Like many areas of our life, different foods trend at different points of time. Part of this comes from a shift in awareness, globalization, a greater understanding of seasonal and local and health factors. However, there are also a number of dishes that simply fell off the radar. These are perfectly lovely dishes which perhaps our mothers relied upon their mothers to make. The result: like Latin, these homemade dishes too are dying out.
I think many would agree that quiches fall in to this category. Whilst some of us are willing to give it an extra consideration on a brunch menu, the thought of making it at home would turn us in to ‘granny’ entertaining her friends at afternoon tea. Ever wondered why? Are only cute little old ladies and their stories about the war, equipped to enjoy a crumbly tart filled with warm savory custard and perhaps some ham and cheese?
This week, I decided to ‘go there’. With beautiful seasonal asparagus in my refrigerator, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese, it was a delicious pairing of sweet, tart and nutty flavors. It wasn’t as time consuming as I thought and required a lot less of my time at the stove itself. If you are like me and have 2 left hands, making the tart shell will require some concentration, but with a little practice, that too becomes a lot easier.
This is a perfect summers dish when one shy’s away from heavy, hot and rich dishes. The tart shell provides a lovely texture to contrast with the smooth and soft custard filling. Serve with a green salad tossed in olive oil and red wine vinegar and a nice chilled rose.
Makes 4 small tarts or 1 large one
4oz All Purpose Flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. granulated sugar
2oz cold butter
Asparagus – 4 spears
6 Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Chives 2 tsp.
¼ cup of Goats Cheese
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of paprika and nutmeg
1/2cupcrumbled aged goat cheese (such as Bûcheron), without rind
1) Add egg, butter, salt and sugar to food processor and pulse until they are the size of small lentils
2) Add the egg and pulse a few times just until it comes together. DO NOT overwork the dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes t rest
3) Roll out until it is 2mm thick. Grease your tart shell pan. Gently slide a rolling pin under the dough and lay over the pan. Push in to the pan corners and trim around the edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
4) Prod holes in the pastry with a fork (docking) and blind bake* at 400 degrees until golden brown around the edges (for approximately 20 minutes). Remove the weights and foil
*To blind bake, line the pastry with some foil and fill the foil with beans to or pastry beads to hold down the pastry from rising.
1) Blanche the asparagus and distribute amongst the tarts shells
2) Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place three in each shell
3) Distribute lumps of goats cheese in each shell
1) Combine milk, cream, egg, egg yolk, and salt in medium bowl. Pour milk mixture over tart ingredients. Sprinkle chives. Bake until filling is almost set, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overcook as it continues to cook when removed from oven). Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or cold
Nothing more than a fresh green salad
Pearls of wisdom
Don’t over work the dough or you will take it to a point of no return
Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC. Still in ancient times, it was known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans would even freeze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus reserved the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action.’
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