Tag Archives: Pastry

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

I feel I should start this post by way of an apology. It’s an awful photo. I know. It shall be replaced next time I make this pie, and being such a tasty pie as it is this won’t be long. But as time is most definitely in short supply right now I’m going with the shameful shot in order to make another entry to this month’s Four Seasons Food challenge.

I’d also like to take to take the opportunity to offer huge and well deserved congratulations to my friend and partner in foodie crime for the Four Seasons Food challenge, Anneli! If you haven’t already heard she won the glittering Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging Food award on Friday night for her gorgeous and inspiring Delicieux blog. I believe she’s still getting over the hangover and on her way back to rural SW France as I write. Well done Anneli, so can’t wait to help you celebrate!

So on to the Pie. I’ve been intending to bake this pie for a long long time, and despite the sad photos it was stunningly tasty. And took me right back to many a happy Greek joliday of yonder year. Though also made me a little sad, sad in the sense it was made with shop bought spinach and not Chez Foti spinach which until recently has been growing in huge abundance. As my garden winds up there’s very little greenery out there any more, bar a barrage of weeds and lots of (overgrown) herbs. In case you didn’t know I’m moving back to the UK this summer, back with the littlies to be nearer my family in gorgeous and foodie Herefordshire. Which funnily enough is very similar and gentle countryside to where I live now, minus the Pyrenees obviously!. And one day very soon I’ll be very excited to start another veggie plot on English soil. But more on my new venture in another blog soon.

Anyway, I digress again. Back to the pie, which was a real doddle to make. And makes for a wonderful cold or warm picnic, lunch or dinner munch. Don’t be put off by the filo, it’s so easy to use and very forgiving in any shape or form!. The pie’s assembled in a flash, simply a matter of sweating a little onion and garlic, followed by a seemingly monstrous amount of fresh spinach. A stirring in of lightly beaten eggs flavoured with nutmeg and a little Dijon mustard, pine kernels, parsley and feta. Then spooning into a filo pastry shell, topped with more filo and baked for a mere 30 minutes.

fsf-summerNaturally I shall be entering my picnic-perfect pie to the Four Cooking-with-HerbsSeasons Food challenge, a new monthly event hosted by myself and (award winning!) Anneli at Delicieux. This month Anneli’s hosting and the theme’s aptly Picnics and Outdoor Nibbles. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday event,Simple and in Season Ren Behans Simple and in Season and Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays.Made with Love Mondays

Spinach & Feta Pie Recipe

Spinach & Feta Filo Pie: Spanakopita

Great For: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers (if they’re not green adverse!), Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Week-end Slowies, Picnics, Nibbles, Mains, Lunches, Dinners, Dinner Parties, Parties, Spinach Growers (sob, sob)

Notes: Substitute fresh spinach for the same weight in frozen spinach which has defrosted (no need to wilt)

Serves: 4-6 large slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, medium sized, medium dice

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

500g fresh spinach, washed & dried and roughly shredded

2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley

200g Feta cheese, crumbled

50g pine kernels

3 free range eggs

½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard

pepper

4 large or 8 small sheets filo pastry

40ml olive oil

Special Equipment: a small ovenproof baking tray, pie dish or tart tin (roughly 20 x 20), round square or oblong! A pastry brush.

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan on a low to medium heat. Gently fry the onion for 5 minutes, before adding the garlic for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly so nothing catches.

3. With the pan still on the heat stir in the spinach, in batches, until it’s all wilted. It helps to have a saucepan lid. Once wilted take off the heat and set aside.

4. Stir into the spinach the parsley, Feta and pine kernels. Lightly whisk together the eggs with the nutmeg and Dijon mustard. Stir the eggs into the spinach along with a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Ensure everything’s very well combined.

5. Grease your chosen dish or tin liberally with olive oil. Line it with a small sheet of filo pastry or half a large sheet (letting the other half of a larger sheet hang over one side – it will form the top once the filling’s been added). Brush the sheet with olive oil before adding another layer. Continue until you have 4 base layers of filo.

