Wild garlic pesto, asparagus and goats cheese puff tart

Featured

This puff pastry tart makes the most of the seasonal produce around at the moment. The wild garlic and asparagus season in the UK is short so now is the time to get your hands on them and get cooking. Wild garlic is as it sounds- wild! You can forage it (if you’re sure what you’re looking for) but can now be found in some farmers markets or specialist grocers. It can be used in a range of dishes and pesto is only the start and even this can be picked up premade. Failing this, substitute this with a different pesto of your choosing. To ramp up the flavours in this tart, I have also used some Parma ham which I crisped and crumbled over the top for an extra element and texture.

 

Ingredients- serves 4
1 premade pack of puff pastry
3 tbsp wild garlic pesto (see below for recipe)
200g asparagus spears
100g soft rindless goats cheese
4 slices of Parma or Carmarthen ham
1 egg- lightly beaten

Wild garlic pesto
120g wild garlic leaves
1 garlic clove- crushed
15g pine nuts
200ml olive oil
Zest of a small lemon
35g parmesan
Seasoning

1. Get going by preheating the oven to 200c/ 180fan but do check the instructions on the pastry packaging in case this differs slightly. Take the sheet of pastry and place it on a work surface. Leaving a border around the edges of the pastry sheet, use the prongs of a fork to lightly prick the centre of the sheet. This will stop the centre of the pastry from puffing up but will let the edges do so.

2. If you want to make your own wild garlic pesto then simply take the leaves and blanch for 20 seconds in a pan of boiling water. Remove using a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water to refresh it. Take some kitchen roll and pat it dry before roughly chopping. Add all the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blitz and, hey pesto! Sorry… couldn’t resist…

2. Take the pesto of your choice and spread this in the centre of the pastry. Make sure this is as even as possible. Lay each asparagus spear on the pastry and scatter pieces of the cheese in amongst them.

3. In a small pan dry fry the parma ham slices until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside for a moment; you will find that as they cool they go even crispier which makes the slices much easier to crumble or you can use a knife to roughly chop into smaller pieces.I added the ham topping towards the end of cooking so it didn’t catch..

4. Lastly, use a pastry brush and carefully glaze the edges of the tart with the beaten egg. This will give a wonderful sheen and shine to the tart. Cook the tart for around 20 minutes until the asparagus is tender and the pastry is golden. About 2-3 minutes before the pastry is ready then sprinkle over the parma ham before finishing off. I served this with a simple side salad and new potatoes. Jersey Royals are bang in season so look out for these too. Boil and toss with some butter and fresh herbs.

Wild garlic pesto, asparagus and goats cheese puff pastry tart- a light way to use the best of spring’s offerings!

Tomato and ricotta puff pastry tart

Featured

At this time of year tomatoes are bursting with juice and packed full of flavour so it’s the ideal season to make the most of them. Great tasting tomatoes need little done to them in order to bring out their best so this tomato and ricotta tart is a perfect way to enjoy them. I also have it on good authority that any leftovers are ideal for an easy lunch the next day!

Supermarkets and farmer’s markets are making it easier and easier to get hold of heirloom (heritage) varieties so get shopping and choose your favourites. I have used yellow and red tomatoes in order to add extra colour to the tart but use whatever tomatoes you can find and like.

IMG_20160721_203510

Ingredients- serves 2-3
1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
Selection of tomatoes- approx. 300g
200g ricotta
Fresh basil and oregano
Salt and pepper
1 egg- beaten

1. Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the pastry packet as these can sometimes differ. About ten minutes before you want to make the tart, remove the pastry from the fridge and then roll out. Take a small dining plate and place it upside down on the pastry. Carefully cut around it. Take a small knife and lightly run the blade about 1cm from the edge of the sheet to form a border.

2. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, torn fresh basil and oregano (if you can find it) and season well. If you can’t find fresh oregano then you can use a little dried oregano instead but go easy on it. Spoon the ricotta mix on the pastry sheet and spread evenly using the back of a spoon; leave the border clear of the cheese otherwise it won’t puff up.

3. Cut the tomatoes into rounds and arrange on the tart base. When ready to cook, carefully brush a little beaten egg on the border of the tart and bake for around 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Serve with a side salad and buttered new potatoes.

