Saturday, 18 May 2013

Asparagus Tarts

Asparagus is in season!! Although who knows, it's not really been springtime yet (not in Huddersfield anyway) so for all we know it might all be a trick and they've brought last year's lot out of the freezer.

These tarts are very loosely based on a recipe from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries II, which you can buy here.

They look quite pretty for how ridiculously easy they are - they use ready made puff pastry so minimal effort - ideal with a salad as a summery dinner.

Makes 4 tarts

What you need

A bunch of slender asparagus spears - 8 spears for 4 tarts
a 375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
100ml double cream
a few sprigs lemon thyme - leaves only
40g grated mature cheddar or 'parmesan'
1 egg, beaten

What to do

First, cook the asparagus. Snap off any woody stems and get some lightly salted water boiling. Plop the asparagus in - they should only need 5 minutes. Have a bowl of icy cold water waiting to immediately plunge the asparagus into once you've drained them - this will keep them nice and fresh and green-looking! It's of course fine if they sit there getting cold as they'll go back in the oven anyway.

Unroll the puff pastry from the packet, and slice vertically into 4. Score a border about a centimetre away from the edge, without cutting all the way through. Egg wash it if you like, I never do - I always feel like it's a bit of a waste of an egg! Lay the pastry out on a non-stick baking tray and put in the oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes, just to start crisping the pastry before you add your filling.

While that's in the oven, stir together the cream, grated cheese and lemon thyme leaves, with salt and pepper to season.

When your pastry comes out from its first stint in the oven, lay the asparagus spears on - I did two per tart. Spoon over the cheese mixture, distributing evenly between the tarts. Return to the oven for a final 10 minutes, until the filling is starting to brown and the pastry is crisp.

Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Creamy Stuffed Peppers

This is ideal for when you're doing the what's-in-the-fridge maths of an evening, as you can pretty much add anything you feel like adding. Those tomatoes that have seen better days, the bunch of spring onions that are starting to shrivel - whap them in and they'll be delicious.

If you can't get the pointy Romano peppers then normal ones are fine, just the Romano ones are sweeter. I teamed with some sautéed potatoes and salad.

Serves 2

What you need

1 tbsp olive oil
2 pointed Romano peppers
a bunch of spring onions, chopped
a finely chopped green chilli
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic
a splash of white wine
2 tbsp cous cous
2 tbsp stock
3 tbsp double cream
50g grated hard cheese

What to do

First, prepare the peppers by halving and de-seeding them. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Fry the chopped spring onions, chilli, tomatoes and garlic over a medium heat until softened and just starting to brown.

Stir in the cous cous, the stock and the wine and remove from the heat, covering the pan with a lid. Leave lidded for around 5 minutes to allow the cous cous to absorb the liquid, then stir in a tablespoon of the cream.

Place the pepper halves in a gratin dish and fill them with the cous cous mixture. Drizzle over the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream, and sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melty and browning.