6. Spoon in the spinach mix and evenly spread. Layer 4 small sheets of filo pastry on the top, brushing on oil between each and tucking the edges into the sides to seal the pie. I like to scrunch them up for effect. If using the larger sheets turn them over and scrunch them onto to the top of the pie and tuck into the sides. It might look messy but filo pies are very forgiving!.

7. Brush the top with olive oil if you haven’t already done so. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until set, golden and crispy. Turn out of the dish, if you dare, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Lovely warm or cold.

You might also like:

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni with Hidden Veggies Tommie Sauce

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An Asparagus and Gruyère Tart

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While the weather here is grim, and I mean really GRIM, this tart is as close to a ray of sunshine as we’ll be getting for a good bit longer!. I’m talking incessant rain, gales and highs of a heady 10 degrees. And it’s the end of May! Needless to say the fires are still being lit and nightly hot water bottles filled. Quite ridiculous, but that’s enough moaning about the weather…..

One good thing though is the delightful occurrence of asparagus season, the weather may not feel like but the shops are brimming with glorious, magical spears. And round here of both the white and green varieties, though I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of the grown-in-the-dark former. It’s definitely the goodly green stuff that gets me going. And the blogosphere is full of it too, I can barely turn on my computer without there being an image of yet another fabulous asparagus (or rhubarb) recipe! And unlike the weather, I’m so not complaining about that.

Asparagus & Gruyere Tart

So here’s my first Asparagus recipe of the year (yep, there’s more to come!). A simple Asparagus Tart made with an ever so easy homemade shortcrust pastry, a large bunch of lightly steamed asparagus floating in a creme fraiche, Gruyère, Dijon mustard and eggy deliciousness topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Oh it’s good. A little naughty admittedly, but hey what’s the odd tart here and there between friends.

Simple and in SeasonOne-Ingredient-AsparagusNow for the bloggie challenges. Since Asparagus is so in season I’m entering my blog to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. And to How to Cook Good Food and Franglais Kitchen‘s One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Laura this month and so happening to be glorious Asparagus, yeah! And as it’s a totally made-from-scratch tart to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays event.Made with Love Mondays

IMG_4806

Asparagus & Gruyère Tart

Great for toddlers & little people, bigger kids, family dinners, grown ups, parties, lunch or dinners, vegetarians, picnics

Enough for 4 – 6

For the Pastry:

130g of Plain Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

65g of Butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small blocks, plus a little extra for greasing

pinch of Salt & Pepper

an egg yolk and a little cold water

For the Tart Filling:

a 450g bunch of Asparagus, washed

3 free range Eggs

200ml of half fat Creme Fraiche

a heaped teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

100g of Gruyère, grated

Salt & Pepper

a tablespoon of finely grated fresh Parmesan

Special Equipment: a 19 to 25cm width quiche/tart case

Start by making your pastry. Easiest and quickest in a food processor, but can be made by hand too. If using a processor blitz the flour, salt, pepper and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and blitz again. With the machine still on add a little very cold water and continue to add until the mixture starts to come together in one piece. Remove from the processor, shape together, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

Alternatively, if you’re making by hand place the flour, salt, pepper and butter in a large bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and a little very cold water with your hands. Continue to add water until the mixture comes together in one piece. Shape together, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Snap off the tougher ends of the asparagus and throw away, slice the remaining ends into 1 to 2cm slices, retaining spheres approximately half the width of your tart or quiche case. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Immerse in cold water, drain and set aside.

Lightly beat the eggs then stir in the creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, grated Gruyère, and pinches of salt black pepper. Set aside.

Lightly grease your chosen flan case with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll out on a floured surface into a round slightly bigger than your case. Transfer to the case. Hang any excess of pastry over the sides. Prick the base all over with a fork. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans to weight down the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes in the hot oven, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes. While still hot trim the pastry around the top of the tart case to make a neat edge.

