Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Birthdays and Leek Tarts!
It is my friend's birthday today (Happy Birthday, Paula!), so I invited another friend, Serena and Paula round for lunch.
What to cook? Didn't want to be too 'cheffy' but wanted something deelicious. Decided on Leek Tart.
Tarts (or Quiches) are so very impressive and really very simple to make, especially if you use ready-made pastry. I like to make my own pastry, but there is no shame buying it when ready-made is so good now. Then you can go to town on your fillings. Use your imagination! Be creative! There are some classic combinations like Quiche Lorraine with bacon and onions, or broccoli and blue cheese, but really anything goes. Try red onion, walnut, blue cheese and spinach, or grilled red peppers and brie, or, as I made today, sweet leeks.
Just make sure the pastry is baked 'blind' beforehand to make it crisp and light, and away you go!
23-25cm deep tart tin
1 block of shortcrust pastry or:
175g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
90g chilled butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
Heat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mk 4
Whizz the flour, salt and butter until combined. Then add the egg yolk and water and process until a dough forms. Roll it out to the size of your tin and cut to size, leaving a lip to hang over the edge a little (the pastry shrinks when it cooks, so this makes sure it still fits the tin. Bake for 10 minutes. Trim the top of the pastry around the tin.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
4 leeks, washed and chopped finely
2 eggs and 1 yolk
250ml creme fraiche or double cream
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Cook the leeks in the butter gently for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until very soft. Beat the eggs, yolk, creme fraiche or cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg until well combined. Add the leeks to the egg mixture and stir. Spread the leek mixture over the base of the pastry case and bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
I served this today with a salad with lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, a peeled and chopped pear and some blanched green beans. I rang my friend, Ellen, for her lovely 'almost Caesar Salad Dressing' recipe.
Ellen's Almost Caesar Salad Dressing!
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Mix everything together and toss with the salad.
Serena brought the richest cupcakes! They were the 'Nutella Cupcakes' from the Hummingbird Bakery Cook Book. Wow! Even I could only eat one of those - thanks Serena! Check out their websites:
What I have been cooking:
Made 'Tuna Melts' last night for tea. We love Costa!! And the tuna melt is the sandwich of choice. I have sussed it now!
Take a small ciabatta bread and split in half. In a bowl, mix a tin of tuna, mayonnaise and some grated onion. Grate some cheddar and some mozzarella cheese. Spread the tuna on to one half of the ciabatta and then sprinkle over a good amount of the cheeses. Top with the other half and wrap in foil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so, then take off the foil and bake for another 5 mins. Yum!