eat in my kitchen

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Tag: tart

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart from my cookbook and a picnic in Valletta

Post sponsored by Volkswagen.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

The sky was refreshingly bright and October’s sun was still hot, it was a glorious Saturday morning when we met our friends at my Maltese mama’s house in Msida. The air was filled with the usual chatting and laughing before we hopped into our cars to drive up to Valletta. We brought along the obligatory guitar and our picnic baskets packed with sandwiches, fruits, and a buttery pear and stilton tart sprinkled with rosemary – a popular recipe from my Eat In My Kitchen book. And off we went to Malta’s capital.

We had planned this day trip weeks in advance: to have a picnic with our friends in Valletta, high up on the bastions opposite The Three Cities, to park Michelangelo’s beautiful Volkswagen beetle in the shade of one of the old olive trees, and set up a little table right next to this blue beauty on four wheels. It was a luscious brunch in the most stunning surroundings and to bake a savoury tart was the best choice for this occasion. You can prepare it in advance, it’s delicious even when it’s cold, and it fits perfectly to a sip of chilled sparkling wine. The topping is minimal, but the combination of baked pear, melted Stilton, and roasted rosemary is so good that it became one of my favourite recipes this year. The creation almost didn’t make it into my book. I had a different tart in mind, but I couldn’t find a certain vegetable on the day of the shoot and I decided that I could also just fill the pastry with fruit, cheese, and herbs. It was a wise choice that I don’t regret.

The choice of our setting was as spectacular as our nibbles. If you ever visit Valletta, you have to go to the St. Barbara Bastion and enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the Grand Harbour and The Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea. Then walk down to the Valletta Waterfront and take one of the little ferries to Cospicua. It only takes a few minutes and it allows you to enjoy two of the most stunning places in Malta, on land and from the sea: the golden beauty Valletta and the three fortified cities.

Thank you Matt, Michelle, Jessica, Michelangelo, Luke, and Jamie for making this day so special!

For more delicious recipes and kitchen inspiration, visit Volkswagen’s Pinterest community board Food Blogger for Volkswagen.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

From the Eat In My Kitchen book.

Serves 4 to 8

For the pastry

2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg

For the topping

2 large, firm pears, cut into thin wedges
3 ounces (85 g) aromatic blue cheese, such as Stilton, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert or Gorgonzola, crumbled
3 medium sprigs fresh rosemary, needles only
3 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky sea salt
A few black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle

For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a knife to cut it into the flour until there are just small pieces left. Quickly rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until combined. Add the egg and mix with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until crumbly. Form the dough into a thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

On a table or countertop, place the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll out into a disc, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 12-inch (30 cm) quiche dish. Fit the dough into the quiche dish, pushing it into the dish, especially along the edges. Let the dough hang over the rim a little or cut it off with a knife. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden. If the dough bubbles up, push it down with a fork. (If you blind bake the pastry under parchment paper and dried legumes, remove the paper and legumes after 15 minutes and bake uncovered for a few more minutes until golden.)

Arrange the pear wedges in overlapping circles on top of the warm, pre-baked pastry, sprinkle with the cheese and most of the rosemary, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with flaky sea salt and crushed peppercorns. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the pastry is crisp. Sprinkle with the remaining rosemary and enjoy warm or cold.

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

Pear and Blue Cheese Tart with Rosemary

 

pearstiltontart10

 

Rhubarb Tartlets with Cinnamon Oat Crumble

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

The combination of rhubarb and cinnamon crumble is so perfect that I dare to call it one of my favourite baked sweets. It’s sweet, fruity-sour, and buttery, what more could I ask for? I could add oats, which I’ve never done before for some reason, so I gave it a try and the result was extremely pleasing. The first bite through the crunchy aromatic crust and soft fruit gave me the feeling that home-baked sweets are simply the best.

The past few days were a little rough and rocky and I often wished I had two Meikes to sort out all the tasks and problems piled up on my desk. Late night work led to sleep deprivation and a paranoid me, worrying that I wouldn’t manage to finish everything in time. I call myself quite disciplined, I can work hard, but luckily, I also know when to pull the brake. It was a bright and sunny afternoon and I started to feel like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel – although not all problems were solved yet – but I decided to close my laptop. Trying not to think too much, I grabbed my bag and jumped on my bike. Cycling through springy Berlin and enjoying the bumpy ride over cobbled roads put a smile on my face as I saw nature’s leaves and blossoms taking over the city again. I stopped at a café for a creamy cappuccino that felt like the best coffee I had in a while, and leafed through a cheesy magazine. Life can be perfect and sometimes it’s so easy to get there, all you have to do is forget about your duties for a little while and follow whatever you’re mood calls for.