Place the small slices of asparagus in the bottom of the tart case. Pile on the creme fraiche filling. Now carefully arrange the asparagus spheres in a pretty ‘sunshine’ design on the top. Sprinkle over the Parmesan.

Slide in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until firm to touch and golden brown on top. Serve warm with a large leafy salad. Maybe some buttered new potatoes too.

You might also like:

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart

PSB, Anchovy & Parmesan Tart


Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything in the sweet or pud line, but then it’s pretty rare I make anything outside of a good old crumble, bread and butter pudding or a cake. But today, armed with some handsome pickings of homegrown Rhubarb, I tasked myself with being a little more inventive and put together this cheeky wee tart. A simple (bought!) puff pastry base, smeared with a fine layer of gingered & slightly sweetened creme fraiche and topped with roasted rhubarb it really is simplicity in itself. And was pretty heavenly served with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. It’s quite a ‘tart’ tart but then that’s how I personally like my fruit. Feel free to be more generous with the sugar than myself.

Rhubarb

On a sweeter note, it was my wee fella’s Big Third Birthday last week. The requested blinged-up (he LOVES his silver balls!) Choccie Cake was successfully made and (messily) consumed.

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Happy Big Third Birthday to Baba Jacques!

Jacques

Since rhubarb is very much in season I shall of course be entering my tart to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event.

Simple and in Season

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart:

Serves 6:

6 – 8 Rhubarb Stalks

2 dessertspoons of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

3 heaped tablespoons of Creme Fraiche (half or full fat)

½ teaspoon of Ground Ginger

250g of ready made Puff Pastry

a little Plain Flour for rolling

a medium Free Range Egg, lightly beaten

a teaspoon of Icing Sugar, plus a little more for serving if you wish

Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

Start with roasting off the rhubarb. Wash and cut the stems into roughly even lengths – anywhere between 5 and 10 cm. Place on a baking tray and scatter over a dessertspoon of the dark soft brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of water. Place in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Leave the oven on for the tart.

Meanwhile mix the creme fraiche with the remaining dessertspoon of soft brown sugar, the ginger and any juices from the rhubarb tray.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll it out a little larger than you intend the tart to be, so you can cut off some side strips. It should be big enough to house your rhubarb fairly closely. Cut 0.5 to 1 cm off each side and glue on to the sides with a brushing of beaten egg. The total size of my tart was about 15 by 30 cm which is probably what you’re aiming at. Brush the side strips with the egg.

Spread a fine layer of the creme fraiche mixture over the base of the tart. There should be plenty left to serve with the cooked tart. Lay the rhubarb strips. Sprinkle (through a sieve) over a teaspoon of the icing sugar. Place in the still hot oven for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, cooked and risen.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving with a generous dollop of the flavoured creme fraiche. Dust with a little extra icing sugar if you wish.

A slice of Rhubarb Tart

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Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Courgette Cake with Homemade Lemon Curd

Clementine & Almond Cake

Clementine & Almond Cake


Anchovy, Parmesan and PSB Tart

PSB Tart

Finally the Purple Sprouting Broccoli has come good. After a year’s impatient, and doubtful, waiting all five of my plants are yielding a glutinous harvest. And what a wonderful veg to glut out on, one of the very finest in my opinion and interestingly one that the French don’t seem to do. Well at least I’ve never seen it for sale here. They really don’t know what they’re missing.

PSB

PSB

So it’s been a bit of PSB frenzy around here the last couple of weeks and one of my favourite recipes has to be this very Tart. A rich peppered shortcrust pastry (or you could cheat and buy ready-made), filled with as much PSB as you can possibly fit, bathed in a layer of eggy, creme fraiche & Parmesan loveliness and topped with preserved anchovies. Probably not a tart for the littlies in your life as it’s heavy on salty anchovies, which incidentally are a match made in foodie heaven with PSB. Though you could always omit them and still make a very tasty tart indeed, or pick them off as my kids happily did (and I charitably gobbled down on their behalves).

