One of the banes of living alone, or of cooking for one or two, is leftovers. Most of the time a recipe for four or six can be scaled down to two or three but, when it comes to baking, whether savoury or sweet, it pays to make something you really love because you’re going to be eating it for a couple of days. Did someone say ‘freeze it’? Yes, but I find that once something has been in my titch of an ice box I lose the will to eat it; food that goes in never comes out alive. When was the last time you thought ‘ooh can’t wait to eat that defrosted soup/steak/muffin’? Frankly, I’d rather cook a new one. Freezers in my world are for ingredients (stock, lime leaves, chillies, butter) not finished dishes. So it’s always a joy to find something, like this tart, that bears repeat eating.
I have just had it for lunch, cold, having had it last night for dinner, hot and it was delicious on both occasions. It’s a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from the Guardian last year and, although in his version he makes his own walnut pastry, I cheated and used ready-made puff. Shortcrust would probably be slightly better but I thought it might be a tad too heavy with all that cream and cheese. The puff was a bit unruly and the finished result a little untidy but was I proud of myself for making such a beauty on a Monday night? I was. And, since I’m going singing tonight and won’t have time to cook I’ll be having it for dinner again. Do you know what? I’m already looking forward to it.
Blue cheese, leek and walnut tart (adapted from HFW)
For a 23cm tart you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
egg yolks, 4 (watch this space for a wonderful use for egg whites later this week)
salt and freshly ground pepper
ready-made shortcrust (or puff) pastry, about 250g (the Jus-rol comes in 375g packets)
blue cheese, 70g
1. Lightly butter a 23cm tart tin.
2. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about ½ cm thick.
3. Line the tart tin with the pastry, leaving the excess pastry hanging over the edges (it will shrink when you blind bake it so it is best to trim it after that) and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-assisted/gas 3.
5. When the pastry is chilled, line it with foil or baking parchment, cover with baking beans (or, in my case, uncooked rice) and bake blind for 15 minutes.
6. While the pastry is cooking prep the filling. Trim and wash the leeks, chop the butter and walnuts into small pieces and beat the egg yolks into the cream with some salt and pepper.
7. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the leeks and soften them over a low heat for about 15 minutes.
8. When the pastry has baked blind, remove it from the oven, remove the foil/baking beans, trim off any excess and return it to the oven for another 10-12 minutes until cooked and golden. If you are using puff, it will, well, puff at this moment so you will need to poke it a few times with a fork before adding the filling.
9. Once the pastry is done, remove it again and fill with first the leeks, then the cheese then the walnuts. Pour over the eggs and cream and bake until just set and golden (about 20-25 minutes).