Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bacon and asparagus tart


Serves 4

Asparagus just about qualifies as a late spring vegetable. At home, the first spears are ready now, and they are arguably the best in the world. This is the time to knock out a cute lunchtime tart like this one. This is a shallow flan really with a shortcrust pastry base. I recommend using a shallow 26cm diameter non-stick pizza pan, 1cm deep with a 1cm lip. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for barely a minute then cool in cold water.

Pastry
120g plain flour
60g butter
25g grated cheddar
A pinch of salt and grated nutmeg
2 large egg yolks half the white from 1 large egg

Filling
12 medium stalks of asparagus
120g mature cheddar
100g crème fraîche
2 egg yolks and 1 egg white
80g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

First sift the flour onto your work surface. Then cut the butter into small cubes and place them on top of the flour together with the cheese, salt and nutmeg. Rub the ingredients together with the tips of your fingers until all the lumps of butter and cheese have melted into the mix. Make a well in the centre and add the 2 yolks and egg white.

Work the egg in with your fingers. This is messy but enjoyable; you can use a plastic scraper to remove the pastry from your hands. Gather the pastry into a ball and work it with the heel of your hand for 30 seconds. Work the pastry again for a minute, and then shape it into a ball, wrap in cling film and store in the fridge until needed.

Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6. In the meantime, roll out the pastry to the approximate size of the pizza pan. Lay the pastry over the pan and press it down. You can trim the sides if you like, but we don’t bother. It just looks better that way. Mix the grated cheddar with the crème fraîche and egg and add a little salt. Spread the cheese mix on top of the pastry, and arrange the asparagus spears, finally distribute the bacon pieces and grind some pepper on top. Bake for 15 minutes until nicely browned.