I know homemade pastry is considered a bit of a faff by most people but it’s surprisingly easy and generally faultless to make yourself. To cut down on faff time you can make in large batches and line and ‘bake blind’ a number of tart cases all at once, and freeze the excess for a later and convenient quickie dinner. Then the prep of the filling and baking is genuinely a doddle.

Simple and in SeasonSince PSB is so in season right now I’m entering my recipe to Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season event, which I was delighted to host myself in March and this month is being held by Ren herself. Not being a very regular baker it’s rare that I get a chance to enter the wonderful baking events out in the blogosphere, but this month I AlphaBakes Logohappened to notice that AlphaBakes (jointed hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and this month by Ros from One-Ingredient-April-Cheese-300x247More than an Occasional Baker) is on the Letter A (for Anchovy). So I’m delighted to be making my first ever entry! And last but most certainly not least as Cheese is the theme I shall be entering my tart to this month’s One Ingredient Challenge, an event hosted by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen

Please don't be fooled that we're eating out and basking in sunshine here. This was taken in a few minutes of warm sun we had last week - and it's rained ever since!

Please don’t be fooled we’re eating out and basking in glorious sunshine here. This was taken in the very few warm minutes of sun we had last week – and it’s rained ever since

PSB Tart

Enough for 4:

For the Pastry: (double, treble, quadruple if you want to stock up on savory tart cases)

130g of Plain Flour, plus a little extra for rolling

35g of Butter, straight from the fridge, cut into small blocks. Plus a little extra for greasing the case

30g of hard Vegetable Fat, straight from the fridge, cut unto small blocks

a level teaspoon of coarsely ground Black Pepper

a pinch of Salt

an Egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling: 

200 to 250g of Purple Sprouting Broccoli (essentially as much as you can squeeze in the tart base), washed

3 medium free range Eggs

200ml of half fat Creme Fraiche (a small tub)

2 heaped tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan

a large pinch of Black Pepper

6 Anchovy fillets, preserved in oil or salt

Special Equipment: a 19 to 25cm width quiche/tart case

Start by making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients in the bowl, except for the egg yolk, and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and whiz again. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, if it doesn’t add a few drops of cold water until it does. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients, bar the egg yolk, in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. Add a few drops of cold water if the dough fails to come together. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Slice the tougher ends of the broccoli into roughly inch long strips, leaving a generous couple of inches for the delicate purple florets. Steam over boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes until almost tender. Set aside.

Lightly beat the eggs then beat in the creme fraiche, Parmesan and black pepper. Set aside.

Lightly grease your chosen flan case with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll out on a floured surface into a round that will fit your case. Transfer to the case. Cut off any excess pastry; there should be just enough pastry to overlap the sides by a few mms (the pastry will shrink a little when cooked). Prick the base all over with a fork. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans to weight down the pastry. Bake for 20 minutes in the hot oven, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Now you’re ready for tart assembly. Place as much PSB in the tart case as it will hold. Pour over the eggy mix. Finally decoratively lay the anchovy fillets over the top.  Slide in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes until firm to touch and a little golden on top.

Perfect with a leafy green salad. And new potatoes if you find them yet.

You might also like: 

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

Leek & Goats Cheese Tart

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme

Butternut, Feta & Red Onion Tart with Thyme


A Winter Roasted Roots and Gruyere Pie!

