The art of the tart

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Who can resist a great food pun? Done well, they’re egg-cellent.  Definitely dumpling you should know. Food and puns are made pho each other and tarts and puns go whey back, albeit based on rather old school derogatory terminology for women. After all, who doesn’t love a good tart, they can bake your day. (Said a man no doubt) Bitch, peas. We can do butter than this now. Lettuce move on, there’s mushroom for improvement.

Room for improvement in our food punning humour that is, not in tarts themselves. Tarts, in all their shapes and forms are a practically perfect food group. And this is actually meant to be a tart recipe, rather than paragraphs of my favourite puns or an article on my inner fillings (sorry couldn’t resist) on antiquated humour. So, onwards.

Officially a tart is “an open pastry case containing a sweet or savoury filling.” So far, so open to interpretation. With endless varieties of pastries, cases and fillings, you could probably make a different type of tart every day for years and still be coming up with new variations.

But the basic formula is a good one; a crisp, buttery (or otherwise fat based) shell housing whatever salty, sweet, vegetarian, meaty, creamy, sharp or smooth filling you fancy. They can be big, little, canape sized, served hot, cold, for lunch, a starter, your main or your dessert. Who knows, I’m sure a breakfast tart probably exists and could be the most delicious of things. (Bacon, eggs, herbs, tomatoes….see?!)

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This particular tart is one of my favourites because it ticks all the boxes; tastes delicious, is easy to make and looks as pretty as a picture. You don’t need a special tart tin to line, you don’t have to worry about blind baking the pastry and you could be eating this tart about 2 hours from when you decide you’d like to make it. Although it also keeps really well so it’s a great make ahead for lunchboxes or for impressing your friends at your next picnic.

The pastry is easy to make (promise) and with the addition of cheddar cheese it gives the tart a crisp base with a mellow cheesy flavour. Plus you get the credit of saying you made your own pastry from scratch. (tick, tick)

And while I’m giving a specific recipe here, the filling itself could be endless adapted depending on what’s in your fridge, what’s in season or just what you fancy. You have to pay attention to the recipe when making the pastry, but you can pretty much take the ingredients & quantities of the filling as a mere suggestion.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think. Of either the tart or your one in a melon best food pun.

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Ingredients

Pastry 

  • 250g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60g of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 30g cheddar, emmental or comté cheese, finely grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Filling

Aim to cut all veg into rounds / slices / chunks of about 1/2 to 1cm thick.

  • 3 tbsp pesto (you could also use salsa verde, tapenade, babaganoush, chilli jam or harissa here, anything with an ooomph of flavour that you love)
  • 1 medium aubergine, trimmed, quartered and sliced
  • 1 pepper (red, green or yellow), deseeded, quartered and slices
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 courgettes, cut into rounds
  • 1 leek, cut into rounds
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 8 baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 100g (3½oz) soft goat’s cheese or feta
  • 4tbsp crème fraîche (you could also use thick greek yoghurt)
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 sundried tomatoes chopped up finely (approximately and optional)

 

Method

To prep the veg for the filling

  • Turn on the oven to 200°C or 180°C fan.
  • Prep all the vegetables then spread out across two roasting trays so they’re in a single layer rather than all on top of each other. Sprinkle with the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated. Roast for 20 mins, turning them after 10 mins. Leave to cool.

To make the pastry

  • Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and using your fingers rub in the cold butter until you reach fine breadcrumb stage. (This will take a few minutes) Stir in the grated cheese then add 2tbsp of the beaten egg and 2-3tbsp cold water to make a soft, not sticky, dough. Knead until smooth. Chill for at least 10 minutes.
  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round about 30cm (12in) diameter. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Brush the pastry with a little of the beaten egg.

To assemble the tart

  • Spread the pesto over the middle of the pastry base, leaving a 5cm (2in) border.
  • Pile the prepped vegetables and tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with bits of cheese and even drizzle over from more pesto if you fancy. Fold the pastry edge upwards and inwards, over the vegetables, overlapping and sealing to make a free-form tart.  It should look rustic! Brush with beaten egg.
  • Beat the rest of the egg with the crème fraîche, thyme and seasoning. Pour carefully into the tart.
  • Bake for approx 40 mins, until the pastry is golden and the filling has set. Serve warm or cold.

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2 thoughts on “The art of the tart

  1. larsmarshandlebars February 5, 2019 / 11:53 am

    I once dated a girl whose mum’s full name was Marion Berry. Whilst riding in the car with father driving, I foolishly pointed out that the marionberry is a real berry, similar in flavour to blackberry but larger and a bit more tart! His fists visibly clenched the wheel as he accelerated!

    Like

    • fi_says February 5, 2019 / 12:01 pm

      Hahahaha. Cute name though 🙂

      Like

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