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Wandering tarts

Dreaming of languid summer picnics and sumptuous outdoor feasts? Packing a selection of scrumptious pies and tarts is an excellent plan of attack.

Recipes Claire Aldous, styling Sarah Heeringa. Photography Amanda Reelick

Tomato tart

Tomato Tart
There are a few steps to make this tart, but it’s stunning-looking and delicious to boot.

Pastry
225g plain flour
170g butter, diced and chilled
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp iced water

Tomatoes
8 medium-sized vine tomatoes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g button mushrooms, diced
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
6 eggs
300ml crème fraîche
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated
Parmesan

Pastry: Place the flour, butter, salt, pepper and rosemary in a food processor and process until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Combine the egg yolk and water and add to the flour. Process until the dough just starts to come together. Tip onto the bench and form into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured bench and line a 24cm x 3cm or 4cm deep flan ring or loose-based tart tin. Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Bake the tart blind for 20 minutes, remove baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool.

Tomatoes: Lower the tomatoes into a saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of iced water. Peel off the skin and cut off the tops to make lids. Use a teaspoon or melon baller to scrape out the seeds, taking care not to split the tomato shell. Sprinkle the insides with a pinch of salt and invert onto paper towels to drain for 1 hour.

Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan and cook the onion and garlic until tender. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and any moisture has evaporated. Stir in the spinach to wilt, then the breadcrumbs and season generously. Carefully pat the tomatoes dry, inside and out, with paper towels and spoon in the stuffing.

Beat the eggs and crème fraîche together and season well. Arrange the tomatoes in the tart and top with the lids. Brush the lids with a little olive oil and season. Pour the cream mixture around the tomatoes and scatter over the Parmesan.

Bake the tart for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180°C and cook until the filling is just set.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a salad.
Serves 4-6

  

Smoked Salmon and Caper Tart
There’s nothing fishy about this tasty pie.

Pastry
225g flour
170g butter, diced and chilled
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp iced water

Filling
2 tbsp olive oil
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 handfuls of baby spinach
3 eggs
1 cup crème fraîche
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp capers, drained
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
200g hot smoked salmon
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp freshly grated
Parmesan

To finish
small handful rocket leaves
1/4 cup black olives shaved
Parmesan

Pastry: Place the flour, butter, salt, pepper and thyme leaves in a food processor and process until the mixture forms fine crumbs. Combine the egg yolk and water and add to the flour. Process until the dough just starts to come together.
Tip onto the bench and form into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured bench and line a 24cm loose-based tart tin. Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Bake blind for 20 minutes, remove the baking beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool.

Filling: Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the spring onions, leek and garlic until soft. Fold in the spinach and turn to wilt. Cool.

Whisk the eggs, crème fraîche, lemon zest, flat-leaf parsley and capers together. Add the cooled leek mixture and season. Pour into the tart. Break the salmon into pieces and scatter over the top. Dot with the tomatoes and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set.

To serve: When the tart has cooled transfer it to a serving plate. Scatter over the rocket, olives and shaved Parmesan and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 6

  

Grape and Blue Cheese Schiacciata with Honey
An easy flat bread with moreish sweet and savoury flavours.

Dough
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey

To assemble
2 tbsp olive oil
400g seedless red grapes
150g blue cheese, crumbled into small pieces
1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
3 tbsp honey
30 cm ovenproof sauté pan or cake tin, brushed lightly with olive oil

Dough: Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the mixer going, gradually add the water, olive oil and lastly the honey and beat on low speed for 5 minutes.
The dough should be smooth and elastic. If the dough is very loose, add a little extra flour. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

To assemble: Divide the dough in half. Roll one piece out on a lightly floured bench to fit the base of the tin.

Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and scatter with half the grapes, blue cheese and thyme and drizzle with half the honey.

Roll out the second piece of dough and place on top, pinching the edges together. Brush with olive oil and scatter over the remaining grapes, gently pushing them down into the dough, then top with the remaining blue cheese, thyme and honey.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and puffed.

To serve: Cut into wedges and serve warm, drizzled with extra honey.

Serves 8 

  

Lemon Curd, Berry and Pistachio Brioches
These delicious brioches are easier than you might think, as the dough can be made a day in advance. Use fresh berries or stone fruit when in season.

Brioche
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 tsp instant dried yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups plain flour
1 egg
80 grams butter, soft but not melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
125 grams cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup lemon curd
300g frozen mixed berries

To finish
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of water (egg wash) caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped pistachio nuts
icing sugar

Brioche: Pour lukewarm milk into a mixing bowl and whisk in yeast, then add sugar, salt, 1/2 cup of the flour and mix. Put in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to activate the yeast. Beat in the egg, butter and vanilla, and gradually add remaining flour to make a soft and slightly sticky dough that comes away from the side of the bowl. Knead for 5-10 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a large, well buttered bowl, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate to rise slowly overnight. If you intend using the dough on the same day, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

The next day: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll the dough into a log and cut into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 14cm circle and place on a lined baking tray. Brush the edges with water and fold the edge to make a 1cm-wide border, pressing to seal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave for 30 minutes.

Filling: Beat the cream cheese until light then beat in the sour cream, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice. Stir in the lemon curd. Divide the filling between the brioches and top with the berries. Brush the edges with egg wash and sprinkle the berries and the brioches generously with sugar. Bake for 16-18 minutes until golden and puffed. Transfer to a cooling rack.

To serve: Scatter with pistachios and dust with icing sugar.

Makes 8

  

Best pastry tips: 

• Preheat the oven to the specified temperature before putting the pastry in the oven.

• Make pastry in a cool kitchen and work quickly to avoid the ingredients heating up and making the pastry greasy. Cool your hands by running them under the cold tap.

• Pastry shrinks when cooked. All pastry, except for choux, needs to be well chilled before it is baked. If not, the butter will melt before the flour has cooked it into the right shape.

• Too much water will make pastry tough – add just enough to bring the dough together. Overworking can also cause pastry to be tough, so handle it gently.

How to bake blind

Line a prepared pastry case with baking paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. These keep the pastry in shape as it cooks. Bake in a preheated 190°C-200°C oven for 10-12 minutes before removing the paper and weights.

The shell should now have taken form. If the pastry is not going to be cooked further with a filling, reduce the temperature to 175°C until it is completely cooked and golden. Otherwise return to the oven for the time specified in the recipe.

Good tip: Pie weights are reusable ceramic or metal balls, which are available from cookware stores. Dried beans can also be used as an alternative.

Recipes Claire Aldous, styling Sarah Heeringa and Rebekah White. Food by Aimee Carruthers

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