Roasted Roots Pie

It’s still mightily cold isn’t it? I’m in the midst of the never-ending Winter that is the UK this week, and this morning has witnessed my third siting of snow since I’ve been here. Unbelievable. Not helped by the frequent Skype sessions to the littlies in France who are clearly enjoying the first few sun-drenched ‘strawberry days’ of the year. ‘Strawberry Day’ being a Francesca-ism for a warm sunny day. Each and every day her first question upon awakening is invariably ‘is it a strawberry day mummy?’. The answer (usually to the negative) not only giving her the potential to pick a strawberry from the garden (bless her, she’s perpetually confused as to why it can be sunny yet there’s none to be found) but more importantly would allow her to put on the summer dresses and shorts that she’s been so longing to wear again since October. So much for my non-girlie girl! She may have only friends that are boys but she’s turning out to be a right little fashionista.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Seeing as it’s still full blown winter in the UK I’m bringing you my recipe for a wintery Roasted Roots Pie, and sincerely hoping this might be the last wintery food blog for quite some time! The recipe for this pie came about on a recent family get together when I tasked myself with putting on a bit of a Pie Night. The meat one was a cinch to decide, opting for my Beef, Beer and Stilton Pie that I recently wrote for Delicieux and went down stormingly well with my pie-eating family!. But I wanted to match it’s decadent richness with a special veggie option for the non-meat eaters of which there’s a few dotted around our lot. Being a bit partial to my seasonal Rosemary Roasted Roots I opted for an interesting selection of Celeriac, Butternut, Sweet Potatoes and Carrots and encased them in a rich Gruyere, Parmesan and Wholegrain mustard sauce. And topped off with the same homemade Rough Puff pastry (you could obviously cheat on this bit and use ready made Rough) as it’s meaty brother pie. I’m very pleased to report the pie was an equal hit and the perfectly interesting and substantial veggie option, that even the ardent meat eaters couldn’t resist nibbling into. In fact I’ve already made it again since. It’s a keeper. Rock on the next Pie Night I say!

Being heavy on the Rosemary (most of my food seems to be these days!) I’m entering Lavender and Lovage’s lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge again, this month hosted by London Busy Body (you’ll be sick of my emails by now!). And since it’s a made from scratch meal, to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays challenge. And last but certainly not least once again to Simple and in Season, the seasonal blogging challenge of Ren of Fabulicious Food and this month hosted by myself.

herbsonsaturday

Made with Love Mondays

Simple and In Season

Roasted Roots Pie

Roasted Roots & Gruyere Pie

Serves 6 to 8

Great for Pie Nights!, Dinner Parties, Vegetarians, Family Dinners, Special Occasions, Week-end Slowies, Winter Warmers

1.2 kilos of mixed Root Vegetables (I used a fairly even mix of Celeriac, Butternut, Carrots and Sweet Potato. You could also use Swede, Turnips, Pumpkin, Beetroot or Parsnips)

2 large Onions, large dice

6 cloves of Garlic, left whole with skin on

a heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

4 tablespoons of Olive Oil

50g of Butter

50g of Plain Flour

700ml of Whole Milk

180g of Gruyere, grated

30g of Parmesan, grated

a tablespoon of Wholegrain Mustard

Salt & Pepper

450g of Rough Puff or Shop Bought Pastry (about 2/3rd of this recipe)

an Egg, beaten

Special Equipment: 2 x large roasting tins

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Dice all your veggies, bar the carrots, to a similar 2-3cm chunk size. Cut the carrots into inch long narrow battens. Place in the roasting tins, along with the diced onions, garlic cloves, rosemary and a generous pinch or two of black pepper and salt. Drizzle over the olive oil and give everything a thorough mix with your hands. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, turning the veggies twice during the cooking time.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce. Using the roux method gently heat the butter in a medium sized saucepan until it’s melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and with the pan still over the heat slowly and gradually add the milk. You may want to switch the spoon for a balloon whisk at this point, whisking thoroughly between milky additions, until all the milk is incorporated. Continue stirring with the whisk or wooden spoon until the sauce is simmering. Stir in both the cheeses, mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Remove the whole roasted garlic from the Roasted Roots and squeeze out the loveliness contained into the sauce. Give a final thorough stirring.

Combine the sauce with the veggies and place in your pie dish.

Roasted Roots Pie

Turn down the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5.

Cover the top of the veggies in a layer of Rough Puff Pastry, crimp the edges. Brush with the beaten egg.

Roasted Roots Pie

Place in the pre-heated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked, puffed up and golden brown. Slice and eat. With lashings of buttery mash to ward off the cold.


