Friday, April 10, 2009

Bacon, Mushroom and Leek Tart

I feel like all of the cooking I have done in the past weeks has been has been reactive rather than proactive, by which I mean, of the "what can I make out of all the stuff in the fridge that is going to go bad if we don't eat it soon?" variety, as opposed to the menu-planned-shopping-list-made-accordingly approach. The primary cause of this was my flatmate's boyfriend's birthday party, from which they came home with pounds and pounds of leftover cheese, and more bacon than one can shake a stick at. We also have a vast array of vegetables (more on this later), and Sarah keeps going away for the weekend. So I have more food than ever, and a new year's resolution to keep. Fortunately, I also have friends who can be relied upon to never say no to food, especially homemade food. Last Sunday, I met with one of these friends to have a photography lesson, and so I offered to take lunch. This is what I made, and yes, I appreciate how silly it sounds to say that I made this for a photography lesson and then omitted to take any photographs of it. Instead, I'll give you a picture of London, under a blanket of cloud.

Makes one shallow 9 inch tart - double the filling if you want it deep-filled.

For the pastry:
  • 6oz plain flour
  • 3oz butter (or half butter, half shortening - I didn't have any)
  • Pinch of salt
  • About 3tbsp cold water
  • (Alternatively, if you are new to pastry making, see here for a more generous pastry recipe - so you don't have to roll it out so thinly - with very detailed instructions.)

    For the filling:
  • 6 rashers bacon
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 60ml (4tbsp or 1/4 cup) milk
  • Black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 200°. To make the pastry, rub the fat into the flour until you get coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the salt and add just enough cold water to form a dough - start with a couple of spoonfuls and only add more if you really need it to get the mixture to clump. Gently roll out on a floured surface until just large enough to fit your flan tin. Line the tin with the pastry, making sure there are no cracks or splits, line with greaseproof paper and weight down with baking beans, old pulses or similar. Bake blind for about 7 minutes, until the sides are sufficiently cooked to support themselves. Remove the beans and paper lining and continue cooking until the base is dried out too. Turn the oven down a tad, or cover the sides of the pastry case if the edges start to brown before the centre is done.

    Meanwhile, make the filling. Cut any excess fat off the bacon and then chop into raggedy strips. Dry fry in a hot pan, making sure to evaporate off any liquid which seeps out. Then add the oil. Chop the mushrooms in half and then slice finely and add to the pan. Rinse out any mud then slice the leek into 3-5mm rounds and chuck them in the frying pan too. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all are cooked through. Whisk the eggs with the mustard and milk.

    Once the pastry case has finished baking and the filling is cooked through, assemble the tart by simply spreading the bacon and vegetables mixture evenly over the base, pouring in the egg mix and grinding a little pepper over the top. Place it back in the oven and cook until the filling is set, which should take about 10 minutes. Eat hot, warm or cold, with salad and maybe some chutney on the side, view of the Thames optional.

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