Little leek tarts
These little tarts can be served as a first course or with roast meat. Unpackaged leeks seem to be going out of favour; people turn to the trimmed, plasticwrapped kind. I think this is a mistake. Earthy, green-topped leeks usually taste better because they have come straight from the field without washing and delay.
Prep 10 min Cook 50 min Serves 6-8
2 heaped tbsp butter 1 kg leeks, dark-green part removed, halved, washed and chopped Salt and black pepper 2-3 tbsp single cream 1 pack ready-made puff pastry Wensleydale or cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 beaten egg (optional)
Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan over a low heat and tip in the leeks. Cover tightly and stew slowly so that the leeks gradually melt to softness. Check after 1015 minutes and remove the lid if the leeks have given off a lot of liquid.
Leave to cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The leeks must not stick or colour; they should end up moist, but not wet. By stirring, you can concentrate all the flavour so that nothing has to be drained away.
Season the leeks and liquidise them with just enough cream to make a puree. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick – enough to be able to cut 24 circles large enough to fit into tart tins. Divide the puree between them. Sprinkle a teaspoon of grated cheese over each. You can, if you like, roll out the pastry trimmings and cut out lids for some or all of the tarts, or leave them uncovered.
If you do cover them, brush them with the beaten egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tarts are lightly browned and puffed up. Serve at once.
All recipes taken from Jane Grigson’s English Food (Penguin)