Butternut, Feta and Red Onion Tart with Thyme

I’m loving the Butternut and Pumpkin season at Chez Foti. To be honest it’s making a welcome change from all those tomatoes of the summer, not that they’ve completely finished yet!. And it’s been lots of fun getting a little more inventive with them than the usual soups and stews. One of my biggest successes was the Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, but I’ve also been making all manner of other sweet and savoury baked goodies that I haven’t found the time to blog yet. My latest mission has been to develop an interesting Butternut Tart and I’m finally happy with the results and ready to share the recipe. A Shortcrust pastry base (homemade or shop bought), a meltingly soft layer of red onions topped with roasted butternut cubes, crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine kernels, a generous sprinkling of fresh thyme and finally a drizzle of  balsamic for a little zing. Not only is this a great family-friendly mid-week supper or lunch tart, it’s a more interesting than normal vegetarian dinner party option too.

I have to hold my hands up and admit I do use ready-made shortcrust or puff pastry occasionally, particularly to make a quickie mid-week supper. In France both pastries are readily and cheaply sold in a roll, ready rolled and ready to place directly onto a (round) baking tin or tray. How’s that for super-cheating? Even better that it can sometimes be very good quality pastry, but like most things you get what you pay for. I believe in the UK you can only buy frozen shortcrust or puff pastry that needs to be rolled out? I do obviously make my own pastry quite often too!

You could happily also use a flavoursome pumpkin for this tart, and in fact I used a mixture of pumpkin and butternut here as I was using up what I happened to have in the fridge. Though my normal warning with using pumpkin standsmake sure it’s a sweetie! Pumpkin can all too often be bland and devoid of flavour, particularly the pumpkins sold for Halloween in the UK. I’m luckily enough to have really flavoursome ones at Chez Foti, but then I’m also lucky enough to have long sunshiny summers!.

Since thyme is a crucial flavouring to my tart I’m entering my recipe to Lavender and Lovage’s October Herbs on Saturday blog challenge.

I’m also entering it to the One Ingredient Challenge for a second time this month, hopefully this is allowed?! The One Ingredient Challenge  is a monthly blog event, held jointly by Laura @ How to Cook Good Food and this month by Nazima @ Franglais Kitchen, picking out a particular ingredient each month, and this month it so happens to be Pumpkin or Squash. Perfect!

Butternut, Feta and Red Onion Tart with Thyme 

Serves 3 to 4 people, or a family of 4:

400g of Butternut squash, peeled

a tablespoon of olive oil

salt & pepper

1 very large or 2 medium red onions

35g of butter

250g of shortcrust pastry, either homemade or shop bought

25g of pine kernels

a medium free range egg, lightly beaten

130g of feta cheese, roughly crumbled

a few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

Special Equipment: A large oblong or round baking sheet or tray

Start with roasting your Butternut. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6. Dice into smallish 1 to 1.5cm cubes, toss in the olive oil and a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place on a roasting tray and roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the squash is soft and slightly browned.

Meanwhile finely slice the onions. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a low heat and saute the onions for 25 to 30 minutes until meltingly soft.

Roll out the pastry (or de-roll in my lazy case!) into a circular (roughly 30 x 30cm) or oblong (roughly 35 x 20cm) shape. Place on an appropriately sized and shaped baking sheet or tray. Lightly prick the surface all over with a fork. Bake blind in the already pre-heated oven (200ºC) for 10 minutes.

Now to toast the pine kernels. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and once hot throw in the kernels. Shake every few moments until you have been lightly toasted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the onions are cooked allow to cool for a few minutes before mixing them with the beaten egg and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.

Once the butternut has finished roasting, the onions are ready and pastry baked blind you can begin your assembly. Evenly spread the onion mix over the pastry, followed by the roasted butternut cubes then a scattering of the feta and pine kernels. Generously sprinkle on the thyme leaves and a little more black pepper. Carefully drizzle a few drops of Balsamic evenly all over.

