Monday, 30 November 2015

A Christmas Tart with Crispy Pastry and Crunchy Feta

Around half of my close family are vegetarian or non-meat eaters, so one of our Christmas gatherings will probably include the usual poultry but definitely one of my vegetarian creations. The 'others' are kind and aware of the roast potato thing (separate, cooked in oil) and the rest of it, so all will be well.

This year, we expect that eight of us will meet up at my brother's for a pre-Christmas lunch, and I've been practising the main course that I'll bring for myself, Mr P, and any of the others who are tempted. It has eight ingredients and needs 25-30 mins baking. 

Best way is to make the pastry case first, to cover the base and sides of the dish, and leave it chilling in the fridge while prepping all other ingredients. If using frozen pastry sheets, leave in the fridge overnight to thaw or at room temp about 3h. Once the case is ready, 20mins should see the ingredients processed and the tart ready for the oven. Quantities can be halved, doubled and so on. If preparing in advance, don't fill the pastry case until it's time to bake the tart, otherwise the base could go soggy.

This quantity nicely fills a shallow 18-20cm diameter dish, and it's best to line the base with a circle of parchment to make sure the pastry won't stick to the dish.

Christmas Tart - serves 4.  
Oven can go on at around the time the mushrooms start to sautee, at 180C.
Here's what mine looked like - any leftover pastry can be made into decorations and just placed on the top:
200g short pastry - home-made or as a frozen ready-rolled sheet, rolled out a little
          more thinly to make it bake to crispy and light
2 tbsp oil
150g interesting mushrooms, e.g. shiitake, oyster (straight whites OK too), trimmed
          and coarsely sliced
6 tbsp cranberry sauce, drained of loose liquid
1 egg
60ml double cream
150g vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts, halved
80g feta, roughly chopped

1  As above, line the base of the oven-proof dish with parchment, set the pastry
          in it and leave to chill.
2  Heat the oil in a medium pan. Add the mushrooms and sautee gently 4-5 mins,
          stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool.
3  Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the base of the tart.
4  Beat the egg and cream in a small bowl.
5  Scatter the chestnuts, mushrooms and feta evenly over the tart.
6  Pour the egg and cream mixture into the dish, aiming for it to top all of the
          other ingredients and fill any gaps.
7  Bake towards the top of the oven for 25-30mins until nicely browned. Remove
          from the oven and leave for 3 mins or so to finish setting before serving.
Serve with ...
... just a side salad for a light meal, otherwise roasted potatoes, boiled and buttered baby potatoes, broccoli or beans. I don't think this needs a sauce, but it could take a parsley sauce quite nicely.

Canned evaporated milk - maybe 100ml - could replace the cream if necessary. For a herby version, perhaps thyme leaves or snipped basil. Blue cheese could replace feta, and tastes great cooked, but here the feta ends up slightly crunchy which is delightful along with the crispy pastry.