Posts Tagged: tart

Sep 09

Simple pleasures


Some of my favourite cooking moments involve using very few ingredients to create something delicious. A handful of this or a splash of that – pure flavours, dealt with simply and easily. Fuss free suppers are the way forward.

There are days when I do happily spend several hours preparing a meal – a labour of love – but often I’ll won’t have a lot of advance warning to whip something up when people arrive. This is a perfect meal for those times – an easy-as-pie dinner using just four ingredients.

Caramelised onion and anchovy tart


  • 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
  • 100g Grana Padano cheese or parmesan, grated
  • 1 tin of anchovies or half a jar
  • 3 onions


Finely slice the onions and cook them in a pan with a splash of oil on a very, very low heat for around an hour until they are a deep golden colour.

Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.

Score a line around the edge of the pastry about one centimetre in. Spread the onions over the centre of the tart evenly, then scatter the cheese over and place the anchovies on top.

Put the tart into the pre-heated oven and cook for around 15-20 mins until puffed up and golden.

Serve with a green or tomato salad.

Mar 09

Getting seduced by an early taste of sunshine food


What on earth is going on outside at the moment? One day it’s lunch in the garden, the next it’s stew by the fire!


Although I’m sure the weather’s set to change again, I’ve started to get in the mood for summer, picking up fresh, light stuff to brighten the kitchen, like shiny red peppers and purple aubergines. And I’m already putting together cold platters of salty cheese, Spanish ham and griddled vegetables dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


This is simple, pleasure food you can throw together quickly and savour slowly on a balmy summer’s evening – those rare ones we seem to get. But then I guess that’s all part of being British – the picnic eaten under a tree in the rain, barbecues cooked beneath an umbrella.


When it’s good, though, it’s great. Those evenings when the sun takes forever to disappear over the horizon and the smell of charcoal drifts on the still-warm air as the muted sounds of the neighbours enjoying their own al fresco experience float over the fence.


Such great times… So sod the cold, cook some summer food right now, even if you have to eat it indoors!


Artichoke, fontina and parma ham turn-over

Ingredients (Serves 4)


  • 100g fontina or other melting cheese like taleggio
  • 5 or 6 slices of Parma ham
  • a tin of artichokes hearts or a packet of griddled ones
  • 1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
  • a few thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten


Pre-heat oven to 225°C. Lay pastry out on an oiled baking sheet. Drain artichokes and slice into quarters. Drape Parma ham over half the pastry, leaving a border of about a centimetre.


Scatter over artichokes and then slice cheese and spread it out over the top.


Scatter over thyme leaves, season with pepper only and then fold pastry over to form a parcel. It will probably be a bit lopsided. Brush the whole thing with beaten egg and bake in the oven for ten minutes or so until golden.


A green salad dressed with a punchy vinaigrette would make a great addition.

Mar 09

A celebration of the pie


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In case you are still sadly unaware, this week is British pie week ( – celebration of the humble delight which runs from March 2-8.


A pie in my mind is quintessentially British. First referenced in literary works of 800 years ago, they remain a key element of the UK’s culinary tradition.


While originally designed to protect the contents, these days pastry has become an art form in itself. A flaky layer of puff pastry covering a creamy chicken pie studded with gleaming peas is a thing of beauty. While a well-made shortcrust over a filling of slowly braised beef, carrots and mushrooms can be equally divine.


My first thought at mention of a pie is a savoury one, but I love tart, sharp-tasting fruits like bramley apples, coxes, plums, damsons and rhubarb. And a pie without a lid is a tart. But is a tart a pie?


I’d like to think so, otherwise we’d be missing out on a glorious range of culinary ideas. A good apple pie should be sharp, coupled with a crisp, sweet pastry and a good spoonful of silky clotted cream. The only way to improve on such a thing might be the addition of a few blackberries. Then, bursting at the seams, it should be eaten while your fingers are still stained purple from picking them.

The pinnacle of pie-making, though, is a much more regal thing – the pork pie.


A hot-water pastry crust encases a dense, meaty, fat-speckled filling surrounded by a layer of unctuous jelly. The jelly is the divider. Some can’t stand its texture, others adore the wobbly, gelatinous layer.


Historically, the pie was invented as a means of transporting meat for men on the hunt; the crust designed to withstand a bashing around while kept in the pocket. Fact or fable, who knows! Who cares, when they taste as good as they do?

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