I recently posted a recipe for a fantastic quiche using fresh garlic. This was delicious but unfortunately the season for fresh garlic is pretty short. So, I was on the lookout for a similar recipe that I could make all year round. While perusing the Irish Times a few weeks ago, I came across this tart/quiche in Domini Kemp’s column. She presents a recipe adapted from one by Yotam Ottolenghi, which I, in turn, have adapted slightly to suit the flan dishes I had available. The results were great and I look forward to being able to enjoy this tart throughout the year. Ottolenghi’s recipe uses less balsamic, which I would do next time too, as it keeps the garlic more golden than dark.
This recipe is for a 20cm dish. Just double the quantities for 28cm. You can of course make your own puff pastry if you’re that way inclined but I used Jus-Rol. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use shortcrust, in which case there’s less excuse not to make it yourself!
There’s a little bit of work involved but you can do each stage separately; so don’t let that put you off trying this great dish.
Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 10 mins + 20 mins
Cooking: 30 mins + 20 mins + 30 mins
|Puff pastry (defrosted but still cold)
Garlic (cloves separated and peeled)
Chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc)
Goat’s cheese (mix hard and soft if you can)
Large eggs (the best you can get)
20cm quiche dish about 3cm deep
Baking beans or similar
First we need to make the pastry base, which can be be done ahead of time. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface so that it is big enough to line the base and sides of the quiche dish with a margin to allow for shrinkage. Prick the base all over with a fork. If you have time place in the fridge for 20 minutes of so. Trim the excess pastry. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and pour in the baking beans. Use as many as will fit, as otherwise the base will rise. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and continue to bake for a further 5 minutes to let the base crisp up. Set aside to cool. Don’t worry if the base has risen a little: you can carefully trim around the edge and press it down gently later.
When you’re ready to finish off the dish, set the oven to warm at 160°C. Put the olive oil in a small frying pan over a low heat and add the garlic cloves. Let them gently sweat for about 10 minutes. Move them around the pan to stop them colouring. Then add the sugar, balsamic and water. Increase the heat and let the mixture reduce. After about 10 minutes add the chopped herbs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the liquid has turned syrupy, the garlic should be soft and have a nice dark colour from the balsamic. In the meantime, dice the cheese and sprinkle over the pastry base. Crack the eggs and mix with the crème fraîche to form a sort of custard. Sprinkle the garlic cloves evenly over the cheese along with a little of the pan syrup. Move the dish to near the oven and pour in the eggs and crème fraîche. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the custard has set.
Let cool a little before serving, as this gives the flavour a chance to develop. Enjoy with a green salad.
The classic combination of tomatoes and eggs can be found all over the world. This dish has a North African accent with the addition of cumin. Apparently it originates in Tunisa, but is common all across North Africa and in Israel, to where it was brought by Tunisian Jews. I’ve seen a very similar dish called Persian Eggs, so who knows where it really comes from. Who cares either, since it tastes so good. It’s quick and easy to prepare, which makes it great for mid-week dinner. Try to use really ripe tomatoes: it makes all the difference. The flavours are great in the winter too but it’s very difficult to get hold of ripe tomatoes, so you can use good tinned tomatoes.
Makes: 4 portions
|Tomatoes or 3 tins of whole plum tomatoes
Red pepper (optional)
Cumin (pre-ground is OK too)
Bird’s eye chilli (optional)
Sugar (depending on ripeness of tomatoes)
Good olive oil
25cm frying pan and lid
Wash the tomatoes. Cut into quarters and scoop out the seeds, leaving just the flesh. Cut each quarter in half again. Half the onions and slice quite thinly. Slice the red pepper if using. Chop the garlic roughly and break up the bird’s eye chilli with the back of a knife.
If using tinned tomatoes don’t include all the juice as the dish will be too runny.
Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil and place on a medium to low heat. When the oil is hot add the onions and chilli (if using), followed a couple of minutes later by the garlic and the red pepper if using. Fry gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just starting to colour. In the meantime, roast the cumin lightly, grind coarsely and add to the pan just as the onions are ready.
Add the tomatoes and a spoon of sugar. Adjust the seasoning. Mix a little to distribute the ingredients equally. Cook gently for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes are soft but not mush. Make a small well near the edge of the pan and break the first egg into it. Repeat around the pan with the other eggs. Crack a little black pepper on each. Place the lid on the pan to help the eggs poach. After about 3 minutes the whites should be set and the yolks still runny, which is the way we like them.
Sprinke with some chopped parsely and serve straight from the pan with some crusty white bread to mop up the juices.
Tortilla, or Spanish omelette, is a staple in any decent tapas bar. The egg and potato mix flavoured with the sweet onions is one of my favourite foods. As so often, the simple things are best. There is a little bit of work involved but effort is worth it and the omelette can be kept for several days in the fridge, if you can resist the temptation to scoff it all in one sitting. Practically every Spaniard will have an opinion on how to make the perfect tortilla. Opinon is split on the role of the onions. Some use only the onion-flavoured oil: others incorporate the onions in the omelette. I fall into the latter camp. The Spanish say floury potatoes are best but I can only assume they have something very different in mind when they say floury than we Irish do. I find any potato that would boil on the dry side suitable and most often use a variety such as Exquisa, which are also small. The amount of potato might seem excessive, but as long as they fit in the pan that’s OK: the egg really serves to bind everthing together.
Makes: 6 tapas portions
Cooking: 20mins + 10mins + 10mins
|Good olive oil
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Half the peeled onions lengthways and then slice quite thinly and evenly. Put the olive oil to heat over a medium ring. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until golden, stirring every now and then. Don’t let them burn. When ready separate the onions from the oil using a sieve and reserve the oil. Next on to the potatoes. Depending on your potatoes you may need to peel them. Then cut into small pieces about the size of the end of your thumb and about 5mm thick. Deep fry the potato pieces at a medium temperature (about 140ºC), lifting them out just as they start to turn golden along the edges. Don’t turn them into French fries! Remove the excess oil with some kitchen paper.
We’re now ready to make the tortilla. The amounts in this recipe are intended for a 20cm frying pan, which should be heavy-based and well seasoned or non-stick. If you use a 25cm pan you’ll need to add 50% to all the ingredients. You have to get the pan quite hot to start and then reduce the heat. This can be tricky if you have an electric hob, so it’s probably easiest to use two rings, one hot, one low to medium. The tortilla also needs to be turned during cooking and you will need a flat plate comfortably bigger than pan for this. It pays to be organised for this dish.
Crack the eggs into a clean bowl. Add the potatoes and onions, if using, along with salt and pepper. Mix well using a fork. Place the pan on the hotter ring and add enough of the reserved olive oil to coat the pan. When the pan is hot, mix the eggs again with the fork and tip into the pan. Move the pan to the low ring. After 3 or 4 minutes the underside should be cooked nicely. Take a peek and it should be golden. The top will still be a little runny. The tortilla is now ready to be turned. This is the only tricky part of the dish. Keep your strong hand for the pan. Place the plate upside down on the pan, with the rim of the plate near where the handle joins the pan. Hold the pan with your strong hand and press gently but firmly on the plate. Lift the pan up from the stove. Now, in one quick movement turn the assembly upside down and lift away the pan. The tortilla should now be sitting on the plate along with a little uncooked egg mixture.
Wipe out the pan and return to the hotter ring, adding enough oil to coat. When hot, slide the tortilla from the plate back into the pan, letting the uncooked egg in first. Move the pan to the low ring and let the tortilla finish cooking. Wipe the dinner plate clean and turn out the finished tortilla as before. Tortilla tastes best when eaten at room temperature.