Tomato Provençale Tart.

The SmartCookieSam family have just come back from our summer holidays in the South of France.  It’s been 9 years since we last went to France.  We’ve always loved going there and as I speak French, it always feels like a special place to me.  Of course part of going to France is to enjoy all the lovely food and wine and our holiday  was no exception.

We stayed in a beautiful villa outside the medieval town of Flayosc near Draguignan and for most of our shopping used the huge Carrefour supermarket on the edge of Draguignan.  I was blown away by the sheer quality of the fruit and vegetables for a start.  Tomatoes never taste the same in the UK as they do in the mediterranean countries, to me.

The day after we got home I had to head up to our local supermarket to stock up.  I’d been so taken by all the Provencale type foods and dishes I’d seen, I was keen to make something  French for our dinner.  My son was over at his girlfriend’s house and he balks at anything with tomatoes in it unless it’s ketchup! I was looking in one of the Great British Bake Off books and found a mouthwatering sounding recipe in the book to accompany the 2013 series The Great British Bake Off Everyday.  There was a recipe for Roast Tomato Tart.  It captured all the typical Mediterranean flavours and could be adapted to have pesto sauce  in it in place of mustard.  I chose to stick with mustard.  The tart is a shortcrust pastry base infused with rosemary, baked blind and then spread with Dijon mustard and grated Gruyere cheese.  Then the tart is topped with sliced tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil and then salt and pepper.

The recipe makes a tart in a circular 1 x 23cm loose based quiche tin but I chose to try out a rectangular flan tin I’d bought in John Lewis last year and never used.  I found I had slightly too many tomatoes to go in the tin but I just added them to the side salad I was serving with the tart.

Ingredients:

200g plain flour

1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried, as I didn’t have fresh)

140g butter chilled and diced

3-4 tbsp iced cold water

800g ripe tomatoes

1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard or pesto sauce

175g Gruyere or Emmental cheese, grated

1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

A couple of pinches of herbes de Provence

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, you make up the rosemary shortcrust pastry.  This can be done in a food processor or by hand.  I thought that by the time I’d faffed about getting the food processor out, I could have made up the pastry.  But if you have one and it’s not a pain getting it out of the cupboard, it makes making pastry so much easier.  Rub the butter into the flour until it makes fine breadcrumbs then add the water little by little.  Form into a ball with the end of a round bladed knife.  It should be a soft but not sticky dough.  Wrap the dough into cling film and put in your fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

Flour your work top with some plain flour or if you’re like me, pour too much out so it goes all over the kitchen floor.  When you have done that, get the dough out of the fridge and roll the pastry out to fit the flan tin allowing extra to overhang because of shrinkage.

Then the oven needs to be heated up to 190oC/

 

Excuse the awful pictures but I was taking the photos in a hurry.  Especially doing them before Mr SmartCookieSam saw me taking the pictures and would say he didn’t “want to see his dinner on bloody Facebook!”

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Our New Years’ Day Tradition- Steak and Mushroom Pie.

Happy New Year!  I hope that 2017 brings you luck, health and happiness. 2016 was a mixed year for a lot of people and I just hope this year doesn’t continue in the same way.  I feel a different person to the one I was at the beginning of 2016 and now I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I will be going back to Slimming World after not being able to make recent group meetings as well as trying to breathe life into this blog. It’s been a bit neglected recently.  This I would love to change.

Every New Year’s Day in the past we have usually eaten a big lunch at home and then gone out for a walk afterwards.  I tend to bake a pie and serve it with lots of vegetables and gravy.  This year things were different.  My son had been out at a party and got back in the afternoon from his friends’ house.  My daughter was working from lunchtime until the evening.  Our family New Years’ Day lunch ended up being a quiet tea time instead.

I chose to bake a Steak and Mushroom Pie this time as I had some braising steak in the freezer.  It was a cinch to make as I made a cheat’s shortcut. Not with the shortcrust pastry- that was homemade but with the pie filling.  I love Gordon Rhodes’ Gourmet Sauce Mixes and buy them regularly from my local farm shop.  I used their Slow Comfortable Stew mix with braising steak, a large onion, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a little water. Cooked for about 6 hours on a low heat in my slow cooker, it made the beef melt in the mouth and taste deliciously tender. I can’t bear tough beef. The sauce mix also suggests adding in chopped potato and carrot but I didn’t do this seeing as I wanted to serve these with the pie. Instead, nearer the end of the cooking time I put 250g of halved mushrooms into the slow cooker to soften for the last half hour.

