I will start this post by saying that THIS is my favourite recipe of all times (for now), and that should tell you all you need to know….
When Catherine invite you for a weekend away, you cancel all plans and you go…. mmm quite a statement, but Catherine has a way of choosing those special little gems…. Talking of gems, this weekend was in celebration of Gemma’s birthday and what better way to celebrate a birthday than with making a weekend of it.
The House of Eels… Vermaaklikheid…
The House of Eels on the banks of the Duiwenhoks river, 3 large bedrooms and one kiddies bunk room with 4 single beds, a very well equipped kitchen with open plan diningroom / livingroom, inside braai area and stunning outside stoep overlooking the Eel ponds below.
Apparently the Eels used to come over the dry land from the river, into the ponds and be fed in the special “underground” room … we had endless conversations about how this actually worked….
I made this tart as our Starter for lunch on the Saturday.
For the tomato tart you will need:
1 roll of puff pastry
about 8 large leeks cut into very thin rings
3 or 4 tablespoons of cream
one block of creamy blue cheese
small cherry tomatoes
a handfull of pine nuts
Thick reduced balsamic for serving
2 x loose bottom tart pans…
You can make the following in advance if time is a problem.
Saute the leeks in a bit of butter and olive oil until soft, stir often and don’t let them turn too brown.
Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (that MUST do ingredient to make or break this tart, don’t leave this out).
Stir in 3 – 4 tablespoons of cream.
The cream should just be enough to “wet” the leeks, it must not be runny, just moist and wet with cream.
Put aside till needed, it can cool down completely, but also can be used immediately if not made in advance.
For the pastry I used one roll of puff pastry cut lenghways in half, rolled out slightly.
Fit pastry into the pans, and put in fridge until needed.
Roast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they’ve slightly browned, stir continiously with a wooden spoon and remove the pine nuts from the pan as soon as they start to turn brown.
About one hour before lunch start packing the tart, you don’t want to do this earlier as the pastry will go soggy.
Spoon the leeks into the pans and even out, there should be no runny liquid on the pastry, the bottom of the pastry will still be semi visable, so not a too thick layer of leeks, see pic below.
Cover leeks with thin slices of blue cheese (i like the creamy blue one from spar in the gold and blue wrapping). And add small dollops of mayo over the blue cheese, see pic below for how much, as you don’t want the tart to become too “wet”.
Now for the fun part, cut the tomato’s into halves and pack on the blue cheese in neat rows.
Bake at 180 degrees in a pre-heated oven, make sure the pastry is properly cooked, golden and brown, rather too brown than too soft. This can take up to 35 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and let the tart rest in the pan for about 15 minutes to “settle”.
Remove the tarts from the tart pans, (Shannon will firmly but gently slide a big knife between the pastry and loose metal bottom of the tart pan to loosen the tart and in one swift movement push it off and onto a wooden board), ready for serving…
Drizzle with thick reduced balsamic reduction and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
We served these tarts on a rough piece of wood with a long sheet of baking paper underneath….. very visual…
Serve with a “green only” salad….
And after lunch, the kids went Eel hunting until it was time for dessert at 16:00…..
And guess what they nearly caught, right there where they’ve been playing the whole weekend…
Dessert to follow in part 2…