Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pie for a Guy

Perhaps this is too much of a generalisation but I've rarely met a guy who doesn't like pies/tarts or anything with pastry in it. There's probably something about the combination of crusty pastry and oozing filling that makes for a sublime 'party in your mouth' (I got this off one of the celebrity chefs, Jason Roberts, on ReadySteadyCook...yes one of those cooking programmes I catch over here).


A, being a true Aussie at heart, loves pies much to my horror ("Sweetie, there's a ton of FAT in that meat pie you're chowing down..."). I'm not a big fan of pastry, both making it or eating it. Making it - it always seems that the weather in Singapore is never condusive to making it although my efforts here have met more success. Eating it - I find that most commercial pies have way too much pastry, making for a tough chewing experience and thenafter, sitting like a lump of lard in your tummy.

I've always wished I had a light hand with pastry; so do most cooks I know. I recall back in school days, my classmates in the cooking class would shudder with horror when we learnt that the lesson for that day was "Sausage Rolls" or "Strawberry Pie" or anything related to pastry. These days, I've taken a more relaxed approach to making pastry instead of stressing over getting the dough to bind and find that this seems to be the best way to making a successful pie! Probably because one doesn't handle the dough as much!

Looking back on my posts, I've done a whole gamut of cakes, biscuits and the likes but very little pastry of late. So I thought it was time to change that and set aside an afternoon to make a Roast Tomato, Bacon and Spinach Tart, one of my preferred choices at cafes I frequent. Made well, this tart will be a nice light lunch for hot afternoons when you don't feel like cooking! This is a slight modification from the recipe in one of my reliable cookbooks, Everyday Cooking.




Roast Tomato, Bacon and Spinach Tart (serves 8)

Ingredients
:

1 x 25cm Shortcrust pastry shell (using your own recipe or ready-made)
4 Roma tomatoes
oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 onion, diced
6 bacon slices, diced
4 eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) cream
3 tbsp grated parmigiano
chopped parsley
80g spinach, blanched and chopped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, sprinkled over the cooked spinach

Method
:
1. Preheat oven to 180'C.
2. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and place on a baking tray. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli (if using). Roast in a preheated oven for 20 - 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and golden brown.
3. Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add a generous splash of oil, the onion and bacon. Cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often to prevent the bacon from catching.
4. Whisk the eggs together with the cream, grated parmigiano, parsley, spinach and salt and pepper.
5. Arrange the tomato wedges in the base of the cooked pastry shell, add the onion and pancetta mix and pour in the egg custard.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the egg custard is set.

Some comments:
  • The shortcrust pastry should be blind-baked before the fillings are added. To prevent the egg custard from seeping into the pastry and toughening it, brush the shortcrust pastry with egg yolk before blind baking to seal. This may be repeated once during the baking process.
  • You'll probably have pastry left over, as with the fillings. Don't waste them - make mini tartlets by using a muffin pan as your base instead!

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