Friday, November 19, 2010

Tarted up for lunch

I had a brilliant time in Tauranga - you can see some pix on Elsewoman - and it's been very busy since I got back. On Wednesday Harvey's brother Bruce and sister-in-law Margaret came up for the day from Methven to see him, so I wanted to make something tasty for lunch. I remembered a very good Harriet Harcourt recipe for potato, brie and onion tart. It's from a book called Mission for Entertaining, a fundraiser for Wellington City Mission, with a great collection of recipes from the capital's top chefs, caterers, restaurateurs, food retailers and food writers.
          A friend gave it to me for Christmas two years ago, and it's proved very useful. It has one excellent feature which is notably lacking in every one of the lavish new celebrity cookbooks I've looked at recently. There are no pictures, but the recipes are clearly printed in black on white, so you can read them easily while you're cooking.
           Now isn't that a novel idea! Without exception, the new books by Jamie, Nigella, Annabel et al. feature coloured or grey type, often in quite a small font size, printed on coloured backgrounds or even over photos, making the recipes difficult and in some cases impossible to read. Obviously the designers don't cook - or at any rate, not from these books. And I won;t be cooking from them either.
             So, to the tart. I cooked the potatoes and the onions the night before, making it very quick to assemble next day. And (forgive me, Harriet) I added a bit of chopped lean bacon on top as well, because I had some and thought it would be good - and it was. This is more substantial than the usual quiche, so it worked very well for hungry people who'd left home about 5 am to get here.

Potato, onion and brie tart (slightly adapted from Harriet Harcourt's recipe - hers serves six, mine serves four)

Two sheets of savoury shortcrust pastry
About six small gourmet potatoes, each cut into 4-6 even chunks depending on size (no need to peel them)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions (or more small ones) thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
125g round of brie, cut into smallish chunks (I sliced it in half horizontally before cutting it up, and didn't use it all because I had bacon as well)
2 rashers of lean bacon cut into small pieces (optional)
2 large eggs
150 ml creme fraiche
salt and pepper

*Heat oven to 200C and lightly butter a 27 cm flan dish (I use one with a loose bottom)
*Use one sheet of pastry to line the flan dish and the other, cut into strips, to join to the edges and neatly cover the sides of the dish. Put the pastry lined dish into the fridge for 15 minutes. (I used to skip this bit, until I discovered that the pastry then shrank down the sides of the dish and didn't hold the filling properly.)
* Put potatoes in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 8-10 minutes until just cooked. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
* Gently heat oil in a non-stick frypan, add onion and cook gently for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add crushed garlic and half the thyme leaves and cook for another 3 minutes. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
* Take pastry lined dish out of fridge and spread the mustard over the base.
* Spread the onions over the mustard.

* Scatter over the pieces of potato, then add the pieces of brie and (if using) the bacon.
* Beat together the eggs and creme fraiche, season with salt and pepper, and pour carefully over tart.

* Sprinkle with the rest of the thyme and bake for 25 minutes until golden and set.
* Serve warm with a simple salad.

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