Party Tarts

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This is more of recipe for the best pastry ever, rather than for the actual tarts. I always tend to use the same type of filling for my tarts- well, at least the basic premise is the same, and I adjust fillings and flavours according to what I have to hand. I’m posting the recipe for the pastry here, and then have followed it with the filling idea: it is a fool proof concept, and I urge you to try your hand at it, and experiment with different combinations. As long as you remember the egg yolk, microplaned parmesan and creme fraiche, your filling should hold well and bake even better.

I made these for my dear friend Helen’s birthday on Saturday- Helen and I look rather similar, and are often mistaken for each other in town, or in fact wherever we go. We’ve only known each other for about four years, and were introduced by a mutual friend, who kept saying, “You’d get on SO well together”. And of course, we do. It helps that we both are English teachers, share a love of rummaging in thrift shops, and have the same sense of humour, among other things. We never co-ordinate our outfits, but often we’ll land up dressing in a similar fashion too: specs on, specs off, monochrome or dresses; somehow our attire and appearance is a source of total amusement for everyone, but, as we laugh at ourselves rather frequently anyway, we are more than happy to make people smile and provide entertainment. Meeting Helen’s parents was interesting- I think I freaked her family out somewhat! I love how there is a twin to be found out there in the world- for all of us, I’m sure. I feel very lucky to have found mine so early on in life.

Here’s that gorgeous pastry recipe, followed by my filling suggestion.

Gluten Free Shortcrust Pastry

Makes 24 mini tarts (pictured) or 12 larger ones

Ingredients:

200g plain gluten free flour

1 1/2 tsp table salt

110g cold salted butter, cubed

1 egg yolk

Cold water to bring the mix together.

Cornflour to roll it out with (this is essential)

Method:

Place the flour, salt and butter into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. this is a crucial part: it will take a while, but you must, must do it. There mustn’t be any butter lumps remaining. Once you’ve done this, add the egg yolk, and a few splashes of water, mixing thoroughly as you go. I use my hands, of course I do: they’re the best tools for the job. Keep adding water until you have a soft, pliable ball of dough- it mustn’t be crumbly at all. You may need to add more water than you initially think to the mix.

Dust your work surface with cornflour and roll the dough out: unlike gluten based doughs, this one doesn’t need to rest in the fridge before use. I use scone and biscuit cutters, and I cut little rounds of pastry. I carefully line my tins with the discs, ensuring that if the bottom of the little tarts look to thin, I patch the bottoms up with extra little bits of pastry: you don’t want the filling to leak out, so ensure the tins are well padded with pastry.

Pop a little circle of baking parchment in each pastry tin, and top with baking beads (like in the picture).

Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the parchment and beads. Spoon your filling into each receptacle, top with grated cheese, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Filling:

I base every filling for these little tarts on the same sort of idea: I saute shallots or onions and garlic in a little butter and olive oil for 7 minutes or so. I then add chopped chorizo, or prosciutto, add finely chopped mushrooms, or peas to the pan, add microplaned parmesan, an egg yolk, a few tablespoons of creme fraiche, salt and black pepper and chopped herbs (basil and parsley, usually). I remove the mix from the heat and spoon it carefully into the cases, topping with extra cheese (cheddar, little lumps of goat’s cheese, or parmesan).  I am sure the idea would work were you to use the pastry idea to make a large tart for lunch, or some other occasion. The little tarts keep very well, and can be heated up just before serving.

 

Asparagus & Salmon Quiche with a Cheddar Crust

The Plain Kitchen Salmon asparagus quiche

I have already posted a recipe for quiche- a chorizo and feta one, which aired on BBC Wiltshire as part of their Taste of Wiltshire feature a few months ago. This one uses the same crust- which works so well- and has a far lighter, fresher Summer flavour to it.

Please don’t be fooled into buying processed ready to eat pastry or pizza bases: a savoury gluten free pastry such as this one is so very easy to make. Remember though to use a proper quiche tin for this: unlike a tart tin, quiche tins are deeper, so that they can hold the filling well. I use a 15 cm quiche tin, which serves 4. Of course, if you are using a large quiche tin, one that serves 8, simply double the recipe. Of course, the triple baking is necessary: first, baking the pastry blind, then removing the parchment layer and beans and giving it another quick burst in the oven to crisp up the base, and finally, a bake with the filling. It sounds like it is difficult and may take a while: it really doesn’t.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius

Ingredients:

For the crust:

60g rice flour (I use Dove’s)

60g Plain gluten free flour (I use Dove’s)