Place back in the already heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes (200ºC). Remove when the pastry is golden at the edges. Slice and serve. Lovely with a tomato or green salad.

How about trying some of my other related recipes Butternut Squash & Chorizo Soup with Chorizo Croutons, Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese,  Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans, A Couple of Tomato Tarts, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart


Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

We’re in the midst of fig season here in France and I’m loving it. Without a doubt they’re one of my favourite fruits and as we’re relative newbies here only in our second fig season they still feel rather decedent and exotic. Sadly we’re the only people I know of without a single fig tree in the garden so I have to rely on friends and a couple of our holiday home neighbours’ trees to feed my indulgence. I really must get around to planting our own trees next spring.

Last Saturday we were happily invited to my friend Debbie’s house for a spot of fig picking and horsey riding for Francesca. Five kilos later we came home (not counting the umpteen in our tummies). I’m afraid to say I put most of them in the freezer to make into jam when I’ve a little more time on my hands than this week. The rest were made into several batches of these gorgeous wee Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets and a fabulous Fig & Pear Crumble (which I shall be blogging shortly too).

Master J adores his figs too, though they’re not the choicest of foods for a lad going through potty training. Last Autumn I took my daily walk with Jacques-on-my-back past one particular fig tree which he’d scream at as we got closer, screaming for me to pick him some. Funny at first, but the screaming carried on for the subsequent four months until well into January and there was snow on the ground, and each time with me painstakingly trying to explain the figs were all gone and he’d have to wait until next September. Anyway at least September’s come around again and he’s one very happy wee (and exceptionally regular) chappie. And a happy chappie with a few more words than last year, namely ‘Mummy pick fig NOW!’.

Anyway enough fig talk, on with the tarts, or tartlettes if I want to be really posh. I made several batches of these last year too, and always a success. The sweetness of the figs and balsamic caramalised red onions is cut through with a little sharpness from the goats cheese and the savory notes of thyme and addition of black pepper to the pastry. Perfect for parties and buffets, or as a nibble served with pre-dinner drinks or a starter with a few dressed leaves on the side. Admittedly they’re a tad on the fiddly side but can be made in large batches and handily frozen. And so well worth the effort.

I’m going for my first ever trio of bloggie competitions with this recipe, so keep on in there while I detail them all. Firstly, I was very pleased to see September’s One Ingredient Challenge is the Fig, a wonderful competition held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at Working London Mummy (this month is Laura’s turn).

As thyme is such a crucial ingredient to my tarts I’m also entering Karen at Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (again I know, but it’s such a lovely competition!)

And last but most certainly not least my tarts are also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food Simple and in Season Competition, this month hosted by Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of competitions, now on with the recipe!

Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

Makes 24 mini tartlets:

For the Pastry:

200g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling

100g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

100g of hard vegetable fat, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

an egg yolk

For the Tarts:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 red onions, very finely sliced

2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

12 to 15 very ripe figs (about 320g)

150g of goats cheese (preferably in a log shape)

a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

a little more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Special Equipment: 

2 small x12 tart or fairy cake tins

Start with making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and continue to whiz. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, add a few drops of very cold water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk splash and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. When it comes together in a ball it’s ready. You may also need to add a few drops of water for this to happen. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the finely sliced onions and cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Allow to bubble for a minute or two before setting aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut each of the figs into 6 segments, and cut the goats cheese into 24 thin rounds.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface as thinly as you can, to a one to two millimeter thickness. Cut into rounds with a 8cm diameter pastry cutter (or like me an upturned thin wine glass – every time I make tarts I curse myself for not having a correct sized cutter!). Re-work the leftover pastry until you have 24 pastry rounds.

Lay the rounds in the two tart or cake tins and press down lightly. Place a small teaspoon of the red onions at the bottom of each, followed by a slice of the goats cheese, a scattering of thyme leaves. Finally place three fig segments on the top of each, plus a fine grinding of black pepper and the merest drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry’s golden brown and crisp.

