Bakewell Tart

Living on this grey and green isle has exposed me to the most incredible array of things, not least of which has been to the humble Bakewell tart. It is a traditional English confection which is completely delicious and comes in the form of a rich tart or pudding made from pastry, jam and an eggy almond filling. I love the simplicity of this tart and the satisfaction it delivers is well worth making pastry for. Strawberry jam can be used but this recipe uses raspberry jam for tartness and also calls for lemon zest to lift the richness of the frangipane filling. There are varying recipes, with fillings that are more sponge like and others that are custardy. This once is a luscious affair. It keeps really well for a few days and makes the best tea time treat. It's hard not to smile....

Recipe (Olive Magazine)

125g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
25g castor sugar
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold water

Put all the dry ingredients in a food processor and blitz until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of water, pulse again and add more water if necessary until the dough just comes together. Don't over process it, as this will result in tough pastry. Knead lightly and press down into a thick disc. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll out to about 5mm thick and line a 20cm flan tin. Return to the fridge for a further 30 minutes before baking.

150g butter, softened
150g castor sugar
150g ground almonds
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
zest of a lemon
2-3 tbsp raspberry jam
1 tbsp flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 190C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans or dried beans. Bake blind for 15-20 minutes, remove paper and beans, return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes until the base is cooked through and golden. Remove from the oven and reduce temperature to 180C. To make the filling: cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add egg very gradually to avoid mixture splitting, beating well after each addition. Fold in almonds and lemon zest. Spread jam over the base of the pastry case. If you have a piping bag, fill it with the almond frangipane and pipe the mixture evenly over the jam. Smooth top with a knife. If you don't have a piping bag, cover the jam very carefully with the almond frangipane to avoid the jam from moving towards the sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then sprinkle with the flaked almonds. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden and set. Allow to cool before serving.


Courgette and Aubergine Lasagne

There is something utterly delicious about lasagnes, meat or vegetable. This is a delicate and light alternative to the usual rich and creamy recipes. It has been inspired by my love of melanzane parmigiana and is refreshingly stress free to make. I have used a fresh tomato and garlic sauce, which lifts it from the heavy depths of traditionally cooked ones, and without the need for bechamel there are no lengthly cooking processes. This skinny gem is just layers of grilled vegetables, fresh sauce, grated mozzarella and lasagne sheets. Use good quality egg lasagne sheets, that are as thin as possible, I don't precook them but rather allow the sauce to do the job. Cool for five to ten minutes before serving and enjoy with a salad. 


1-2 large aubergines
2-3 large courgettes
6 medium tomatoes
1 large garlic clove
olive oil
lasagne sheets
mozzarella, grated
sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Slice aubergines and courgettes into about 5mm slices. Place aubergine slices into a colander with some salt and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Brush off salt before using. Heat a heavy pan medium to high, grill courgettes and aubergines until golden and slightly charred. There is no need to use any oil, the heat from the pan will help steam the vegetables and after a couple of minutes the slices should come away easily from the surface. Grill in batches and set aside until needed.  In a food processor, blitz together tomatoes and garlic. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, half a cup of water and some salt and pepper. Blitz again.

Drizzle a baking dish with some olive oil and begin to assemble the lasagne. Start with a layer of tomato sauce, layer with a few slices of aubergine and courgette, sprinkle with mozzarella and add another thin layer of tomato sauce. Then layer with lasagne sheets and repeat process another three times. The top layer should have cheese as the final topping, you can add some extra mozzarella and grated parmesan. Finally grind some pepper over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked through, golden and puffy.


Spinach Tart

This tart is my childhood in a dish, it is also the ultimate show stopping spinach and cheese pie. My mum used to make this on most special occasions and she is still well known for it. The other day I was reminded of this stunner when speaking to her, so I made it as a tribute to some of my most precious memories. Nestling inside a crisp puff pastry shell, the filling is a pillowy mixture of spinach and three cheeses in a bechamel sauce enriched with eggs. The key is to bake it in a hot oven so the base is well cooked and crisp too. You can adjust the amounts of feta and cheddar if you prefer something richer, but the quantities below produce a pretty perfect pie. It is best served hot and goes beautifully with a selection of salads.

Recipe (adapted from Myrna Rosen

500g puff pastry
500g frozen spinach
100g feta cheese, crumbled
250g cottage cheese
100g strong cheddar, grated
250ml double cream
250ml milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
half and onion, grated
salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 225C. Roll out puff pastry to about 5mm thick and use about 300g to line a 25cm deep fluted tin or pie dish. Return to the fridge until needed. Keep the rest of the rolled pastry aside under a damp cloth to stop it from drying out. Defrost spinach by heating it on the stove and cool down rapidly in ice cold water. Remove excess water by squeezing spinach out well and set aside until needed. To make the filling: saute onion in butter until soft in a medium saucepan, add flour and allow to cook until the mixture resembles beach sand. Add milk and cream gradually to make a bechamel sauce, keep whisking to avoid lumps forming. Take off the heat and add eggs very slowly, mixing constantly to avoid scrambling. Return to the heat and allow to thicken. Turn off heat, add all the cheeses and the spinach, mix together well and then season to taste. Check the salt carefully as the cheese will also provide much of the salt. Spoon into the pastry shell and spread evenly. Cut the remaining pastry into strips about an inch wide. Create a lattice over the filling using the pastry strips. Brush with egg yolk. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden and puffy. Serve hot.