Tarts were on the menu this week and it was all about not having a soggy bottom, sloppy middle or a burnt top. My quiche came very close to all three due to having my oven set for me at the wrong function. It was on bottom heat only which meant that when I put my filling in all that liquid was sitting on my pastry for a good 30 minutes not cooking and possible making it wetter and wetter.
Quelle horreur! All was not lost though. Once I realised, I adjusted the setting and whacked up the temperature then hoped for the best. It worked! hoorah! and they liked it, not a soggy bottom in sight but due to the lack of time it was slightly unset in the very centre. Still, it past muster and was gobbled up by the crew.
I have to say I do like quiche. I think they have a bit of a bad reputation and can be seen as a little retro but not in a good way. However, depending on your filling it can be bang on. I recently made quiches with samphire & bacon and halloumi & sweet potato (see older posts).
For the show I didn't want to go too off the chart so chose a classic with a slight twist, Smoked Haddock & Watercress with a Pecorino pastry. I used dyed haddock because the yellow and green together are so beautiful and make me think of sitting outside on a sunny day. It's a good idea to use watercress sprigs and pick off the larger stalky bits so you're not chewing through woody bits.
You could use Parmesan instead of Pecorino if you like. Pecorino is made from ewes milk instead of cows milk and has a milder but more salty taste. Because of this and the haddock being quite salty I have not added any more salt but lots of white pepper.
The pastry has half marg and half white vegetable fat, this gives it a more short and crisp bake. I have no qualms about using machinery to help with making pastry and use my beloved launderette yellow freestanding mixer for this, I have very hot hands which are not good for pastry so it helps not having to handle it too much, I know Paul is disapproving of this but I'm still making my own pastry and if he wants to challenge me to a 'Pastry Off' I'm sure our school fair could accommodate him.
SMOKED HADDOCK & WATERCRESS QUICHE
200g Plain Flour
40g Sunflower Margarine
1 Onion chopped
1 Stick of Celery finely chopped
1 tbsp Olive Oil
375g Dyed Skinless Boneless Smoked Haddock Fillet
2 Bay Leaves
3/4 Pint Full Fat Milk
Pecorino to finish
Preheat the oven to 160c fan. (Not Bottom Cook)
Make your pastry. Rub all the ingredients together till they resemble fine bread crumbs. Grating the white fat helps as it can be quite hard. Add a little cold water to form it into a soft dough. Knead it slightly on a lightly floured surface till it becomes smooth.
Roll out the pastry and line a deep flan tin. I use a 24cm / 9.5" tin. Line it with parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and beans then bake for a further 8-10 minutes to finish off.
While the pastry is cooking, poach the fish in the milk and bay leaves till it's just starting to come apart, about 10 minutes. Break the bay leaves in half to help it release the flavour. Once the haddock is poached, discard the bay leaves, separate the fish and milk and allow them to cool.
Use the olive oil to fry the onion and celery then line your cooked pastry shell with them. Add 2/3 of the watercress then gently flake the fish in. Top with the remaining watercress.
Mix the eggs and white pepper into the milk and pour over the filling. Finish with grated Pecorino. Cook for 30-35 minutes turning half way to get an even browning.
The 'Show Stopper Challenge' was 2 different miniature tarts, 12 of each. I was very pleased with the results of mine but unfortunately they did not get the television debut they so rightly deserved. Paul thought they were absolutely delicious and the pastry was the thinnest there! So, here is what you missed.
CHOCOLATE & ORANGE
CINNAMON & ORANGE PASTRY
BLUEBERRY & HAZELNUT
It's a bit like a Bakewell tart but not.
For the programme I made a blueberry compote by covering bluberries with sugar in a pan then heating till you get a thick syrupy mush but St Dalfour and Bonne Maman both do lovely blueberry jams if you can't be doing with that.
Ground hazelnuts are not readily available in the supermarket so I get whole ones and grind them myself in my mini chopper. The pastry is enough for 24 but you could freeze half if you like or, as I did for these photos, make a large pastry shell and freeze that ready for another bake.
The tart tin I used is from , Lakeland. I love it and Mary was very taken with it too saying it was very different and clever. It's non stick and each square has a loose bottom so the tarts just slide out. I use a round cutter and miraculously they fit in the square hole, is it magic? I don't know but it works. That's my top tip done!
125g Sunflower Margarine
100g Plain Flour
100g Ground Hazelnuts
25g Icing Sugar
65g Sunflower Margarine
75g Ground Hazelnuts
15g Plain Flour
2 tbsp of Blueberry Jam
1 Punnet of Blueberries
Icing Sugar to dust
Pre-heat the oven to 160c
Make the pastry, Rub all the ingredients together then add the egg to form the dough. Knead a little on a lightly floured surface. You may have to add a little more flour, the oil from the nuts makes it very soft and difficult to use. Fill each tart case and put them in the freezer for 15 minutes. This helps to prevent shrinkage when it's baking.
Now mix together the Marg, sugar, egg, hazelnuts and flour. Give it a good beating till it's all combined.
You now need 1/2 tsp of the blueberry jam in each case. If you put too much in it will bubble out at the sides. Top the jam with a good tsp of the hazelnut mixture then pop 3 blueberries on top.
Bake for 20 minutes then leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin. Once they have cooled dust with icing sugar.
Next week it's bread and the most stressful technical challenge!