April Recipe: Blue Cheese and Spinach Tart with Caramelised Onions

This is a delicious tart. If you are worried about making your own pastry by all means buy shortcrust pastry. Most bags of spinach are pre-washed but if yours is not, do make sure that you dry it really well before chopping (wrap in a teatowel or use kitchen paper). Tarts of any description cook better in a metal tin rather than china if you have both to hand. Do let it cool a little before serving as it will be much easier to slice.

Serves 4 – 6

  • 3 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 90g. / 3ozs. butter
  • 1 ½ tsps. Salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Black pepper
  • 100g. / 3ozs. spinach leaves
  • 175g. / 6ozs. blue cheese (Shropshire Blue))
  • 1 tub mascarpone or full fat cream cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 24cm. / 9 ½ inch shortcrust pastry case baked blind
    Shortcrust Pastry:
  • 175g. / 6ozs. plain flour, sifted
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 90g. / 3ozs. very cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 tbsp. cold water
  • baking beans for blind baking
  1. Make the pastry. Put the flour and salt in a food processor and aerate with a couple of quick on/off pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and water (if necessary) and process until the pastry just draws together. Turn on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly. Roll out to line the tart tin and put in the fridge for half an hour. Bake blind until a good colour.
  2. Make the caramelised onions. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low heat, stir in the onions, sprinkle with the salt and sugar and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until meltingly soft and deep golden, about 30 minutes. Season to taste.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the spinach by stripping the leaves of their stalks, then rolling up the leaves and slicing them into thin strips. Mix together the blue cheese, mascarpone and egg till fairly smooth (this can be done in a food processor).
  4. Spread the caramelised onions in an even layer over the pastry case, then press the spinach gently on top, and pour over the mascarpone mixture. Try to spread the mixture evenly over the tart so that the spinach is well covered. Bake until puffed and golden at 190C / Gas Mark 5. Serve warm cut into slices with new potatoes and a salad.

February Recipe: Ginger Rhubarb Sponge

This is a very tasty pudding. Do not forget to take the butter out of the fridge so that it is nice and soft when you make the sponge. I always make my Victoria sponges with margarine rather than butter as I think it gives a lighter texture when made, but the choice is yours obviously.

The rhubarb is roasted first as it holds together better than when it is cooked in a saucepan. Clearly you can serve this with a variety of things – custard, yogurt, crème fraiche or ice cream, apart from the suggestions in the recipe.

Continue reading “February Recipe: Ginger Rhubarb Sponge”

January Recipe: Vegetable Stew with Herby Dumplings

January’s recipe is very versatile as you can, of course, vary the vegetables. Make sure you use plenty of seasoning as vegetarian dishes can sometimes be bland. If you are not that keen on pearl barley you could use half pearl barley and some tinned beans and as the recipe feeds 6 you can halve the quantities. I would not personally recommend freezing it. Shallots are much easier to peel if you put them in boiling water first, but you can use red onions or ordinary onions come to that. You can add more vegetables than the recipe states if desired and I would add a couple of cloves of garlic personally and perhaps a tin of tomatoes and some tomato puree. Continue reading “January Recipe: Vegetable Stew with Herby Dumplings”

December Recipe: Olde English Trifle

I hope you will enjoy this trifle. You could, of course, cheat and not make your own sponge and if you do not want to use double cream I find natural yogurt (the Greek style) a really good replacement.

Making your own custard is a bit of a chore but it really is much nicer than custard powder, although you can get the real custard from the chiller section. Just be careful, do not have the heat too high as you do not want to end up with scrambled eggs. I also like proper custard made with Jersey milk, readily available in Handley Organics, it tastes so much nicer and this is Christmas after all!

Have a happy and healthy festive season. Continue reading “December Recipe: Olde English Trifle”

November Recipe: Sweetcorn and Spring Onion Tart with Polenta Crust

This really is pretty straightforward and has the advantage of being fine for those who are gluten intolerant. Do not use low fat crème fraiche.

The recipe for the Spinach Salad referred to is: a handful of mint, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 1 tsp. runny honey, 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar, 6 tbsps. olive or rapeseed oil, 175g. / 6ozs. spinach and 1 small red onion finely chopped. Remove the stems from the spinach if it is not young and put in a bow with the onion. Mix all the other ingredients together to form the dressing and pour over. Serve at once. Continue reading “November Recipe: Sweetcorn and Spring Onion Tart with Polenta Crust”

October Recipe: Red Plum (or Apple) Caramel Cake

This recipe is easily adapted for the apples and pears in season at the moment. I have given you all the variations for this cake so that you can use the fruit that is available at the time.

My only advice is to make the caramel if possible in a pan that is not non stick so that you can see what is happening to the sugar mixture. Do not go away and answer the telephone. Stay with it, it changes rapidly and you do not want it too dark otherwise it will taste burnt.

This cake is made using the all in one method so do make sure your butter is nice and soft. Take it out of the fridge several hours before making or microwave briefly to soften but do not melt. Continue reading “October Recipe: Red Plum (or Apple) Caramel Cake”