85g butter, chilled, cut into cubes

45g cheddar cheese grated

½ tsp table salt

Good grinding black pepper

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

125g cooked salmon (I steam mine in a little tin foil parcel in the oven- or you can poach yours, steam it on the stove top: whatever is easiest)

About 10 asparagus spears, tailed, and then chopped into 2cm long pieces

2 eggs

200ml double cream

Pinch salt

Good grinding black pepper

Small handful fresh dill, finely chopped

Extra fresh dill, to serve

Method:

To make the crust, simply rub the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients as you would for scones: it may take a little while, but it’s worth it. Add the water once you have mixed the butter and cheese in well, and bring together in a bowl using your hands to make a dough. Line your quiche tin with the dough- I break the dough up into pieces, dot it about the tin, and then I press it all together. Unlike gluten based doughs, if you roll this dough out, it tends to break up. Also, unlike gluten based doughs, not a lot of shrinkage occurs, so you don’t need to make the dough overlap your edges at all- push it in snugly, and flatten it well- and will keep its shape when baked. Once the tin is lined well with the dough, and you have pressed it in well, place a paper disc at the bottom of the dough and line with baking beans or rice- whatever you generally use.

Bake with the beans for 20 minutes in a preheated oven, then remove the parchment and beans, and bake uncovered for a further 8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool while you make the filling.

Mix the eggs, seasoning, dill and cream in a jug- beat lightly with a fork.

Flake the cooked salmon into a bowl, add the chopped asparagus and the egg mixture. Set aside.

Once the pastry base is ready after its second baking, pour the mixture into the tin, and bake again for 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top.

Remember, it is essential to allow the quiche to rest before serving: the custard will set further and create an easy to slice quiche. Sprinkle with fresh dill, and you’re ready to go.

 

Chorizo & Feta Quiche

The Plain Kitchen gluten free quiche

Oh, this is an utter delight: and so easy to make. It does tend to get that wonderful reaction: “Is it really gluten free?” This, often said in disbelief makes me so happy because it is proof that making gluten free meals, and in this instance, pastry, can actually work out. Please don’t be fooled into buying processed ready to eat pastry, or pizza bases: a savoury pastry such as this one is so very easy to make. Remember though to use a proper quiche tin for this: unlike a tart tin, quiche tins are deeper, so that they can hold the filling well. I use a 15 cm quiche tin, which serves 4. Of course, if you are using a large quiche tin, one that serves 8, simply double the recipe.

Make well ahead of time, and simply gently reheat when you are ready to eat. I’m not a fan of cold quiche, it has to be said.

Thanks to BBC Wiltshire and Sue Davies for having me on this morning to chat about The Plain Kitchen, and this particular recipe. If you fancy a listen the links here, and I’m about 1:14 in, I think!

Here it is:

BBC Wiltshire The Plain Kitchen

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Ingredients:

For the crust:

60g rice flour (I use Dove’s)

60g Plain gluten free flour (I use Dove’s)

85g butter, chilled, cut into cubes

45g cheddar cheese grated

½ tsp table salt

Good grinding black pepper

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 tbsp cold water

For the filling:

90g feta cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp olive oil

½ large courgette, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Small handful chopped fresh parsley

Small handful chopped fresh basil

10cm piece of chorizo, chopped

Zest of ½ a lemon

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 eggs

200ml double cream

Pinch Maldon salt

Good grinding black pepper

Method:

To make the crust, simply rub the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients as you would for scones: it may take a little while, but it’s worth it. Add the water once you have mixed the butter and cheese in well, and bring together in a bowl using your hands to make a dough. Line your quiche tin with the dough- I break the dough up into pieces, dot it about the tin, and then I press it all together. Unlike gluten based doughs, if you roll this dough out, it tends to break up. Also, unlike gluten based doughs, not a lot of shrinkage occurs, so you don’t need to make the dough overlap your edges at all- push it in snugly, and flatten it well- and will keep its shape when baked. Once the tin is lined well with the dough, and you have pressed it in well, place a paper disc at the bottom of the dough and line with baking beans or rice- whatever you generally use.

Bake with the beans for 20 minutes in a preheated oven, then remove the parchment and beans, and bake uncovered for a further 8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool while you make the filling.

Fry the red onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes: add the chopped chorizo, and fry for a further 5 minutes on a medium heat. Remove and allow to cool slightly. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and add the cream and seasoning, and beat well again. Pour the fried onions and chorizo into the quiche shell, add the feta, herbs and spring onion, and then top up with the eggy cream custard. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

Allow to rest before serving: this is crucial, as it allows the quiche to “set” properly before cutting into it. Serve at room temperature, or warm up slightly before eating.