Category Archives: tarts

Chicory, Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart

Chicory

Because I have pretensions towards being middle class, I get a vegetable box from Abel & Cole delivered each fortnight. And, because I am horrendously forgetful – particularly when it comes to vegetable deliveries – I often neglect to take a look at their website to see what’s going to be in it each week. While this often leads to me opening my box to find delicious surprises inside, it also means that I’m frequently presented with vegetables which I have no idea what to do with (Kohlrabi, anyone?) This is how I found myself frantically googling ‘chicory recipes’ recently. I had a vague memory of eating it in a (frankly disgusting) gratin once –  the sprinkling of anemic looking breadcrumbs doing nothing to disguise its hideous slimy bitterness – so I wasn’t feeling too confident. And I certainly didn’t want to find myself spending an hour of my life slaving over a hot stove only to make something which looked vile, smelt like a foot and ended up being swiftly dispatched to the bin.

Then inspiration kindly decided to roll out of my kitchen cupboards in the form of my tart tin. I’m very fond of baking up leftover vegetables into various creations, and I’m even fonder of finding an excuse to wrap them up in pastry. I had a vague inkling that chicory and blue cheese went well together, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was eating gigantic slabs of this Chicory, Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart for my lunch.

Chicory Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tart

Comprising of caramelised onions and chicory, and a larger-than-really-needed handful of blue cheese,  this is quite a robust little number. It’s helped in no small part by the delicious olive oil tart crust I used as a base. Taken from the delightful French food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, it’s a doddle to make, comes together in minutes and rolls out like a dream (although it can be a bit springy when chilled.)  I found this crust to be perfect for this recipe, although I’m sure that no one will complain if you use ready made shortcrust instead (and if they do, I suggest you throw them some serious side-eye.) This makes a fine lunch, a divine dinner and a seriously superb snack.  It goes very well with a crisp green salad and an even crisper glass of white wine. Alternatively, it also works well being eaten in the light of your fridge while listening to the World at One.

A slice of chicory tart

CHICORY, BLUE CHEESE AND CARAMELISED ONION TART

You will need:

  • One tart crust (either make your own, or use your preferred brand of shortcrust pastry)
  • 2 bulbs of chicory
  • 1 large red onion
  • 30g butter
  • 1tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50ml creme fraiche
  • 100g blue cheese (I used Cashel Blue), crumbled into lumps
  • Salt & Pepper

Make It!

  1. First, prepare your tart crust. Roll the pastry out to 3mm thickness, and gently lay it over a tart tin. Blind bake it for 15-20  minutes at 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you’re preparing the filling.
  2. Slice the onion and the chicory into rounds (making sure to discard the hard core of the chicory.) Heat the sugar and butter together until they are browned and bubbling slightly. Fry the onion and chicory for roughly 5 – 7 minutes until they are soft and golden. Remove from the pan, and set to one side.
  3. Beat the eggs and creme fraiche together, add the lumps of blue cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Layer the chicory and onions inside your baked tart case, and pour the wet mixture over the top, ensuring that the blue cheese crumbs are spread evenly.
  4. Bake at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for 30 – 35 minutes until set. Leave to cool for fifteen minutes before serving.  This should be good for around a week, meaning it’s great if you want to cook it the day before taking it to a picnic or brunch. 

 

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Milk Chocolate Tart with Cherry Sorbet

It’s the last Friday of 2011, and, as is customary, I am currently sat in my pyjamas scoffing leftover Christmas chocolates and thinking about the events of the past year. 2011 has been a funny one for me. Whilst there’s been no deaths in the family, or even (bar Mr. Cay’s dodgy mouth) any major health scares, I’d  be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly glad to see the back of it. There’s been one too many mistakes and regrets for my liking – friends who turned out to be anything but, chances which I cocked up due to my own idiocy, loaves of elaborately sweetened bread which descended into mires of gloop. And let’s not mention the calimari I attempted to make last night which turned into a rubbery, soggy mess.

