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Cook the week – Chard and Stilton tart

January 22, 2015

farmers market vegetablesDown to cooking for three this week and although I went to the market with a list, when I unpacked I felt more daunted than excited. Maybe because I still felt under the weather with an ongoing pesky bronchial chest thing. The produce at the farmers market is at its peak though and the whole place was thronging – enough to lift anyone’s spirits.

Here’s what I bought: broccoli; chard (sticking out right and left), parsley, coriander, radishes, rocket, beetroot, peas (eaten raw as always), broad beans, eggs, quails eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, kale, carrots and baby celery. And here’s how I cooked this week:

Iranian kebab Friday – Although I’m a confirmed carnivore (roast pork, bacon sandwiches, beef stew, lamb chops….) I don’t ever want a huge portion of it. I’ll fall upon Middle Eastern mezze and but feel defeated when the huge portions of grilled meat arrive. Last October, stumbling off the coach in an obscure district of Dubai, having walked our feet off via the lanes of Deira and Bur Dubai on a food tour with Arva, we sank to the floor of a dark room with a single high up window and lolled on the cushions not quite sure what to expect. The best kebabs I have ever eaten, that’s what. Smokey, succulent, moist, tender, fragrant, savoury, melting, salty, moreish – I don’t have words to describe just how heavenly there were. I can tell you that we ate… and ate… and ate.  Cubes of charred, marinated deliciousness wrapped with a rocket leaf and a soused with fresh lemon juice or shoveled in with buttery rice studded with sharp barberries. I’m telling you all this to explain why, with a fridge full of gorgeous produce and at the end of a total energy-drain week, I followed a pin in Google Maps to a restaurant in Jumeirah 2 to get a take away.  As a huge canal is being built which will turn one section of Dubai into an island, a 14 lane highway has been diverted and will eventually form a bridge over the water, I had to negotiate many diversions and road blocks but it was worth it. Entering Control, not a homage to Joy Division but an Iranian restaurant, I conversed in pigeon Arabic with the Egyptian waiter then followed my dear street food leader’s advice and pointed at the menu ordering lamb lemon tikka, boneless chicken tikka, I asked for zereshk (barberries) in my rice and was understood and then pointed at the picture on her blog and the addictive salty, slightly fragrant drink they call laban appeared. Salad was packed as standard. Very surprisingly bread was not so ask for it if you go there. The only thing missing was the spice of the previous company – well worth a trip round the bollards.


Spicy Saturday – The veg mountain was barely dented today. Confit chilli and garlic slumbered in my fridge from my first trial of Jamie’s best ever spaghetti arrabbiata (from Comfort Food). KP concurred that, yes, it actually was.

Sinful Sunday – I could breathe again. All my energy back was with a vengeance. Life felt so good – I made some pastry and went out for a meeting. Now I could lie to you here and you wouldn’t know any different, but I’m a truthful soul and this illustrates a very important point. That is: if you want to eat healthily, don’t keep unhealthy food in your house. For all those loyal readers who will never visit my local, healthy, cooked-from-scratch blog ever again after reading the next paragraph, it’s been lovely getting to know you. Thanks for coming this far.

Tired and hungry, I returned later from the meeting than expected. KP “What time’s supper?”. Veggie teen, “When’s supper Mum?”. Oven on. Pastry out of fridge. Open the freezer. “I bought fish fingers” says KP. Now as much as I like eating healthily I also can’t abide food waste. I knew that a) this recent purchase, added to existing stuff in the freezer, meant we had a ‘fish finger Matterhorn’ b) there was a bag of frozen chips (another KP purchase) languishing in there. I’m happy to extol the virtues of a good fish finger sandwich now and again (and these were Waitrose) but oven chips are the equivalent of the pappy, white, sliced loaf in the bread world i.e. beyond the pale. In my defence I made a salad to go with our fish fingers and chips.

Tart Monday – The tart planned for yesterday came out ‘lovely’. I used a recipe from River Cottage Every day but used chard instead of leeks. It was meant to be or happenstance as the two huge bunches of chard weighed exactly 500g. Sarah brought round Greg and Lucy Malouf’s beautiful book Middle Eastern vegetarian which I loosely interpreted for a quinoa salad based on veggie teen’s preferences and the veg I had. You toast the quinoa before cooking it and make a lime juice and sumac dressing to stir in at the end. She loved it.

Sausage casserole Tuesday – Dubai is in the grip of rain. Dramatic thunder and lightning at night and we woke up to flooded roads and high drama. It’s a delicious novelty for a few days a year (some year’s have none) and residents adore it. People from hotter climes go round shivering, wrapped in extraordinary layers. Europeans pretend it’s just like back home. It isn’t. You could easily wear flip-flops through the puddles. Getting into the spirit, I made root vegetable casserole from River Cottage Every Day without the parsnip or celeriac but with lots of celery leaves, carrots and potatoes, served with steamed broccoli. Oh I pickled all my radishes too – thanks David Lebovitz.

Leftover Wednesday – As usual it was a day of using up odds and ends, tart, casserole, salads etc. The last broad beans went into a sort of hummus with preserved lemons. Tomatoes roasted into soup. Quails eggs lightly hard-boiled for nibbling. The beetroot reprimanded me from the fridge as I failed dismally at making purple smoothies this week, staying with green and kale instead. There was an urgency for using everything up by Wednesday due to…

Absent Thursday – This was my dinner on Thursday. Not sure what KP and veggie teen ate but I was on staycation. If you follow my social channels you’ll know where… more about this soon.

