Use very cold butter when making the pastry for a crispy result
Preparation Time 60 mins
Cooking Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hours 40 mins
For the pastry:
175g plain flour
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp cracked black pepper
a pinch of salt
100g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk — keep the white to seal the pastry
For the filling:
150g onion, peeled and finely diced
a knob of butter
100g soft goat's cheeses, cut into small pieces
100g comté or gouda cheese, grated
200mls crème fraîche
3 eggs, lightly beaten
a handful of peas
sprigs of herbs
baby green leaves such as lettuces and spinach
Mix the salt, pepper and nutmeg into the flour and rub in the butter until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Add the yolk and bring the pastry together. Place it into the fridge until it has firmed up — it will take at least an hour.
Preheat your oven to 200°C and grease and line a 9-inch tart case.
Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a disk about 14 cm in diameter. Sit this gently into your prepared tin. Pinch the sides so it fits snugly. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and parchment and brush the pastry with the egg white. Place back into the oven for another five minutes without any parchment or beans on top, then set it aside.
To make the filling, sauté the onions in the butter until they are completely translucent. It is worth taking your time here as cooking them slowly will make them sweeter. Season the onions and set aside.
Whisk the crème fraîche, cream and eggs.
Scoop the onion and goat's cheese into the pastry base. Pour the crème fraîche filling on top and sprinkle it with the gouda. Very gently slide this into your oven. Lower the heat to 180°C.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the centre is set but not fully firm. Allow to cool in the tin. You can either serve it warm or cold.
Decorate it with the peas, flowers and baby lettuce leaves to make a spring garden.
Theis delicate bake with tender asparagus stems, a mixture of cheese, fresh herbs and a hint of mustard is a lunchtime delight
Preparation Time 15 mins
Cooking Time 18 mins
Total Time 33 mins
250g puff pastry
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
dash of olive oil
small tsp Dijon mustard
bunch of chives, finely chopped
bunch of parsley, finely chopped
100g Parmesan, grated
bunch of asparagus, trimmed and blanched in boiling water
Heat your oven to 200°C and cover a baking tray in parchment.
Roll the pastry to about 6 x 12inch, in as neat a rectangle as possible. Place it on the baking tray and prick it all over with a fork. Lightly pinch the sides in to form a shallow crust. Brush the sides of the tart with the egg yolk and bake for 12 minutes.
While it is baking, mix the Ricotta, Mascarpone, mustard and herbs together with half of the grated cheese. Season to taste.
Press down the centre of the pastry, if it has risen, and fill with the cheese mixture. Lay the asparagus stems across the tart. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan and bake for 18 minutes.
Swede and leek bake
The perfect cheesy comfort dish with delicate hints of sage, this vegetable bake is more than worth the wait
Preparation Time 10 mins
Cooking Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hours 5 mins
1 medium swede (800g), peeled
2 medium leeks, green parts discarded
100g good strong cheddar
2 sage leaves
75ml white wine
Slice the leeks diagonally into ½ inch rounds and cut the peeled swede into medium sized chunks.
Preheat the oven 180°C.
Melt 30g of butter in a large frying pan and fry the leeks on a medium heat for around 10 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper and add the sage leaves and white wine. Cook for a further 2 minutes until the wine has mostly evaporated. Set aside.
Place the swede in a steamer over a pan of boiling water and cook for around 30 minutes until soft.
Alternatively, you can boil the swede and drain the water off when the swede is cooked. If you are using the boiling in water method then be very careful about over boiling the swede as they will fall apart and get water logged very quickly.
Mash the swede with the rest of the butter and season will a good pinch of sea salt and pepper.
Fold in the leeks and spoon into a medium casserole dish.
Cover in the grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese has gotten very golden brown. Add a splash of Worcester sauce before placing in the oven if you like that sort of thing, which we definitely do.
Chicken and mushroom humble pie recipe
You can make this dish vegetarian by swapping the chicken for a similar meat substitute.
Preparation Time 20 mins
Cooking Time 35 mins
Total Time 55 mins
1tbsp olive or vegetable oil
115g frozen chopped onions
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2tbsp plain flour
240ml chicken stock
1tsp wholegrain mustard
1 sheet pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onions and chicken pieces and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and the chicken is sealed. Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and stir to combine with the chicken and onions, then cook, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms have released all their water.
Add the flour to the pan and stir to coat the chicken and vegetables, then pour in the chicken stock and stir well. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring and thickening the sauce as you do, then bring the mixture to the boil, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 10–15 minutes, until thickened, then stir through the mustard and season well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
If you're cooking now… Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Pour the pie filling into a large, ovenproof baking dish smaller than the sheet of pastry, then lay the pastry over the top of the filling and tuck in the edges. Brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg, then transfer the pie to the oven for 30–35 minutes, until golden and well risen. Cut into generous wedges and serve hot with mash and veg alongside, if you like.
If you're making ahead to freeze… Leave the filling mixture to cool to room temperature, then ladle into a large, labelled freezer bag and freeze flat with the sheet of pastry alongside for up to three months.
Then… Remove the pie filling and pastry sheet from the freezer and leave to defrost in the fridge, ideally overnight. Once defrosted, preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and assemble, cook and serve the pie in the same way described above.
Slow roast shoulder of spring lamb with wild garlic aioli and fresh mint chutney
When wild garlic is not in season, double the quantity of parsley, it will still be delicious
Preparation Time 20 mins
Cooking Time 3 hours 0 mins
Total Time 3 hours 20 mins
1 whole shoulder of spring lamb on the bone, weighing approximately 3.6kg (8lb)
Maldon sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
For the aioli:
Homemade mayo or good quality mayonnaise
1-4 cloves of garlic, depending on size
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons chopped wild garlic leaves (Allium ursinum)
4 -6 tablespoons lamb cooking juices
For the chutney:
1 large cooking apple (we use Grenadier or Bramley Seedling), peeled and cored
a large handful of fresh mint leaves, Spearmint or Bowles mint
50g (2oz) onions
20-50g (1-2oz) castor sugar (depending on tartness of apple)
salt and cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Place the lamb shoulder in a wide roasting tin or oven tray with the skin side up. Score the skin to encourage the fat to run out during the cooking and to crisp up the skin. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Place in a roasting tin, transfer to the oven and roast for 30 minutes before turning the temperature down to 160°C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for a further 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the meat is soft and succulent and will lift off the bones.
Mix the crushed garlic into the mayonnaise for the aioli. Finally add the chopped parsley and wild garlic. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.
Next make the fresh mint chutney. Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor, season with salt and a little cayenne pepper. Cover and keep cool.
To test if the lamb is cooked to a melting tenderness, pull the shank bone and it and some of the meat should come away easily from the bone.
When the lamb is cooked, remove from the oven. There will be plenty of fatty cooking juices. Strain these through a sieve into a bowl. Keep the lamb warm in the oven with the temperature reduced to 100°C/200°F/Gas Mark ¼.
When the fat has risen to the surface of the lamb cooking juices, skim carefully and thoroughly with a spoon.
Thin out the garlic mayonnaise with 4-6 tablespoons of the degreased juice to achieve a consistency similar to softly whipped cream or in other words the mayonnaise should now just lightly coat the back of a spoon. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Bring the remaining juices to a simmer and taste and correct seasoning.
To serve the lamb, a tongs or serving fork and spoon are the best implements to remove the meat from the bones. Prise largish pieces off the bones and serve on hot plates with some of the hot cooking juices, aoili and the chutney drizzled over the top…