12 May 2016

Leek & bacon tart - a quiche-alike!

One of my favourite vegetables is the leek.  Now I know that friends would say there's not a vegetable that I don't like - and I admit they have a point.

However, leeks are right up there in my top 10, along with things like the humble spud and the princely asparagus.

So, when I decided that I must explore egg enriched pastry dough (which is a very lovely thing that finishes with a biscuity texture), I naturally pondered on what to put in said pastry.  Naturally, I contemplated such things as pasties, sausage rolls - even a rhubarb & strawberry pie (which has to be done, very soon).  However, we all like a quiche and even if the pastry was a complete disaster (which it wasn't), I figured you can at least eat the filling out of the middle and save dinner that way.

Having just made a couple of Quiche Lorraines (for different occasions) recently, I was after something more interesting than the standard egg, cheese & bacon.  Consulting my copious list of "recipes gleaned from t'internet", I came across this one - Leek Tart, from the Cooking in Plain Greek blog.  Now, as I've said up there ~nods upwards~ leeks are one of my favourite veggies and I remembered this recipe. I'd had it sitting in my list for probably years, just waiting for a moment such as this.  Curiously, it also uses an egg enriched pastry dough!  Oooh, it was meant to be.

Now because I'm me and you wouldn't expect anything else, now would you?  I tinkered about with the recipe for the filling.  Well, you see, I had 100ml of single cream that had no home to go to and just made sense to put it in this recipe.  I also had more bacon than 100g available to me - and everything is made better with more bacon, right?  I looked up the cost of Gruyere cheese, as I know it has been pricey in the past - and it hadn't improved any.  However, there on the same online shopping page, was Gouda cheese - and for a lot less money.  Well, it seemed to make sense, so that's what I went with.

It even looked fairly pretty before it was baked!
Well, I was jolly pleased with how the whole experiment turned out.  The pastry was light and crisp, with a touch more substance to it, finishing up slightly more biscuity than a standard lard/butter shortcrust pastry.  I shall definitely be using it in more recipes.

The filling became interestingly fluffy from the addition of the yoghurt.  As I mixed it into the eggs, the whole lot thickened - somewhat alarmingly at first - which caused the filling to be a lot less "wet" than a usual quiche filling often is.  Interestingly, our son's opinion of the tart was that the filling was more "wet" than normal, but not in a "runny" kind of a way, but in a juicy-leeks-and-bacon kind of a way.  I know exactly what he means - and I like it!

True, this tart isn't the cheapest to prepare - the butter, eggs, bacon, cheese and cream all add up.  However, it is a deep fill tart and a quarter of an 8 inch tin goes a long way, so you can afford to be cautious with your portion sizes.  I dare say you could easily feed five, if not six, if you're careful with your cutting.

Mmmmmnnnn, there's a good half of my tart left in the fridge.  I can tell, it's not going to have a long wait before it sees me again.

LEEK & BACON TART    (serves 4)

Ingredients :

For the pastry

200g plain flour
100g cold salted butter
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp water
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the filling

1 tbsp olive oil
100g thickly sliced smoked bacon
3 medium leeks, halved and finely sliced
1 large banana shallot, chopped finely
100ml Greek yoghurt
100ml single cream
2 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
60g Gouda cheese, grated.

Method :

Put the flour, butter and seasoning into your food processor and process until the contents resemble fine breadcrumbs.  Add the egg yolk and the water and blitz again, until the contents form a clump.

Decant out onto a large piece of cling film and form into a ball and cover with another big piece of cling film.  Then, roll the pastry out flat until sufficiently large to line your 8 inch pie dish, or tin.

Remove the top layer of cling film and drop the pastry into the dish, pastry side down.  Ease the pastry into the dish with the cling film attached and once securely lining your dish, remove the cling film.  Trim the pastry to fit and crimp the edges in a pretty pattern.

Pre-heat the oven to 180degC/350degF/Gas 4.

Cut a piece of baking parchment to slightly bigger than your pastry lined dish, then crumple it into a ball and smooth out on top of the pastry.  You'll find crumpling it like this allows it to fit the dish better.  Tip in a good quantity of baking beans (to prevent the pastry from bubbling) and place the pastry case into the oven to part bake for 15 minutes.  Once the time is up, remove from the oven, remove the parchment paper and baking beans and set the pastry case aside to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the bacon.  Fry over a high heat until all the water has evaporated and the bacon is just beginning to turn golden.  Reduce the heat to moderate and add the leeks, shallots and more black pepper.  You may need to add a little more olive oil at this stage - I use a little extra virgin olive oil for flavour.  Once the leeks are softened, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the yoghurt, cream, eggs and black pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Add a small amount of the grated cheese to the bowl, along with the leek mixture from the frying pan.  Stir quickly and gently, to combine.  Then, pour the filling into the pastry case, taking care to distribute the leeks and bacon evenly.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface of the leeks and put the whole thing into the oven (middle shelf) for some 35-40 minutes, or until the surface is nicely golden and the centre feels firm and not at all squishy.

Set aside for 10 minutes or so to settle before serving, or alternatively allow to cool and serve at room temperature with salad.

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