The collective noun for tarts? Answers on a postcard…
The last garlic bulb has been plucked from the string, my suitcase is packed and sad au revoirs said. I have finished here in Provence and am on my way to take a “wee” trip across Scotland. Driving away I wistfully turned to get one last glimpse of the fig tree that was about to produce an army of ripe fleshy fruits.
Always keen to gather new facts, I reflected on some of the things I had learnt over the summer about the French way of life;
1) The further south you travel the more kisses are given and received upon greeting, its a time consuming delightful 3 in Provence.
2) In the South, olive oil largely replaces butter in cooking and is the star of many of the provincial dishes; ratatouille, tapenades, soupe au Pisto, and the dressings, dips and marinades of the region.
3) If you are French and want to show true finesse when eating pudding, never pick up your spoon – it is there to trick you. Use your fork for everything, including ice cream.
4) Everyone stops for lunch.
I am not sure what the collective noun for tart is, a bust, romp or flush perhaps but reflecting on the last few weeks I sure have whipped up a few for the midday meal. Lunch is a long, leisurely social meal here and a tart is undeniably a great dish for a crowd. You can even make it with varied halves so that it has a child and adult friendly side.
Tarts are also a great way of using up left overs. From serving up many a cheese board at dinner I was frequently left with little bits which made the most delicious 4/5/6/7 types of cheese tarts. Each one unique and delicious. Likewise, remains of a mixed grilled vegetable salad can be transformed into a lovely filling, as can the sides of fried aubergines, slow cooked courgettes, roasted tomatoes and so on. It is also always great to add dollops of pestos and olive tapenades.
A good quiche Lorraine and a chilled glass of Grand Cru Preuses Chablis can hardly make for a happier lunch but I wont bore you with the recipe. What I will say though is, if you do decide to make one keep the filling fairly shallow, so much more elegant than a thick eggy bacon type quiche. Add some créme fraîche to the eggs and cream, oh and don’t forget to sprinkle the blind baked pastry case with lots of grated gruyere – should have just given the recipe!
This postcard recipe is more of a starting block for a tart. Fillings can be chosen on what you have in the fridge, an abundance of whats in the garden, something that catches your eye at the shops or perhaps suitable left overs from yesterdays dinner. If serving more than one tart I like to use different pastries so maybe a shortcrust then a filio or puff pastry base and also make them in different shapes – circular, round or rectangular, be creative. Like the French, sit down and take time over your lunch,enjoy, et bon appetite!
Serves a greedy 6 or a more restrained 8.
You will need a 30cm oven proof fluted glass tart dish – this way you can cut and serve it in the dish.
For the pastry
250g plain flour
100g cold salted butter
6 tbsp cold water
- Add the flour to a mixing bowl and using the large side grate in the cold butter.
- Rub together with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle over the cold water and mix confidently bringing the mix into a ball.
- Roll the pastry into a circle and line the tart dish ( lightly flouring the rolling pin and work surface),
- Prick the pastry case with a fork and rest in the fridge for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 190 ºc , line the pastry with baking parchment and fill with pie weights ( dried chickpeas/rice/ceramic baking beans) and bake for 15 minutes.
For the filling
600g to 800g of filling – could be grilled vegetables, roast tomatoes, fried lardons, baked vegetables, grated/crumbs of cheese….. (Just note if using vegetables like tomatoes make sure they are not too wet by straining off excess juice.
8 free range eggs
300ml double cream
1)Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly, whisk in the cream and season with salt and pepper.
2)Pour into the baked pastry.
3)Add in the filling of your choice and top if desired with extra grated cheese or dollops of pestos/tapenades finely chopped herbs.
4)Bake at 170º for 30 – 40 mins until set.
Most delicious when served warm with crunchy green salad and a glass or two of chilled Chablis.