How about trying my other tart recipes? A couple of Tomato Tarts or Leek & Goats Cheese Tart.


A Couple of Tomato Tarts

We’ve been having many a tart lately, which has made my husband a very happy man. He likes a nice tart (of the foodie variety obviously). And as it’s tomato season we’ve been using up oodles of cherry tommies on our tarts.

Not exact recipes here, but just throw it all on (in a couple of minutes tops), on bought ready rolled puff pastry (obviously you could make your own if you were so inclined and had more time than me) and bung in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And voila you have a very tasty little tart for minimum effort. Great served as a main with a large leafy salad on the side, or a tasty wee nibble, appetiser or starter. Good party food too….and great for kids!

Cherry Tomato, Pesto & Goats Cheese Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Pesto  (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

About half a log of goats cheese

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out to size if using a block). Smear a fine layer of pesto over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Cut a few slices of goats cheese and place evenly. Grind over a generous amount of black pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Tapenade Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Tapenade (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

A ball of Mozzarella

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

A little finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out if using a block). Smear a fine layer of tapenade over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Slice the Mozzarella and place evenly. Sprinkle a fine layer of Grana Padano or Parmesan over and a generous grinding of black pepper, drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

If you like this, how about trying my Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta, Cherry Tomato & Mascarpone Tagliatelle, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart, Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza, Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza


Leek & Goats Cheese Tart


I actually set out to make an asparagus tart, but couldn’t find any priced at less than €4.50 a bunch at the market yesterday (I know they’re having a laugh aren’t they?!) so I made a humble leek tart instead jazzing it up with some punchy goats cheese that we always seem to have so much of lurking in the fridge.

I don’t make tarts or quiches all that often, and every time I do I always wonder why not. They’re really not that fiddly or time consuming, and the pastry can be made in minutes in advance and happily stored in the fridge for several days, or even shop bought. I tend to make a double quantity of the pastry so that I can make a couple of tarts at a time, or a large and several minis for the kids, as they always prefer anything made in miniature. Mini Quiche Lorraine recipe coming shortly!

Enough for four:
pastry ingredients:
130g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling
35g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
30g of hard vegetable fat, cut unto small blocks, straight from the fridge
a pinch of salt

filling ingredients:
30g of butter
3-4 medium sized leeks (about 350g prepped and sliced weight)
150g of goats cheese, cut into small pieces (you can include any scrag ends or rind!)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
180ml of half fat creme fraiche (or full fat if you prefer)
salt & pepper

19-25cm width quiche or flat tin

Start by making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of very cold water (about a tablespoon) and whiz again. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, keep adding a few drops of water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of water (about a tablespoon) and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. Keep adding a further few drops of water until the dough comes together and is very smooth. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Remove the tough green ends from the leeks and wash the remaining lengths of leeks (you can do this by making a cut across the top and slicing lengthways down a few centimetres, then fanning out under a cold running tap). Once washed, slice them across into 0.5cm thick rounds.

Place a large deep sided frying pan or a saucepan on a gentle heat. Melt the butter and then stir in the cut leeks and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on this gentle heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the leeks are very soft.

Lightly grease your chosen flan tin with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll it out on a floured surface into a round that will fit your tin. Transfer to the tin. Cut off any excess pastry; there should be just enough pastry to overlap the sides by a few mms (the pastry will shrink a little when cooked). Prick the base all over with a fork. Brush the pastry case with a little of the beaten egg for the filling.

You now need to ‘bake blind’ the pastry case in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until it’s almost cooked.

Once ready, remove from the oven and dot the goats cheese evenly over the base. Then layer on the cooked leeks. Whisk the creme fraiche into the eggs, season with a little salt and pepper, though not too much as the leeks have already been seasoned, and carefully and evenly pour over the leeks.

Place the tart in the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes until the top’s a lovely golden brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve whilst warm. Lovely with a light green salad, and perhaps a few buttered new potatoes.


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