To be honest i have been a little despondent with our garden due to change in weather - it just doesn't have quite the same appeal when it is wet and overcast. However this is the time of the year when all the hard work (mainly my husbands) pays off and we seem to have broccoli sprouting all over the place. Thankfully we all adore this sensational vegetable and double thankfully it has many uses. This particular tart is delicious and flexible i have added ham, sauteed bacon, parmesan or feta cheese and even plonked little cherry tomatoes on the surface which when baked caramelise a little and burst!
Just a quick word on the pastry - it is all thanks to Maggie Beer. If you haven't made this incredibly flaky, puffy, and totally irresistible pastry yet, then it is definitely a recipe worthy of keeping. It can be used for pies and equally great for sweets.
broccoli and cheddar tart
Olive oil, for brushing tin
Sour cream pastry (thanks to Maggie Beer)
250g plain flour
200g chilled unsalted butter, cubed
120 ml sour cream
8 whole free-range eggs
butter for cooking
1 -2 heads broccoli, cut into small florets – including stalks
2 leeks or 1 onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp chives, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh thyme, chervil or oregano leaves, chopped finely
100g cheddar (vintage), grated
1 cup cream
1 ¼ cup full fat milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream pastry method: process flour and butter in a food processor until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
With the motor running, gradually add about two-thirds of the sour cream, then add just enough of the remaining sour cream to help the pastry come together to form a soft ball. Divide in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.
Grease a 24cm spring form tin with olive oil. Roll out pastry (I do mine between two sheets of grease-proof paper) until 3mm thick and line the pan. Bring the pastry up past the rim to allow for some shrinkage when it cooks.
Prick the pastry base with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with dried beans or pastry weights and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Tart method: Preheat oven to 220C
Bake the pastry shell for 12 minutes or until just lightly coloured. Remove the foil and weights and bake for another 15 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and looks dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Reduce oven to 150C
Whilst the pastry is baking, bring a suitable size pot (to hold broccoli) of salted water to the boil. Blanch the broccoli until tender (about 2-3 minutes) and refresh under cold water. Drain.
Heat a large knob of butter in a fry pan over medium heat and the leeks/onions along with the thyme (if using) and cook gently until the leeks/onions are soft and sweet. Add the broccoli and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Combine all the ingredients well and set aside.
Whisk the eggs with the cream and the milk; add a little salt, the chives and any other herbs you may like to use. Add a couple of grinds of pepper, and whisk to combine.
Scatter the leek and broccoli mixture over the base of the tart shell, then pour over the egg mixture, and top with grated cheese.
Bake the tart for 45-60 minutes or until the custard sets. Cool for about 10 minutes, then serve. It is great hot or cold and will last in fridge for 2 days!