Tomato and ricotta tart- a perfect way to enjoy the best of the season’s produce!

 

Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate tarts

Featured

With Wimbledon underway this summer, now is the time to embrace the best of British with the strawberries that are bang in season. These tarts are individual so you can enjoy all the flavours without having to share with anyone else! I have given the quantities for 4 tarts however some pastry sheets may be slightly larger than others and you may be able to make a couple of extras. The tins used are 10cm in diameter which is the perfect size for one person. Alternatively you could use a larger tin to make one tart. The mascarpone cream can be made the day ahead if you like; simply keep in a covered bowl in the fridge until you’re ready to make the tarts.

IMG_20160628_071604

Ingredients- makes 4 individual tarts
1 sheet of readymade sweet pastry
200g mascarpone
1 tbsp icing sugar
Zest of half a lemon
20 strawberries of similar size
30g pistachios- roughly chopped
100g white chocolate

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tins and blind bake for 10 minutes. Do this by placing a piece of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. Blind baking will ensure you have a cooked through tart case. After the ten minutes, remove the parchment paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Remove the tart cases from the oven and allow to cool before filling. In the meantime you can make the mascarpone cream which is speedy and straight forward. Simply take the mascarpone and add the icing sugar and lemon zest; stir well to combine and keep it moving until the mascarpone goes glossy.

3. When the cases are cooled, add a spoonful of the mascarpone cream to each case and use the back of the spoon to smooth it so it is evenly distributed in the bottom of the case. Take the strawberries and halve them lengthways. I placed seven slices around the outer edge of the case so they are slightly overlapped. Odd numbers always end up looking best. I then fit three more slices in the centre of the tart. Take the chopped nuts and sprinkle over the strawberries.

4. Next up goes the melted chocolate. Do this by bringing a pan of water to a gentle boil and place a bowl over the top; ensure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. The chocolate will melt from the steam alone. Take the chocolate bar and separate into pieces and placing in the bowl. Gently stir the chocolate until melted and turn off the heat. I then kept the bowl over the pan so it stayed melted and much easier to drizzle. Take a teaspoon and use it to drizzle the chocolate over each tart. Allow the chocolate to set and refrigerate the tarts until needed. I dare you not to lick the spoon if you have any leftover chocolate!

Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate tarts- a perfect celebration of juicy strawberries!

Summertime courgette, feta and mint tart

Courgette is now in season so make the most of it with this courgette, feta and mint tart recipe. To make this as flavourful yet light as possible I also used a little added halloumi alongside the feta but you could always use extra feta if you prefer.

This will make two 12 inch tarts or one larger one so get your apron on and get cooking! To make this as simple as possible I used readymade shortcrust pastry to save time but feel free to make your own if you fancy.

wpid-img_20150715_161043.jpg

Ingredients
Pack of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
4 large eggs
100g feta
30g halloumi
1 large courgette or 2 medium
Handful of fresh mint- finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200c/ 180 fan; do check the instructions on the pack of pastry you have bought in case the temperatures are slightly different but this is a rough guide. Line your tart tin (or tins if making two smaller ones) and blind bake for 10 minutes. You can do this by placing a layer of baking parchment on top of the pastry and adding baking beans, dried beans such as kidney beans or rice to hold it down. You really do need to blind bake otherwise the base of the tart will be soggy and unappetising. After the ten minutes, I then removed the lining and baked for a further 5 minutes to make sure that the base cooks well.

2. Whilst that is in the oven, crack the eggs into a bowl and lightly beat; emphasis on lightly! Add in the cheese, mint and seasoning. Now comes the star of the show: the courgette. I finely sliced two thirds of the courgette and added this to the egg mixture. I then sliced the remaining courgette so this could be layered across the top of the tart when it’s assembled but you could add it all through the egg if you prefer. You could also sprinkle an extra bit of feta or halloumi over.

3. Fill each tart tin with the egg mixture and cook for around 15 minutes until the egg has set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving- nobody wants to burn their mouths on scalding egg! Serve with a salad and dig in!

Courgette, feta and mint tart- a celebration of summertime!