As it is, I’m immensely looking forward to 2012, with the blind idiocy of a person who is trying not to panic about just how much she has to accomplish over the course of the next twelve months. After all, it’s the year where I have to write a book, get married and turn 30 whilst attempting to retain my sanity amidst the chaos. I could panic about it all, but that would be pointless. As it is, tomorrow night I shall just raise my whisky glass, shout BRING IT ON WORLD! at midnight, and indulge in another slice of this Milk Chocolate Tart.

Prior to making this, I’d never had much luck with tarts. The pastry always turned out to be too soggy, or cracked, or just couldn’t handle the strain of a huge custard filling. But then I turned to that guru of all things baked, Dan Lepard. And what do you know, I think I may have finally gotten to grips with this whole ‘pastry’ lark.

The recipe for this Milk Chocolate Tart is based (very loosely) on his Pecan Crusted Bourbon Chocolate Tart. There, he suggests chilling the dough twice, which helps to keep it firm, and reduces shrinkage whilst baking. Because it’s the season to get down and get merry, I added a good shot of Black Grouse whisky to the Milk Chocolate custard. Black Grouse is a peated malt with overtones of caramel, sugar and a slight hit of smoke – and is just the thing to cut through the sweetness of so much chocolate.

The cherry sorbet is also a must when you’re serving this – its sharpness perfectly compliments the tart. Indeed, I quite enjoyed just eating it on its own – scooping it out of the tub with a big spoon when no one was looking. All in all, this is a dessert to savour –  a small slice of indulgence to enjoy whilst you’re seeing out the old year and welcoming in the new. Happy New Year (and, because I don’t say it often enough, thank you for continuing to read Little Red Courgette!)

MILK CHOCOLATE TART WITH A CHERRY SORBET (Serves 8-10 slices)

Milk Chocolate Tart adapted from a recipe by Dan Lepard

You will need:

For the Milk Chocolate Tart

  • 125g plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk

For the filling

  • 300ml double cream
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 400g good quality milk chocolate, chopped (I used a combination of Green & Blacks, and Lindt)
  • 75g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 50ml whisky

For the cherry sorbet

  • 400g cherries, washed and de-pitted (be careful when you’re de-pitting your cherries – I did it by squishing them and my kitchen ended up looking like the scene of a particularly brutal murder)
  • 200g white sugar
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice of a lemon

Make It!

    1. Sift the flour and caster sugar into a bowl. Cut up the butter, add to the flour mixture and rub in with your fingertips until any lumps vanish.  Mix the egg yolk with a teaspoon of ice-cold water and add it to the bowl until a soft dough forms. Pat into a flat slab, cover it with cling film and chill in the fridge until firm (this should take around 20 – 30 minutes).
    2. When you’re ready to roll, let the dough soften for five to 10 minutes at room temperature until pliable, then roll it out thinly on a floured surface (if you don’t own a rolling pin, you can use a floured empty wine bottle to do this). Line a tart tin with the pastry, then place the tart case in the fridge until it firmed.
    3. Press a sheet of  greaseproof paper weighed down with baking beans against the base and side, bake at 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and bake for 10 minutes more.
    4. For the filling, heat the cream until boiling, remove from the heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Add the chocolate and butter, stir until both have melted, then stir in the whisky. Leave to cool until lukewarm, then beat the mixture slightly until it turns thick and gooey. Pour into the pastry case and chill until set.
    5. For the sorbet: Place the cherries in a large bowl and macerate them with the side of a spoon until the flesh has turned pulpy. Put the cherries, sugar, water, lemon zest and vanilla essence in a heavy based, high sided saucepan . Place over a low to medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved turn up the heat slightly and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly (be careful whilst doing this – the mixture will bubble up very quickly once it reaches boiling point). Squeeze over the lemon juice and stir to combine.
    6. Place the sorbet mixture into an ice cream machine, and churn for around 30 minutes until the mixture has firmed up, yet is still slightly slushy when prodded with a fork. Place in the freezer until ready to serve.
    7. Serve the tart and the sorbet together with a large shot of your favourite poison.
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