The shortcrust pastry was made with 175g cold butter cut into cubes, 350g of plain flout and ice cold water to mix.  There was plenty of pastry dough left over so I gathered it into a ball, wrapped it in cling film and put it in the freezer for another time.  I bet I’ll forget about it, go to the freezer in a few week’s time and think “What the hell is this?”

As it was New Year’s Day I found my large number cookie cutters and cut out 2017 to stick on the top.  Mr SmartCookieSam said it looked too nice to cut up.

Not a scrap left of the pie. I’m beginning to feel like who ate all the pies here after all I’ve eaten.  But I won’t give up baking, I’ll just have to keep myself away from it!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Man Quiche from Holly Bell’s Recipes From A Normal Mum.

About a month ago I was really excited when Holly Bell’s new book “Recipes From A Normal Mum” came out.  Series 2 Great British Bake Off Finalist Holly has been a great favourite of mine and I love following her page on Facebook, reading her Recipes From A Normal Mum blog and her Twitter feed seeing what recipes she creates for her young family.   I like her recipes very much because not only are they imaginative, they use easy to find ingredients that can be bought locally and not just in an expensive or exclusive shop. I also get bored cooking the same things week in week out- not Spag bol or Shepherd’s Pie again?

So when my copy of Recipes From A Normal Mum popped through the door on the last day of term I couldn’t wait to open the package and look through the book.  I wasn’t disappointed.  There were loads of recipes I could tempt not just my family with.

One recipe which caught my eye was the “Man Quiche”.  I love the humorous titles Holly gives her recipes and wondered what it was to make it into a Man Quiche.  She explains in the recipe introduction: “Imagine my surprise when after bagging my old fashioned husband he revealed a penchant for quiche.  My Dad had always held firm that real men don’t eat quiche.  It turns out that very rarely dads can be wrong.”  Well Holly my husband is old fashioned, too and prefers meat and two veg type meals to pasta, etc. but he loves quiche.  I knew he would enjoy this one as he loves leeks and mushrooms so in this case it definitely was a “Man Quiche”  What a shame the other man (or almost man as he’s 14 years old!) in our household turned his nose up at the quiche and said he wasn’t eating it.  Nothing new there, then!

So, one Sunday afternoon when I was busy trying to meet myself going backwards I started off making some parmesan cheese flavoured shortcrust pastry.  I’m ok at making shortcrust now and I allowed time for it to chill in the fridge.

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Weighing out the cubes of cold butter needed to make the parmesan shortcrust pastry.
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The shortcrust pastry dough made in the traditional method before being wrapped in cling film and being chilled in the fridge.
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The pastry rolled out and in the 23cm round tart tin. I pricked the base a few times with a fork then put it in the oven to blind bake with my ceramic baking beans inside.

So far so good!  I was feeling quietly smug and confident thinking, this is going to be a winner here!

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While the case was blind baking I made the filling, here are the leeks and mushrooms frying on the hob.

I was really upset by what happened next!  I was trying to do too many things at once along with trying to rush.  It was getting late and I wanted the quiche ready for when my hubby came home from the race meeting he was at.  I didn’t know what he would have eaten all day.  I’d had a bit of an issue with the Blackberry and Elderflower cake I was baking (more about that here) so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind.  Then to top it all I get the pastry case out of the oven to check on how its going on as it’s blind baking and the next thing the whole bloody quiche case, tin, parchment paper and baking beans all fall out of my hand onto the floor.  The tin dropped onto my toes, but I moved out of the way so quickly I was lucky I didn’t get burnt!  I ran to the cupboard and got my Nordicware cake lifter out and scooped up the case and the tin as best as I could.  Half the case had broken but there was enough to put a little on the bottom but not on the sides!  While I was faffing around with the pastry I found my dog had rushed into the kitchen and had started to lick the baking beans still on the floor!  So I had to get chase him out, scoop up the beans which were still hot from the oven (hadn’t worried the dog though!) and chuck them away.  I was so upset and was crying from frustration.  There wasn’t much food left in the house as we were off on holiday a few days later and I didn’t want to buy too much in for it to go to waste!