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

 

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

Rhubarb Tartlets with Cinnamon Oat Crumbles

Makes 10 tartlets

For the filling

trimmed rhubarb, cut into 5cm / 2″ pieces, 600g / 1 1/3 pounds
granulated sugar, 100g / 1/2 cup

For the pastry

plain flour 260g / 2 cups
sugar 80g / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
a pinch of salt
unsalted butter, cold, 160g / 2/3 cup
organic egg yolks 2

For the oat crumble

rolled oats 100g / 3 1/2 ounces / 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon
plain flour 65g / 1/2 cup
granulated sugar 90g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
unsalted butter, melted, 80g / 1/3 cup

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (preferably convection setting).

For the filling, add the rhubarb and sugar to a large baking dish and toss to combine. Bake for about 25 minutes or until soft but still in shape. Set the rhubarb aside and let it cool completely.

For the pastry, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Add the egg yolks and continue mixing with the dough hooks of an electric mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a thick disc, wrap in cling film, and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Butter 10 (10cm / 4″) tartlet pans and dust with flour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 10 equal parts. Roll out the 10 pieces of dough between cling film into 12 cm / 4 1/2″ circles. Line the tartlet pans with the pastry, push the dough into the pans, and prick with a fork. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden, bush the dough down with a fork if it bubbles up. Take the tartlet pans out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Using a metal skewer, loosen the pastry shell gently along the rim and turn the tartlets out onto the lined baking sheet.

Turn the oven down to 180°C / 350°F.

For the crumble, combine the oats, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter and mix until combined and crumbly.

Divide the rhubarb among the tartlet shells, sprinkle with the oat crumble, and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

 

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

 

Rhubarb Cinnamon-Oat Crumble Tarts

 

rhubarbtartletcinnamonoatcrumble8

 

rhubarbtartletcinnamonoatcrumble7

 

rhubarbtartletcinnamonoatcrumble15

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart with Pistachios and Rosewater

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

In the past week, I experienced the highs and lows of kitchen life, a fact that a curious baker has to live with when jumping into new recipes. Let’s start with the uplifting experience: I baked 3 cakes and 2 were fantastic, which isn’t that bad. One of them will stay a secret until I share it with you next week, but the other one was this bomb of a cake. It’s a voluptuous beauty, full of flavour, sweetness, crunch, and fluffiness. I call it a pavlova tart – not just a pavlova, which never really managed to rouse my excitement. Baked meringue sandwiched with whipped cream can be nice but it’s not enough for me. So I decided to transfer the whole thing onto buttery shortcrust pastry and now it has my attention. This combination is so good that I believe the pastry base should have been an obligatory part of this sweet classic named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova from the start. But never mind, I’m happy with my new discovery. The light meringue is soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside, it’s refined with a hint of rosewater just like the rich whipped cream that crowns the whole composition. Sweet-sour pomegranate seeds and their juices turned into a concentrated syrup lay graciously on top, side by side with nutty pistachios. Simply wonderful!

However, my disappointing kitchen experience was an epic fail – ready for the bin. I decided to give puff pastry a try again and I regretted it the moment I pulled the result out of my oven. I spent 2 days reading about the perfect croissant and up until they were in the oven I was quite optimistic that I’d manage to bake light, crisp apricot croissants, made for a Sunday brunch table. But my hope was destroyed as I opened the oven door and witnessed a rather sad result that looked like my flaky sweets got run over by a truck. It took me 2 years to recover from my last puff pastry disaster – I tried to make Maltese pastizzi, it’s the flakiest treat, basically the queen of puff pastry – which ended in a buttery, floury soup on a baking sheet. I must say that, this time, it didn’t actually look and taste as bad as my last attempt, but it’s definitely far from making an appearance on the blog. It’s a work in progress I guess.

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

 

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart with Pistachios and Rosewater

Makes 1 23cm / 9″ tart.

For the short crust base

flour 200g / 1 1/2 cups
granulated sugar 65g / 1/3 cup
a pinch of salt
butter, cold, 110g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
organic egg yolks 2

For the meringue

organic egg whites 4
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
granulated sugar 200g / 1 cup
cornstarch, sifted, 1 1/2 teaspoons
cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon
quality rosewater, preferably organic, 2 teaspoons, plus more to taste

For the topping

heavy cream, whipped, 200ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
granulated sugar
quality rosewater, preferably organic, 1 teaspoon, plus more to taste
seeds from 1/2-1 pomegranate
pomegranate juice 60ml / 1/4 cup
unsalted pistachios, chopped, 1 small handful

For the pastry, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and rub the butter into the flour until combined. Add the egg yolks and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture; this takes a few minutes. Form a thick disc, wrap in cling film, and put in the freezer for 12 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (conventional setting).

Roll the dough out between cling film and line a 23cm / 9″  tart pan with the flat pastry. Prick with a fork and bake in the oven for 12 minutes or until golden and crisp. Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely.

For the meringue, in a large, clean bowl, using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt for 1 minute. Continue whisking for 10-12 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon of the sugar at a time. The meringue should be stiff and glossy. Whisk in the cornstarch, vinegar, and 1-2 teaspoons of the rosewater. Add more rosewater to taste.

Turn the oven down to 180°C / 350°F.

Scoop the stiff egg whites onto the pre-baked pastry, spread it lightly but don’t push it down. Swirl it a bit for an uneven surface. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to 135°C / 275°F and bake for about 60 minutes or until the meringue is light golden and crisp. Switch off the oven, open the door slightly, and leave the cake in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of the rosewater. Add sugar and more rosewater to taste; set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the pomegranate juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar to the boil. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes or until it starts to thicken.

To assemble the tart, spread the whipped cream in the middle of the meringue, leaving a wide rim, drizzle with the syrup, and sprinkle with pomegrante and pistachios.

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

 

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

 

Pomegranate Pavlova Tart

 

pomegranatepavlovatart12

 

pomegranatepavlovatart10

Bean and Ramp Quiche

Bean and Ramp Quiche

Quiche is one of those dishes which makes me feel good, always, no matter what my day has been like. As soon as I see a quiche in my oven and smell its buttery aroma spread through the kitchen I have to smile. Maybe it’s the butter, or the eggs or the fact that I can look forward to another tart on my plate! That’s why I’ve already written about a couple of my quiche recipes, my classic with leek, tomatoes and thyme, the Italian one with fennel and parmesan and here is another one, packed with greens. I fill this savory tart with beans, ramp (wild garlic) and spring onions and it has a deliciously light spring feeling!

I’ve praised its short crust at length which is so crisp and buttery, to me it’s just perfect. My quiches always have a thin layer of an eggy and creamy mixture to keep it light and to leave space for the vegetable filling. Some recipes focus on the creamy filling which can make a quiche too rich and heavy, at least for my taste. I want to be able to eat a piece of quiche with my fingers, a tart for a picnic!

Bean and Ramp Quiche

Bean and Ramp Quiche

For one quiche you need a round (27cm / 10.5″) or oval baking dish or tart pan.

 

For the short crust base

flour 250g / 8.5 ounces
(I use spelt flour type 630 but you can use any other plain flour)
butter, cold 125g / 4.5 ounces
organic egg 1
salt 1 teaspoon

Combine the flour with the salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and work the butter into the flour until combined (there shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left). Add the egg and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.

 

For the filling

green beans 200g / 7 ounces
ramp (wild garlic), just the leaves, cut into slices, 30g / 1 ounce
spring onion, cut into slices, 1/2
organic eggs 3
heavy cream 125 ml
crème fraiche or sour cream 125ml
salt 1 teaspoon
ground black pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated, a generous amount

 

The quiche

Set the oven to 210°C / 410°F top/ bottom heat.

Blanche the beans in plenty of salted water for a couple minutes until al dente.

Mix  the eggs with the heavy cream, crème fraiche, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Roll out the dough between cling film and line your baking dish with the flat pastry. Prick it with a fork and blind-bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes.  Take your baking dish out of the oven and set the temperature down to 180°C / 355°F.

Spread the beans, ramp and spring onions on top of the pre-baked pastry base and pour the liquid mixture over it. Put the quiche on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden, the top should be firm. Let it cool for 10 minutes.

Bean and Ramp Quiche

 

Bean and Ramp Quiche

 

Bean and Ramp Quiche

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