Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Asparagus and Cheese Tart

I’m not someone who slavishly buys and eats ‘locally’ and ‘seasonally’; if something is in the shops, and I like the look of it, I really don’t care if it’s been flown from Timbuktu or from the Moon, quite frankly.

There are a few things though, that are so much better when they’re grown in season in the UK: strawberries and asparagus spring immediately to mind, closely followed by Victoria plums. I’ll have to wait a while yet for the strawbs and plums, but I found the first of this year’s English asparagus available at the end of last week. Yum.

The timing was brilliant because we had DS, DDIL and Gorgeous Granddaughter coming for lunch on Sunday, so I made this Asparagus and Cheese Tart served with new potatoes and a mixed salad; I have to say it went down very well. It must have done - we ate the entire thing!

I used a 14” x 5” rectangular tin (which I bought years ago in a fit of baking enthusiasm, but had only used once!) but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use an 8” round tart tin – the amounts would be roughly the same, give or take.

I'd planned to use soft goat's cheese in this recipe but I couldn’t lay my hands on a vegetarian one for love nor money; yes, I know, you wouldn’t think it’d be too difficult but there you go… however, if you’re luckier than me I think goat’s cheese would work really well. I used a mature cheddar but any well-flavoured cheese would be fine.

Apologies for the slightly iffy pic…it was the result of a lethal combination of a new camera and being in a hurry.

500g block of ready-made shortcrust pastry
300g asparagus, trimmed
100g mature cheddar (or goat’s cheese)
3 eggs, beaten
250ml milk
a few grinds of black pepper
1 tbsp snipped chives

Turn the oven on to 180C.

Roll out the pastry to fit your tin, line the pastry case with baking parchment weighed down with baking beans or uncooked rice and bake for 15 minutes.

Take off the paper and beans then brush the surface of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes.

Mix the remaining egg with the milk and a few grinds of pepper. Lay the asparagus spears in the tin, cutting to fit if necessary; sprinkle with the grated cheese and chopped chives then strain the egg mixture carefully over the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the filling is puffy and golden.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

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