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Thankfully all’s well that ends well.  The quiche looked very untidy but I managed to create the filling happily by adding eggs, cheese, double cream and some thyme together and mixing it in with the leeks and mushrooms.  These baked well in the tin on top of the rustic looking pastry.

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The finished Man Quiche.

In the end my hubby rang and said he would be getting his dinner after the race had finished as they were doing the results so I didn’t need to worry about dinner for him.  Both my children turned their noses up at the quiche. My son wouldn’t eat it at all and I forgot my daughter doesn’t like mushrooms! So only I had a slice of it with some salad for my dinner!

The following day I was out for dinner with friends and my hubby was at home with my kids and my daughter’s boyfriend. Apparently hubby had a huge slice of leftover quiche after their dinner and hubby said to my daughter’s boyfriend “It looks horrible but it actually tastes quite nice!” Praise indeed from a man who never gives praise and is more critical than Paul Hollywood, Gordon Ramsey and Simon Cowell rolled into one!  The quiche ended up being lunch for my daughter’s boyfriend the next day as well!

I will definitely bake the Man Quiche again and Holly says “you can add a handful of fried lardons or chopped bacon” which to me sounds like a great idea!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Cooking The Books March 2014- Onion and Cheese Tart from A Passion For Baking.

It’s nearly the end of the month and I’m three recipes away from completing this month’s Cooking The Books challenge from A Passion For Baking.  I needed to bake a recipe from the Pastry chapter as well as one from the Desserts and the Celebration Cakes chapters before Monday 31st March. With only two days to go I’d not been very organised this month.

For the Pastry chapter recipe I had chosen the Onion and Port Salut Tart.  When deciding on a recipe to bake it has to be one my family will eat and one that will fit in around what we’re doing and if I have time to make it in the first place!  I originally wanted to make it on Saturday this week but I never got round to it.  In the end I ended up in York eating in Wagamama with my hubby and son!  In the end the tart became my Mother’s Day lunch!

So, late this morning after I’d realised the time due to the clocks going forward, I thought I’d better get my skates on and produce something for lunch.  Only I realised I’d planned to make Eton Mess with meringues so Sunday lunch became a very late lunch/ early tea! When I first saw this recipe I knew that an onion and cheese tart would be fine with my family, only I couldn’t find Port Salut in my local Sainsburys the other day.  I wasn’t even sure what sort of cheese Port Salut was, doesn’t that sound stupid?  It sounded like a French cheese to me but I wasn’t sure what I could use as a substitute.  In the end I bought a piece of Emmenthal cheese as I have used it before in a quiche and it worked really well.

So here is how I made this delectable tart:

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I sliced up four medium onions ready to caramelise.
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As the onions were frying, I made up a batch of shortcrust pastry. It was wrapped in cling film and chilled for about half an hour while I finished cooking the onions.
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The pastry was rolled out, trimmed and the base pricked with a fork. It was then put in the freezer to chill for another 20 minutes.
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Out came my baking beans and the pastry case was baked blind for about 20 minutes.

At this stage I was meant to take the beans out of the pastry case and give it another five minutes or so in the oven baking blind.  Only, I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough as I was trying to sort out some laundry in the meantime. I know I can multitask but not today, I hoped and prayed my tart wouldn’t have a soggy bottom. Snigger, snigger!

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The caramelised onions were spread on the bottom of the tart.
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Then, to the filling! I mixed double cream, milk, eggs, salt, pepper and some tarragon together. It was meant to be thyme as the herb flavouring but I couldn’t find any in the cupboard!
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I grated the piece of Emmenthal and mixed some in to the mixture, the rest was sprinkled on the top of the filling.
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After about 30 minutes at 180oC this is what the tart looked like. I couldn’t wait for lunch as I was starving. It smelled gorgeous.
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The case round the outside looked thin and crispy but sadly it did have a little bit of the old soggy bottom. I think I should have baked it blind for a bit longer.
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A slice of the tart.

I have to say this is one of the nicest recipes I’ve worked with. Nothing faffy or over complicated and it went down well with my family. We sat down to eat it finally at 5pm once my daughter had finished work.  It was delicious with a jacket potato and veg though I think it would be lovely with new potatoes and salad too.  We ate half the tart, there’s plenty left over for tomorrow night. Well that saves me cooking again, I suppose!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx