Friday 24 July 2009

asparagus & potato tart

asparagus & potato tart 1

I'm not a big watcher of food programmes on TV. I'm not sure why this is - I suppose a contributing factor is having Not Had A Telly for the past year at uni, but I was baking last night when Nigella Express came on BBC2, and I definitely wasn't a fan ... if by 'not a fan' you mean 'kind of wanted to give her a good shake', which I do. It was a bit of a crushing blow, considering I love all of her recipes and the way she writes - maybe I just don't like seeing people for real? Maybe it's a little too close to actual human contact for comfort? Maybe I should be locked up; but let's move on.

I was as surprised as anyone to find myself really enjoying Jamie At Home, then - you know; Jamie Oliver grows courgettes and potatoes and things, pours copious amounts of olive oil over everything, gets nice and grubby, and then serves an amazingly fresh, simple dish at the end of it. I'm good at maybe two of those things (read: consuming olive oil and getting dirty fingernails) so I feel a bit of an affinity for him.

asparagus & potato tart 2

However, Jamie At Home was something I could only watch on internet catch-up while I was at uni, which meant more often than not I'd be watching Jamie grilling seafood and tossing it with chopped red chilli and lemon juice on a bed of courgette ribbons, while I'd be sat at my desk eating cuppasoup, or - at best - 'insert food item here' on toast. (Under such depressing circumstances, you can see why I wasn't blogging.)

To come home and be allowed all the chopped red chilli and lemon juice I could get my hands on was a revelation (specifically; not to eat red chilli and lemon juice on their own), but it was this asparagus & potato tart that was the biggest success with my family; something I'd seen Jamie make on the programme weeks before that had made me sigh dramatically -'WILL I EVER SEE ASPARAGUS AGAIN?', type thing.

The fun irony of this story is that, since I made this, asparagus season has kind of ended.

asparagus & potato tart 3

I could say I'm doing this to you because I care, but that would be a lie. I'm doing this to you because I want you to feel my pain.

And also because this tart is delicious.

And also because I'm well brought up and am going to give you other options to use this base for. As long as you tell my mum what a nice girl I am.

asparagus & potato tart 4

Asparagus & Potato Tart

Adapted from Jamie At Home

Jamie's version of this used filo pastry and double cream, but since it's the eggs that set tarts like this, I used milk as it's what we had in. Obviously both work, but cream is richer if you're serving this for a particular occassion. I also used a fair bit less butter and cheese than he suggested; not consciously, just because I didn't feel we needed quite so much - use your own judgement.

British asparagus season is shorter than my tolerance for most TV chefs, but it's the mashed potato base of this that's so different, and almost anything could replace the aspargus. My little sister's optimistic suggestion (I don't know why I even asked) was 'SAUSAGES': I rolled my eyes, but on reflection a 'bangers & mash' tart is quite a cute idea.

500g (1lb 2oz) potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
sea salt
& freshly ground black pepper
500g asparagus spears, woody ends removed
about 400g
(8oz) shortcrust pastry (or 2oog filo, Jamie's way, but he uses an extra ton of butter for this)
100g (3oz)
freshly grated Lancashire cheese
(3 oz)
freshly grated Cheddar cheese
3 large eggs
1 x 284ml pot
(1 1/4c.)
double cream (I used milk)
1/4 of a nutmeg
a good blob of melted butter

1. Put the potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 mins. Meanwhile blanch the asparagus in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 4 mins, and drain in a colander.

2. Preheat oven to 190C (375F) and prepare an ovenproof dish (Jamie helpfully says, 'I've used many different shapes and sizes' - men. I think a 9x13" halfroaster would be the perfect size; I made one 8x11" tart and one individual one with this quantity). Roll out shortcrust pastry into a large rectangle on a floured surface and line your tart dish with it.

-- Have you ever used the trick of rolling out pastry between floured sheets of clingfilm (plastic wrap)? I would explain further, but that's basically all there is to it. I did it for the first time making this tart, and it's changed my life, to exaggerate but a little. Yet I digress --

Prick the bottom of your pastry case a few times with a fork, and if your life is empty and you don't have an Aga, cover it with a layer of baking parchment and parbake it for five minutes or so.

