Friday, 25 February 2011

Goats Cheese and Roast Tomato Tart

Don't you hate it when you get a bill from the tax man demanding money? Well, that's what happened to me this week.  Not my favourite way to start a week.

So, to try and make my bank balance feel a little better about itself I've been tight with everything else. The only problem is that my default place to go when I'm feeling stressed or down is kitchen which usually involves spending money. And so the challenge make a meal from what we had lying about in the fridge. Easier said than done when your fridge looks like it's just been raided by the food police.

I had butter, eggs, tomatoes and goat's cheese. Mmm, what to do? My little brain was beginning to steam when...brainwave! In times like these, make a tart! Tarts or quiches are a great way of using up all those odd bits in the fridge that are just asking to be eaten but you don't know what to do with. (OK, I admit that I had to go and pick up some cream, but at 57 cents, I could just raid the copper jar). All I do is rustle up a bit of short crust pastry, pop whatever I have lying around in the case, top it up with a mix of eggs and cream, bung it in the oven and bob's your uncle, 30 minutes later you've got a tasty dinner out of what you'd otherwise written off.

I slow roasted the tomatoes in the oven for a couple of hours before assembling the tart. This really brings out the sweetness and are also great in salads or on toast. It's so versatile - you could use any cheese you have lying around, or a different vegetable too. Broccoli and Stilton makes for an amazing tart. I'll have to get that one on here at some point.

Makes a 23cm tart

Loosely based on a recipe from 'Great British Food'

For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes

6 plum tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
About 35ml olive oil


Preheat the oven to fan 150C.

Cut the plum tomatoes in half and place them in a large bowl. Chop the garlic and add it to the bowl with the tomatoes along with the olive oil and thyme. Season with pepper and toss together until the tomatoes are well coated.

Roast in the oven for about 2 hours until they are partly dried out and then season to taste with the salt. Set aside. Increase the temperature to 175C and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.

For the Tart

12 roasted tomato halves
100g goats cheese
3 eggs
300ml cream
Salt and pepper


In the prepared pastry case (recipe follows), crumble the goat's cheese over the base. Arrange the tomato halves in two circles, one large one around the outside and one smaller one in the middle. Whisk together the eggs and cream and season to taste.

Pull the oven rack with the baking sheet on it out and place the tart tin on it before you add the egg and cream mix. Pour the egg mix into the case and gently push it back in the oven. It's easier to do it this way as the egg mix can go everywhere if you try and carry it from worktop to oven already filled.

Leave for 30-35 minutes until just set and slightly golden on top. It's best to leave it to cool before slicing as it will firm up. It will get very messy if you don't! Best served warm or at room temperature so it's a great make ahead too!

Basic Short Crust Pastry

200g plain flour
100g butter, diced
1/2tsp salt
Cold water
1 egg yolk


Preheat the oven to 150C and butter and lightly flour a 23cm, loose bottomed tart tin.

Put the flour, salt and butter into a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little water at a time and start to mix together with a knife. When it starts to clump together, start to bring it together with your hands adding enough water so that the bowl is left clean.

If the mix seems a little dry, add a drop more water. Only a tiny bit at a time though! Sometimes all it takes is wetting your fingertips. You probably won't need as much liquid as you think. Turn out, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

When ready, on a cold, lightly floured surface, roll the pastry into a round slightly larger than the tart tin. Gently press the pastry into the tin, making sure it gets right into the corners. Cut off the excess pastry leaving a slight overhang of about 5mm as it will shrink slightly when baked. Prick the bottom of the case all over with a fork. (This lets air escape from underneath the pastry and so stops it rising too much). Chill for a further 30 minutes. This relaxes the pastry to minimise shrinkage.

To bake blind, line the case with greaseproof paper and pour in baking beans or dried beans/pulses. (I just use split peas). Bake for about 15 minutes, remove the the baking beans and greaseproof and bake for a further 10-15 minutes uncovered until it starts to look a light golden colour. Beat an egg yolk and brush it over the base and bake for a further 2 minutes. This give the pastry a 'waterproof' layer so none of the filling escapes and you keep that lovely crisp bottom that you've worked so hard for.

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