Happy New Year!
May your coming year be filled with magic & dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to makes some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself".
So far Auckland has put on a spectacular 2015. Sunshine & summer, as always, worth the wait. In fact perhaps the wait makes us a little more appreciative of these beautiful days.
Along with beautiful sunny days the hamathon continues & the mountain gets a little smaller day by day. It may resemble a hill by next week! It continued the other day with this tart. And this one is a keeper....well if you like cheese. And what kind of person doesn’t like cheese?? This is ham & cheese taken to a whole new level.
Ham & cheese – inseparable companions. There’s the classic; the humble ham & cheese sandwich. Toasted & with a splash of Worcestershire sauce it’s even better. And perhaps not so humble in France or Spain or Italy; cooked ham & emmental in crunchy baguettes in France, a crusty roll with manchego & jamon in Spain & perhaps prosciutto & pecorino panini in Italy. If you want to really push the boat out head to France where there’s Croque Monsieur; a little béchamel added to the mix & perhaps a little Dijon. That not enough for you try Croque Madame with the fried egg on top.
Ham & Spinach Tart, adapted from Jamie At Home
Quantities changed to suit my pie case & cheddar instead of Parmesan which made it ever so cheesy!
1/2 recipe savoury short crust pastry – see below.
A knob of butter
1 red onion, peeled & chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled & chopped
200g / 6oz spinach (you can also use nettles, Swiss chard or borage), washed, thick stems removed
A few sprigs of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
Salt & pepper
200g / 6oz crème fraîche
75g / 2.5oz cheddar cheese
100g / 3oz ham, diced
First, make your pastry (recipe below), wrap it in plastic wrap & rest it in the fridge for at least half an hour. Get the pastry out & roll it with a rolling pin between 2 sheets of baking paper* until about ½ centimetre thick & big enough to line your tart tin with a centimetre or so of an overhang. This was enough for my rectangle case (350mm x 110mm), but you can use round or any shape you like.
*avoids a floury mess!
Grease the tart tin & pop in the pastry. Press in to the tart tin & trim most of the excess off the edges, leaving a centimetre or so overhang. Prick the pastry all over with a fork & chill in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ 375F.
Remove the tart from the fridge & blind bake your pastry crust with rice or baking beans for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Next, heat a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan & gently fry the onions on a low heat for 10 minutes until they're soft, sweet & translucent.
Turn up the heat to medium & add the garlic, the spinach (in batches if your pan isn't big enough) & most of the marjoram. Season with a little salt & pepper & give it a good stir. Take the pan off the heat when the spinach has wilted; this will only take a couple of minutes. Set aside.
Next for the filling; place the crème fraîche into a bowl, stir in the grated cheddar, eggs & a pinch of salt & pepper. Mix well together & set aside. To assemble the tart spread the spinach mixture over the bottom of your pastry case. Scatter over the ham & spoon the cheese mixture evenly over the top, smoothing it out with the back of the spoon & make sure it fills the whole pastry case. Scatter over the rest of the marjoram & pop it in the oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly & golden on top & the filling just set.
Jamie’s Best Ever Savoury Short Crust Pastry*
*have to agree here it is the best savoury pastry I’ve made. Cheese like bacon makes just about everything better.
**tip….for shortcrust pastry – half fat to flour
500g / 18oz all-purpose /plain flour
200g / 7oz butter
50g / 2oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
2 eggs, beaten
A splash of milk
A little flour for dusting
Pour in the eggs & add the milk. Pulse for a few more seconds until the mixture comes together; just together as you want to work the pastry as little as possible. Scoop your pastry dough out of the food processor & onto a clean, floured work surface & pat it a few times to make it more compact don't be tempted to knead it, again we want to work it as little as possible. When you have a flat round, wrap the dough in a plastic wrap & place it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.
*For all things Russell Hobbs head over here.