Last week there was a birthday in the Keston Kitchen. One of the gifts we bought for Charlotte was the new Ottlenghi book (Plenty) and so it was only fitting that the celebratory meal followed the Ottolenghi theme.
Some of the recipes from Plenty were published in a little booklet that came with the Observer a few months ago and a dish that we had not tried out yet was a tart of caramelised garlic and goats cheese. Julia suggested a delicious looking asparagus, courgette and manori salad to accompany it (minus the manori as this meal was not short on cheese already).
I blind baked the pastry crust and roasted the tomatoes for the salad the evening before but it still took quite a lot of preparation on the night, luckily Matt stepped up and chargrilled all the asparagus and courgettes and the hungry guests were tucking into Julia's wonderful starter of smoked salmon pate while the tart was cooking.
I also made a few individual tarts with spelt flour short crust pastry (low gluten) and although it didn't go quite as well with the flavours of the filling as the puff pastry, Becca, Charl's sister enjoyed it and the leftover spelt flour tarts were polished off by everyone else.
As with most Ottolenghi recipes it was time consuming to make but the extra effort was definitely worth it when it came to the results!
Caramalised Garlic Tart
This recipe says it serves 8 people but it is so good it could easily be finished off by 6 people in our household
375g all-butter puff pastry
3 whole heads of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 tbsp caster sugar
1tsp chopped thyme (plus a few whole sprigs to finish)
salt and black pepper
120g soft, creamy goats cheese
120g, hard, mature goats cheese
2 free range eggs
100ml double cream
100ml creme fraiche
Roll out the chilled pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of a shallow, loose bottomed 28cm tart tin. Line the tin with pastry and then place a circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill with baking beans. Leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Blind bake the case for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper before baking for 5-10 minutes more, until golden. Set aside.
Meanwhile, make the caramalised garlic. Separate and peel all the cloves, put them in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, blanch for 3 minutes and drain. Dry the pan, return the garlic to it along with the oil and fry on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, chopped herbs and 1/4 tsp salt, and simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the cloves are coated in dark syrup.
Break the goats cheese into pieces and scatter in the tart case. Spoon the garlic and syrup evenly over the cheese. Whisk the eggs, creams, half a tsp of salt and some black pepper, then pour over the garlic mix, filling any gaps and making sure the garlic and cheese peep over the top.
Turn the oven to 160C/gas mark 3 and bake the tart for 35-45 minutes, until the filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Take the tart out of its tin and lay a few sprigs of thyme on the top before serving.
Chargrilled Asparagus and Courgette Salad
The below ingredients serve 4-6 people
350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
24 asparagus spears
Course sea salt and black pepper
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g basil leaves
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Start by preparing the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Mix the tomatoes with 3 tbsp of olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Spread the out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, skin side down. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until semi-dried. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Trim the woody base of the asparagus and blanch for 4 minutes in plenty of boiling water. Drain and refresh under cold water, making sure the spears are completely cold. Drain well again, then transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tbsp of the remaining oil and some salt and pepper.
Slice the courgettes very thinly lengthwise, using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Mix with 1 tsbp of the olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave there for a few minutes. It should be very hot. grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning them over after about a minute. You want to get nice char marks on all sides. Remove and leave to cool.
To make the basil oil, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
To assemble, arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layers on a flat serving plate. Build the salad up whilst showing all the individual components. Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like and serve.
Best enjoyed around halloween - with all the garlic it is guaranteed to keep any vampires at bay!
Happy Birthday Charlotte