Here’s the tart (even ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ KP took a slice to work for lunch) – an adaptation and amalgamation of two Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes.

Chard and Stilton tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

For the pastry

  • 250g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50ml cold milk

For the filling

  • 500g chard (2 large bunches)
  • 100g Stilton, grated
  • 3 small eggs
  • 3 small egg yolks
  • 350ml cream (I used whipping)
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor and whizz until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and whizz briefly while pouring the milk in through the tube until the dough just comes together. Alternatively, you could rub the butter into the flour in by hand and add the liquid bit by bit. Turn the pastry out onto a large piece of cling film and form into a thick, flat disc. Wrap up and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board or worktop and line a lightly buttered tart tin. I used a 23 cm loose-bottomed, high sided tin. You can either trim the edges at this stage or cut off the excess after baking. You can put back in the fridge, or freeze, at this stage.
  3. Put a baking tray in the oven and set to 170 C. Line the pastry case with some greaseproof or baking paper and baking beans (dried pulses or pasta will also do). When the oven is heated place the tin on the baking tray and cook the tart case for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the paper and beans, prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork and return for at least 5 minutes or until the base is dried out but not brown. Raise the oven setting to 180 C. Return the baking tray to the oven.
  4. For the filling: wash the chard well, shake off the excess moisture and trim off all the stems. Slice these finely. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and wilt the chard leaves for 2 minutes. Remove the leaves with tongs, drain in a colander and press out as much water as you can with a spatula. When cool enough to handle squeeze any excess moisture out and put to one side. Boil the shredded chard stems for 4 minutes until tender. Drain well in the colander.
  5. Scatter the chard stalks evenly over the pastry case, spread the leaves across the top followed by the grated Stilton. Beat the eggs, egg yolks, cream and seasoning together in a large jug. Open the oven and carefully but quickly (using oven gloves) pull the shelf  with the baking tray half out. Place the tart onto the tray and then pour in the egg mixture. Slide the shelf back in and close the oven door. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is set but not too firm. Leave to rest for 5 minutes out of the oven or serve cold. To remove from the tin, place on a large can and gently push the sides of the tin down. Slide off the base onto a serving dish or platter.

How was your cooking/eating week? Any triumphs? Any oven chip-like disasters? Is my credibility in tatters forever and will you ever speak to me again?

  1. January 22, 2015 10:45 pm

    Your family do eat well 🙂 Lovely tart. Stilton and chard … must have tasted gorgeous.

    • January 23, 2015 11:08 am

      They don’t think so! It’s like being on continual Masterchef in my house.

  2. January 22, 2015 11:49 pm

    Fantastic food, as usual! That savory tart looks and sounds mouthwatering. I love Middle Eastern food.



  3. January 22, 2015 11:50 pm

    Somehow I can’t imagine you eating a fishfinger sandwich 😀

  4. January 23, 2015 11:10 am

    Fish fingers are acceptable as long as they have Sarsons vinegar on them. I have to confess we bought a deep fat fryer, not had one in the house for ten years but Mr GA wanted to make home-made chips. We have experimented relentenlessly with potatoes and ways of cooking with endless research into oils and temperatures. He gave up and bought a bag of frozen ones wish I must admit were wickedly good but wickedly expensive too!! Great review 🙂

  5. January 23, 2015 4:09 pm

    Beautiful combination of chard and Stilton! Please don’t tell me that’s a picture of your terrace looking out onto the sea after the rain – wonderful. N xx

  6. January 23, 2015 5:18 pm

    I really enjoy your ‘Cook The Week’ posts – such great inspiration for my week ahead!

  7. January 23, 2015 7:06 pm

    I love your honesty. Sometimes even when I my pantry is stocked with beautiful ingredients, the bowl of cereal for dinner just seems to happen. I can totally relate. That tart looks wonderful.

  8. January 23, 2015 9:01 pm

    You know what, you do your best and let nature do the rest. Life is just for living 🙂

  9. January 23, 2015 10:55 pm

    Custard pie lady, can your photos get any better?! Honestly.

    I am so happy that you visited Control. I’ve started getting kabab sandwiches there, where I get my roll stuffed with leaves, rice and barberries – and drizzled with mint yoghurt. It’s not on the menu (plain kabab sandwiches are) but the original location is always willing to accommodate my experimental orders.

    I wish I could transform into a street cat and live outside your house. I’d be so well-fed.

  10. January 25, 2015 10:45 pm

    Everyone is allowed to delve into fish finger sandwich heaven once in a while. It’s probably significantly more nutritious that the cheese and cracker feast I inhaled last Wednesday! The tart looks divine – I’ve never cooked with chard, but am intrigued. Got the grandparents out next week, so I think it might be a good one to cook with them!

  11. January 26, 2015 10:41 am

    Even your not so virtuous week sounds pretty darn good! And so does this chard tart. Despite our weather being more tart inclined than yours, I have yet to make one this year. Make that many months now. This has inspired me, Sally. And I hope your chest gets better soon. I am keeping something at bay with twice-daily turmeric, black pepper and cardamom milk. Swear by it.

  12. January 26, 2015 11:18 am

    These posts are brilliant, and I love seeing what you eat and how you felt about the meals. Lovely tart and I am sure I can change this up easily 🙂

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