Saturday, 17 September 2011

Savoury Tarts

Surprise surprise, this blog is not dead yet!
It's been a bit inactive, for sure, but now that autumn is crawling in I'll cook and post more frequently.
It's been a busy summer and now it's being a busy September and this weekend is intended to be dedicated to relaxing. So today I thought I'd do some baking and started by making a savoury tart with feta, cherry tomatoes and olives. I had made this same tart a couple of months ago, only that the main ingredients of the filling were Swiss Chard and Gruyere instead and for a first attempt it had turned out to be a success!

On another note, I'd like to share with you a couple of finds. First of all, for those who live in London and like eating out in restaurants (I imagine most), I came across this blog in which the author reviews London restaurants and gives minutely detailed accounts of his visits and dishes. I was quite excited I discovered this because the author is quite clearly a pro (just read his guide to steaks. awesome!) and even though one can have a different opinion on some topics, it's professionally written and gives a great insight. All in all, I'd say it's a great guide and you can see most of London's most buzzed about restaurants featured on his list.

The second thing that got me excited this week is something for those who work around the area of Trafalgar square/ Covent Garden (or those who like going there): A relatively new cafe with one of the best-tasting coffees in town and an amazing atmosphere. The place is decorated in shabby chic style, it has a big bar with mirrors behind it bistro-like, a big communal table at the end of the room, a glass dome above it from where the light comes in, lovely friendly hipster staff (without being pushy though) and jazz music playing in the background. I was so excited to stumble on it as there is hardly a sophisticated place around the area where everything is mainly on the touristic side of things. Oh, I forgot to say that it's located on St Martin's lane, next to the Coliseum theatre and it's called Notes. And that they also have a collection of jazz and classical music CDs available for sale, as well as DVDs. Doesn't all that sound great? And the place has been there for almost a year without me knowing it..
Anyway, as well as being a cafe (fantastic flat white served there) and having some lunch dishes and pastries, in the evening it becomes a wine bar with a variety of cheeses and charcuterie available for accompanying.

Now back to the recipe and first the ingredients:

For the shortcrust pastry:
175 gr plain four
90 gr butter
about 2 tbs cold water
tin of 23cm diameter

For the filling:
You can use your imagination and customise the filling to your liking or mood so feel free to improvise combining your favourite ingredients and flavours.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt & pepper
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2-3 tbs olive oil
180 gr crumbled feta
oregano or thyme
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
a handful of sliced olives
or, replace the last 5 ingredients with:
1 bunch of Swiss Chard, washed and patted dry
180 gr of any cheese like Gruyere or goat's

First I made the pastry by tipping the flour into a bowl and rubbing the butter with my fingertips. I added water to bind it to a soft dough and wrapped it in cling film and left it in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
Then I rolled out the pastry with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface and lined the tin. I pricked the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and then covered/lined the pastry shell with greaseproof paper and filled it with ceramic baking beans (otherwise the pastry will puff and will not remain flat).

Then I put the tin in the oven and baked it for 15-20 minutes at 220, removing the paper and beans for the last 10 minutes.

Then I started working on the filling, first by gently frying the onion in some olive oil until translucent.
Then, in a bowl, I combined the beaten eggs and milk, salt and pepper. I layered the onion on the bottom of the pastry base, then poured over it the egg/milk mixture and added the feta, cherry tomatoes and olives on top. I also sprinkled some oregano over. If you do this with Swiss Chard (or spinach or any other vegetable of this kind), you will need to saute it with the onions first.

This time I put some foil underneath my tin because my tin has a removable bottom and I've learnt my lesson well. This way, even if it drips, it has somewhere to go.

I baked it at 175-200 for about 30-40 minutes, until the tart started to get a golden colour and the custard was cooked.

And here is what I did while I waited for it to be baked. Although not as glamorous as having wine, I had had a glass or two every night the past 4 nights (consecutively...) so I thought I'd give my liver a rest.

Lastly, I'd like to show you something I'm proud of - proud because in the 3 weeks I've had it, it still hasn't shown any signs of dying - at all!! So it looks like I'm taking good care of it and I've been using it in cooking a lot. Now a fireplace may be an unlikely place for a pot of chilli peppers but I actually quite like it there. And speaking of chilli peppers, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers are coming to the UK in November as part of their tour and I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing them if I can. I've tried to buy tickets already via Ticketmaster but there seems to be some error as it won't let me. Perhaps sold out?I'll keep trying!


  1. Mmmm... a new recipy!! Very nice! I have to say I really liked the chilli peppers :)!! They look really nice by the fireplace! I'm trying to do the same, I have a basil plant now but is almost dying :P... probably I don't take a good care of it...!!

  2. I've tried with Basil before but it just keeps dying on me. My dad said it's very difficult to keep Basil as the roots tend to get fungus and eventually the plant dries out. So rest assured, it's not you :-)

  3. Nice recipe Roula,
    Hope we wont have to wait much longer for the next one, keep them coming ;)
    Ill try to make that one asap!

    Btw im preety sure it was evi's fault that the basil died probably cause she goes on trips all the time and the plant remains without water, so dont try to make her feel better, lol

  4. Hey, thanks. Let me know if you do make it. Perhaps I could make it for you when I come to visit at Christmas.
    I have been quite bad at posting lately but things are pretty hectic. I have a great chocolate chip cookie recipe to share though and should upload it very soon!
    I'm also pretty sure that Evi had something to do with the plant dying...;P