooking – don’t worry! It’s just an idea to highlight the lovely cherry tomatoes.
Bake until the custard is just set but still wobbly – about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven.
Carefully remove and leave to cool slightly before serving.

The quiche is fine as is, or you can serve with a few basil leaves, and/or some cherry tomatoes on the vine, which you slow roast for a couple of  hours until wilted.

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Strawberry Jam Crostata

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Quirky Niece No 1 gave me a really easy recipe for Crostata, or Italian jam tart. She acquired the recipe on a recent trip to Italy. She tells a lovely story, below in this post, of her time in Italy with Companion to Quirky Niece.

“So, as part of our spontaneous European holiday, we decided to hire a car and drive around Tuscany for 5 days. After a hairy hour or so battling peak-hour Florence traffic due to a GPS mayhap, we finally found ourselves out in the countryside and at our first airbnb accommodation, a sprawling country house on an agriturismo near Montepulciano. In the warm summer evenings we sat on the balcony, looking out at the glittering lights of the ancient city, and every morning, we ate a sumptuous breakfast prepared by our beautiful hosts, which included fresh cheeses, sliced meats and a wonderful jam tart. We could never finish it, so we took it with us on our adventures, only to find another one freshly baked the next day! On our final day, I asked our friendly host which baker she bought it from. Highly amused, she responded that she was a terrible cook, but this was her special foolproof recipe. In an instant, she quickly set her baby down and wrote up the ingredients on a post-it. And now, it has become my go-to entertaining recipe as well!  I use all kinds of jam, so long as they have delicious chunks of fruit, and I remember our host’s exhortations to prick the base thoroughly with a fork before spooning in the jam.”
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I made the crostata recently using this recipe. I made a quick strawberry jam for the filling, but any good quality store bought jam would do. In hindsight, my pastry was too thick – I would use a larger baking mold next time, for a more manageable pastry base.
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Ingredients

300g plain flour
½ sachet of baking powder (1 sachet = 11g)
150g sugar
100g butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks

Quantity of any good jam for the filling ( I used strawberry here)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a tart mold with baking paper or you could simply grease a baking tray if you want a true rustic crostata.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse till the mixture just comes together.

Make a well  in the centre  and add the butter and egg and egg yolks and mix in gently until combined but not overworked.

Roll out the dough roughly  – remember this is not a precise tart – and line the tart mold. Or gently shape the dough into a round with a pastry rim on the baking tray. And prick the base – something I forgot to do this time!

Fill the tart with the jam and bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and the jam bubbling.

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Simple Quince Tart

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This is a really easy tart. Some short crust pastry blind baked in a flan dish and some wonderful baked quinces layered in the pastry. Serve with cream. Bliss.

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful dinner with friends. Slow cooked lamb followed by tarte tatin made with quinces, which were redolent with heady spices. Cooked overnight, the quinces were a beautiful deep ruby red colour, and the cooking liquid had become quince jelly.

To me, baked quinces are the epitome of gorgeous winter comfort food!

My tart was not so elaborate as the tarte tatin but easy to knock up on a winter weekend afternoon, and quite delicious. This is a small flan just enough for 3 or 4 people.

Baked Quinces

Ingredients
50g butter
2 quinces
120g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Peel the quinces, halve lengthways and remove cores. Cut in quarters or slices. Melt butter in a heavy oven proof baking dish. Roll the quinces in the melted butter. Scatter over sugar and squeeze the lemon juice over the quince pieces.

Cover tightly with a doubled sheet of foil. Bake the quinces for 2-3 hours, basting a few times through the process, until the quinces are soft and a ruby red colour. Remove from the dish to cool.

Short Crust Pastry*

Ingredients
100g chilled unsalted butter
125g plain flour
75g sour cream

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, 170 degrees C fan forced. Pulse the butter and flour in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Remove from the processor and shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out to 3mm thick and place in a well greased flan dish or mold, about 18cm or 7 inches in diameter. Any small mold will do.

Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge. This will help reduce shrinkage when cooking. Remove from the fridge, place some pie weights or rice on the baking paper inside the tart, and bake blind in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the weights or rice and the baking paper.

To assemble

When cool, place slices of baked quince as elegantly or as rustically as you please in the flan. Serve as is or with cream or creme fraiche.

*This makes enough for a small flan. Doubling the quantities will give you a large pastry shell. You would need 4-5  baked quinces to fill a larger flan.

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