Squash and Blue Cheese Tart
As you can tell from the sly hint of a bar of Galaxy Cookie Crumble in this photo, this was very much a night for comfort food.
I was nervous about this one, because I really can't stand making pastry. Not quite true - I can't stand the 50% success rate I have with hand-making shortcrust, which also means a 50% failure rate because - well, pastry will always find a "because". "Because" the kitchen's too warm, "because" I worked it too hard, "because it didn't chill for long enough, "because" the day had a "Y" in it...
In fact, the last time I made pastry (for a gorgeous beetroot and sorrel tart that I will one day post), I shouted and swore so much at the dough that my boyfriend meekly "offered" to go and creche himself in the pub "to get out of my hair".
But as my goodbye present from my law firm, I received a John Lewis voucher and in the interests of not scaring the boyfriend off, - I'm holding my hands up - I bought a food processor. For about £50 I will now forever (or at least until the end of the two-year warranty) be able to turn out glorious, uncomplaining pastry.
That said, I used to get deeply frustrated with recipes that only gave instructions for making pastry with a food processor. So whilst I might have cheated, I've set out the only instructions for hand-making the stuff that I've ever found to work.
And if you really can't be bothered? Just picked up that pack of Jus-Rol and save yourself the tears.
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, diced and kept in the fridge until use
3 tbsp milk, cold
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, sliced
1tsp dried thyme
100g squash, chopped (not peeled)
100g blue cheese
100 ml double cream
If making pastry in a food processor:
Pulse flour and 1tsp salt until just combined.
Add the cubed cold butter and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add cold milk 1 tbsp at a time until a rough dough starts to form.
Quickly tip out onto baking parchment, shape into a disc, wrap in parchment, chill for 30 mins.
If making pastry by hand:
Make sure your hands are cold - run them under the cold tap.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Stir in with a metal spoon.
Very quickly and never leaving your hands in the mixture for more than a couple of seconds, rub in the butter until it ressembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in a tbsp of milk and using your finger tips, start to shape it into a dough.
Do not knead, but add more milk as required. It must not get too wet.
Tip onto baking parchment, shape into a disc, wrap and chill for 30 mins.
Meanwhile, saute shallot and garlic.
Roast squash with 1tbsp olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
Beat eggs with cream and ½ blue cheese with nutmeg and several good grinds of black pepper.
Blind bake the case for 15 mins.
Uncover and bake for 5 mins.
Cool the case. Then pour in cream/shallot mix.
Arrange squash with the rest of the blue cheese.
Bake until just set, allow to rest for 4 mins before serving (Galaxy Cookie Crumble optional but recommended).