Do you ever have nights when the cooking goes horribly wrong? So wrong that you find yourself a) with no appetite left and just having a drink instead, b) trying to rescue the overdone, the tasteless or the unrecognisable or, as I was last Friday, c) facing the imminent arrival of four guests in 15 minutes with the main course nowhere near done and the starter burnt? Oh yes, it wasn’t my finest moment and it all started to go wrong when the supermarket had no ready-made puff pastry for the apparently really easy Ottolenghi caramelised garlic tart that I was going to try. I bought shortcrust instead (figuring, probably wrongly, that the filling would work just as well in a completely different shell) and then, when I got home, I found that my tart tin was a 20cm, not the required 28cm (which sounds monstrously big to me…).
I gave up then; I am not so foolhardy as to keep going when I’m already two strikes down.
But I was left with no main course for a vegetarian dinner and very little time so, as is my wont, I fell back on my old friend, cheese soufflé. It was nowhere near ready when everyone arrived, I made far too much but, every failed tart has a silver lining (as it were…) because I discovered the next day that you don’t have to cook it as soon as you fold in the egg whites; it’s just as yummy the next day. I’m delighted to have discovered that little secret.
It also meant that I had not one but two packets of shortcrust pastry, double cream and several types of goat’s cheese sitting around in the fridge in need of a home. And since the local greengrocer’s was selling the most enormous celeriac I have ever seen (that’s not hyperbole; wait till you see the picture tomorrow), I thought a little Dan Lepard tart was in order. The only hard parts of this recipe are peeling the celeriac (which is a bit like shaving someone’s head and, yes, I’ve done both) and rolling the pastry; make sure both are done nice and finely and you will have a really fast and easy treat on your hands. I used about 250-300g of readymade shortcrust but the packets usually contain a bit more than that so use as much as you need for your tart tin. Think I might make it with goat’s cheese and caramelised onion next time.
Goat’s cheese and celeriac tart (adapted from Short and Sweet)
For a 23cm or so tart (feeds about four or two very greedy people) you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have):
salt and pepper
garlic, 1 clove
ready-made shortcrust pastry, 300g
cornflour, 1 teaspoon
double cream, 175g (recipe says extra-thick but I used what I had: a mix of double and single)
celeriac, 150g (that’s not much)
goat’s cheese, 125g
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
2. Peel and crush the garlic; peel and finely slice the celeriac into thin strips; chop the goat’s cheese into small pieces.
3. In a largish bowl mix together the eggs, garlic, cornflour, cream and a bit of salt and pepper.
4. Roll out the pastry to a circle big enough to line your tin, line it and cut off the excess.
5. Fill the tin with the sliced celeriac and the cubes of cheese then tip over the eggs and cream.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes until ‘puffed and golden’.