3. When the potatoes are done, mash them with the cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream/milk and stir into the cheesy mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg, season well with pepper (seasoning is key in this tart) and mixed together. Spread the mash over the pastry, then take the blanched asparagus and line it up across the filling, making sure you cover it all. Brush all over with the melted butter and put in the oven for about 20 mins, or until golden. Allow to rest 10 mins before serving alongside some fresh salad.

asparagus & potato tart 6


grace said...

i find nigella a bit nauseating to watch as well--it's like she's trying too hard to look like she's not trying too hard. however, i love the accent (and usually her food) so i don't mind. :)
meanwhile, this is one GORGEOUS tart. i don't like asparagus that much, but that doesn't stop it from making a killer presentation. and yes to the sausage!

Lori said...

Your a lovely girl! Did your Mum hear me?

This tart is equally lovely. College food sucks! That is one of the pains of college. In your case it is especially difficult because you know what good food is. I feel your pain~!

Adam said...

I'm not a huge TV watcher either, but Mr. Oliver is one of my favorites. He uses lemon juice and simplicity on everything, which is awesome.

I totally remember those college days. I'm surprised you didn't mention Ramen Soup, but then maybe that's a little too cliche. Did you gain a freshman 15? If it wasn't for the weight room I'd be a different man. And by that I mean double :)

maybelles mom said...

wow does this look delicious and very moist.

Anna said...

Thank you everyone!

Adam - I absolutely did gain the freshman 15..! Luckily I lose weight when I'm stressed (silver lining), so the exam period sorted me out again, haha. I'm resolving to eat better over next year =].

your valentine ♥ said...

i must confess, i screamed when i clicked on your bloglink (after eons of looking wistfully at it and wondering if i ever chose to click on it would i be spared the disappointment and pain at the sight of the post title "HIATUS NOTICE (AND TRUFFLES AGAIN)" BUT LO AND BEHOLD, MIRACLES DO HAPPEN. tonight i was feeling particularly melancholy and nostalgic and I CLICKED, I CLICKED. ANDDDDDDD YOU HAVE RETURNED FROM THE LAND OF THE DEAD. YOU HAVE REVIVED. ... you are back! AND I WELCOME YOU WITH OPEN ARMS, OH YES. THANK YOU GOD. not that you are God, but thanking Him for PUTTING YOU BACK ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB. yes. continue to enrich my mind with your glorious recipes.

i suppose all this sounds rather psychotic... sorry. this is just the happiest discovery i've had today, apart from the half an hour i spent just now learning how to use a seam-ripper to make artistic rips in my sister's old jeans. i'm terribly glad you're back! and i hope you will continue POSTING because i love your recipes, and your neurotic rambling, because it is exceedingly funny, and sometimes echoes my own sentiments. THERE IS SOMEONE MORE INSANE THAN ME IN THIS WORLD.

i hope you have a nice day!!!

Celeste Maia said...

The only cooking program I watch is Jamie Oliver's, I love his imagination and the lovely products he use and how easy he makes it look. As a result I am always starving after watching him cook.
Your asparagus and potato tart is really good, because I cooked it for dinner last night and it turned out really well. So thank you!

irina @ PastryPal said...

Well, if it's good, it's good, even if it comes from a TV personality that's worthy of a throttle. I admit, I have a few Jamie books, and I think they are lovely to look at and cook from. Beautiful tart.

Poorni Pillai said...

Looks delicious. Your little sister might soon be following in your footsteps,eh? :)

amandalouden said...

Love this, amazing.

Anonymous said...

This looks so amazing it might just make me an asparagus convert... MIGHT. *glares suspiciously at asparagus*

Oh, beautiful photos as always :)

Julia @ Mélanger said...

I don't watch much TV either. Maybe an hour or two max p/w (now that Australian Masterchef has finished). I like Jamie Oliver actually. Have a few of his books. I love this tart. I am a big big fan of asparagus. Actually can't remember the last time I had it though. Must make this now! :)

Maria♥ said...

Indigo, this tart looks absolutely amazing and your photography is beautiful!!


alexandra said...

That texture looks divine! I bet you could make this with any number of vegetables. Yum! I love Jamie at Home. His kitchen is just dreamy.

Emily said...

Gorgeous! The presentation on this is great. Looks delicious!

Abitofafoodie said...

A mashed potato base? This sounds good...
Love asparagus. But can similarly see this working with other things. Even sausages!!

Rhyleysgranny said...

I was going to make pizza for tea but I just changed my mind. I am going to print this and put it in the Jamie book. I like him too. I also like Nigella but I too find her TV stuff rather nauseating. Once again gorgeous pics. You have a really lovely blog.

Stratus Cliffhanger said...

You're amazing. Glad you are posting again.

Miriam Leigh said...

As a vegetarian, I'm always looking for hearty, savory vegetarian dishes. This looks perfect! Can't wait to try it.