So, that inevitable post-Christmas moment has arrived when you open the fridge, and find something with a use-by that’ll arrive before the 3 Wise Men. In my case – various things.
Having tried out a fine, fine Hairy Bikers tartlet over New Year’s (blind-bake mini pastry cases, sauté some thinly sliced pears in butter and add to cases, crumble in some Stilton and walnuts and top with a seasoned, beaten mixture of cream/milk and egg. Bake. Scoff.) having guessed quantities, I’d got waaaay too much cream and egg mixture left over. Add to that, industrial mountains of Stilton, and a large packet of smoked salmon with a use-by, you got it, of today.Woe unto me, for clearly MORE delicious tarts must ensue! What to do?
1) Bash together a pâte brisée in the food processor. Historically, I’ve been a bit rubbish at pastry, but I find this one quick to make, easier to handle, and more reliable in the oven.
It’s just 250g plain flour, 125g of cold diced butter, add in whatever you want by way of herbs/seasoning, (chopped dill and cracked black pepper today) though hold any extra salt if the butter is salted. Blitz to a fine breadcrumb texture, then add an egg yolk and 2-3 tablespoons of cold water. Mix gently, then turn out and squodge into a ball. You can chill it for 30 mins, but today I was impatient.
Roll out thinly - this quantity did a large round flan dish with spare – push well into the corners, and leave a slight overhang to stop it from sinking down the sides. This pastry, however, slumps much less than the conventional stuff – bonus! With the trimmings, I also had enough spare for a shallow 5-inch square dish.
I blind-baked it, and this DOES make a difference – you get a much crispier case for your time. Bake for ten-fifteen mins at 180oC with greaseproof paper and baking beans/crusts/lentils/whatevs holding down the base, then hoik the paper etc. out and bake for another ten-fifteen mins until the pastry looks dry.
2) Meanwhile, blanch some broccolini for literally 3ish minutes until al dente, then douse with cold water – it’ll keep them grassy green, and avoid that depressing overcooked olive colour. Roughly chop the smoked salmon and Stilton; in this case, about 200g of each. For the egg and cream mixture, it was probably about 2 eggs and 1/3 pint of cream/milk mix. You can do all cream, but it will be very rich. I added black pepper, but again no salt as Stilton and smoked salmon are pretty salty.
3) Layer up the goodies in the cases, finishing with the crumbled cheese, then pour over the cream/egg mix. It shouldn’t overfill the case – we’re looking for tart, more than quiche here. Bake it at 180oC until the egg mixture looks set and the top goes light gold – my little square dish was cooked substantially quicker and came out first. The big one took a good forty minutes, but play it by eye/texture, and don’t be fooled by the melted cheese if you stick a fork in.
It’s best served warm, with a full chorus of appreciate nomming noises. :)