It’s been too long between meals, time to roll up the sleeves and get this blog going again!
Cooking with pastry is something that has always eluded me so I thought I would try and tackle one of the basics – shortcrust pastry.
Shortcrust pastry is so delicious and versatile. It’s most commonly used in pie or tart bases. You can use regular shortcrust for quiches, chicken pies or savory tarts. If you add sugar you will end up with ‘sweetcrust’ which is used in apple pies, lemon meringues and many other sweet treats.
After searching online I stumbled across a very easy shortcrust recipe – purists out there will scoff at the use of a food processor, but I don’t really mind using it as it saves a lot of time and hassle.
I had been thinking about caramelized onion and goats cheese tarts for quite some time only there was a small problem – I’m not the biggest fan of goats cheese. So I brainstormed a few ideas for tarts with feta cheese and ended up with the following recipe:
Shortcrust Tart Base
1 egg, beaten with 2tbsp cold water
125g butter, cubed
1 2/3 cups plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 small bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 leek, thinly sliced
1/2 Spanish Chorizo, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 block feta cheese, crumbled
4-5 Sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 eggs, 50ml milk
Extra virgin olive oil
Thyme, salt and pepper to taste
For the shortcrust pastry, combine flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Run it until you get a consistency that looks something like breadcrumbs. Keep the processor running and slowly add the egg and water mixture until all ingredients combine. As soon as the dough comes together in one big lump, stop the food processor.
Flour a surface, separate the dough into 2 portions and knead for about 30 seconds, then form them into discs. Cover in glad wrap and store in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
While the dough is resting, fire up a pan on medium-low heat. Add the leeks, garlic and fennel then allow them to sweat. Add a few generous glugs of olive oil. This process should take around 30 minutes. Make sure you don’t get too much colour on them as you want to take your time and allow the natural sweetness of the fennel and the leeks to come out. Add the thyme in around half way, season with salt and pepper, set aside.
Turn the heat right up and fry the chorizo until golden brown. Make sure those lovely fats have rendered and left the surface nice and crispy. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees c. Grease 2 muffin tin trays and take the shortcrust dough out of the fridge. Flour a surface and flatten it out with a rolling pin, 1 disc at a time. You want to try and get it as thin as you can, probably around 3-4mm thickness. You then want to cut out discs that are 10cm in diameter. Press these into the muffin tins, line them with baking paper and fill them up with dry lentils. This stops the pastry from puffing up. Bake for 10 minutes then take them out of the oven, carefully empty out the lentils and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. You are after a light golden colour.
So now you have the tart casings and the fillings ready to go. Almost there!
Fly, my pretties.
Divide the leek and fennel mixture into all the casings then layer with sun dried tomato and few slices of chorizo. Spoon in the egg and milk mixture over the fillings until it’s all finished. Finish off with the crumbed feta, then return to the oven for 15 minutes, or until the egg mixture has set and the feta has some colour on it. It should hopefully look something like this:
Tarts - done.
I was pretty happy with the results considering this was my first time working with shortcrust so will continue to experiment with it. They turned out delicious, but sadly they did not last very long.
I wanted to give them a name but couldn’t think of anything – any ideas? Leave a comment below with suggestions!