A Picnic on Public Transport

Asparagus and Potato Tart

Tarted Up Leftovers

The Big Guy and I are seasoned travellers. If you live in a different country from either of your families, you have to get used to the rhythm of packing, transport, and departure times. Where we can, we take the train; it has a much better rhythm – with a continuity of movement, both in terms of the motion of the carriages, and because there is no hanging about in a departure lounge, or being forced through an array of harshly lit shops. The train gets you where you need to be without fuss; you have space to sit comfortably and to move around.

One of the things that we haven’t got the rhythm of is taking our own food. Although, I do know exactly where all the best places to buy food along the journey are. We have recently returned from one such trip abroad, although this time, we had a leg of the journey on a coach. It was OK, but I will be glad if they ever sort out the troubles on trains run by a certain rail company, which has been unable to run for far too long now.

We decided that we should be better prepared for this journey. Since our usual rhythm was interrupted, I could not guarantee getting to my favourite pit stops. I also had a few ingredients in the fridge that wouldn’t last until we returned. So, the obvious choice was to make something to take with us. A picnic, of sorts.

I had a little of the salad, some cream and some eggs that needed using up from the dinner I made for friends, and a few last sprigs of chervil. As so often happens, the day before I was leaving I woke up and knew that these would be perfect in a tart, with some goat’s cheese. We could have some for dinner that evening, and then we could take the rest as a picnic for the coach the next day.

Like many of the best laid plans, the idea for a nice goat cheese went a bit awry. It was a bank holiday, and none of the usual shops were open, so I had to dispatch the Big Guy to the supermarket. Unfortunately, all they had in the way of goat cheese was some presliced stuff, that could have been any generic cheese. It certainly never has the tang of goat that I was looking for in this dish. Fortunately, he returned with some sharp, crumbly feta instead. This was a much better option, it needed to match the asparagus.

The tart was tasty, filling and survived the journey. So did the salad we had with it, because we dressed it en route from a small jar. This is my top tip for picnic salads – if you dress it before you travel, the salad will cook in the acid, and you will be left with a container full of flaccid disappointment.

Cheese Please blog badgeFour Seasons Food Challenge Chez Foti & Delicieux

I know I have entered my dishes into a lot of blog hops lately, but I couldn’t resist entering this recipe into the inaugural Cheese Please Challenge, hosted by Fromage Homage. Then I heard about the inaugural Four Seasons Food, dreamed up by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Chez Foti. This dish is so apt for both.

This was my perfect public transport picnic, and I didn’t waste anything in my fridge. I’d love to hear what appears on your picnic blanket, or even coach seat when you make food for on the go.

Recipe: Asparagus and Potato Tart

Ingredients

For the Pastry: 

100 g plain flour

50 g cold salted butter

Really good grinding of black pepper

1 egg yolk

For the Filling:

100 ml cream

4 eggs

small bunch chervil, very finely chopped

100 g of leftover asparagus salad, or 3-4 small salad potatoes and 5 asparagus spears cooked until just tender, and cut into 5 cm chunks

2 spring onions, sliced finely

90 g feta cheese

Method

Season the flour. I wanted this pastry to taste peppery, the rest of the tart can hold its own. Don’t be afraid of adding  more pepper than you think.

Rub the cold butter (it needs to be fridge temperature) into the seasoned flour until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg yolk and bring together into a dough. If you need to, you can add a little bit of cold milk to make it all come together. Add a splash at a time.

Form a disc with the dough, and cover it with cling film or foil, and leave it to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes to an hour.

Heat the oven to 200°C. Roll the pastry out thinly on a floured surface. Carefully line a greased flan case with the pastry, and press into the sides or fluting with a small offcut of pastry in a ball, to avoid any tears or holes, you don’t want the filling to leak and burn on the bottom.

Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper, and add a good layer of blind bake – this can be ceramic beans, dried beans or rice – to give some weight help keep it flat and thin. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and is beginning to brown on the sides. Remove the blind bake, and put back in the oven to allow the pastry to cook all over to a light golden colour.

While the pastry is browning, whisk together the cream, eggs, and chervil.

Once the tart case is cooked, remove and turn the oven down to 180°C.

Pick the salad over to remove any leftover capers and cornichons. Scatter the rest over the tart case, so that you get pretty even cover. Then scatter over the spring onions and crumble the feta around, again, so that the coverage is quite even.

Pour the eggs and cream over the rest of the filling, shaking the case a little, to ensure even distribution. Return it to the oven and bake for a further 30-40 minutes, or until the centre is just set, but still has a little wobble if you shake it.

As with all quiches, this is great served hot or cold, but if you want to serve it warm, let it rest for about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven, so that the filling does not ooze all over the plate.

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9 Comments

Filed under Feast

9 responses to “A Picnic on Public Transport

  1. You can’t beat a quickly made up tart from leftovers!. I always keep a ready-made homemade tart case or two in the freezer for those quickie dinners or picnics. And yours sounds LUSH, the perfect bus picnic fodder!. Love it! Think I’m also going to have to enter the inaugural Cheese Please challenge too, being a monster cheese fiend. Thanks so much for being our first ever entry to Four Seasons Food…and with such a lovely post and recipe!

    • Thank you Louisa, as I said to you on Twitter, it couldn’t have been better timed, I’d only just pressed publish on this post.
      It’s a great new challenge, and I’m already looking forward to the barbecue edition next month.

      I’m looking forward to a French Cheese Please entry, too. I’ll keep my eye out for it

  2. Thanks for entering this into my challenge – and my first entrant too. Yum, it sounds lovely. I made a sweet tart for my blog recently but have to admit to cheating and buying pre-rolled pastry. I have always cooked a lot but baking’s still a bit of a mystery to me! So I take my hat off to you.

    Louisa – must check out your new challenge. This is all new to me but so much fun. And will look out for your Cheese Challenge entry (can you get Cheshire in France or is there a sub?)

    • Well, after our chat and me realising that I’m not badly off for crumbly cheese after all, I had to enter. I was writing up the post anyway, so again it was perfectly timed for me. Thank you for hosting it – a great idea.

      I saw that sweet tart – it looks amazing, definitely one to try for a dedicated forager like me. And my mum says life is too short to make pastry, so I wouldn’t worry about buying it. I do it because I like it, but also because I’ve never found shortcrust pastry over here either.

  3. Pingback: June’s Cheese, Please! – Cheshire Cheese | Fromage Homage

  4. You are the very first FSF entrant! Yay!! And how fantastic, a true picnic dish. You are of course 100% right about dressing salads at the point of eating rather than in advance. Good advice indeed! Thanks again for entering this delicious travel tart into Four Seasons Food. x

    • Thank you Anneli. If I can save anyone from floppy salad, that’a job well done.

      Thank you for coming up with Four Seasons Food, the challenges seem right up my street

  5. This really is my kind of dish. and its portable too. Love it.

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