The ‘ beast from the east’ has made it a bit of a make do and mend week in the kitchen. The heavy snow and the fact that I was completely trapped and unable to make it to the shops, meant making sure that any fresh food I had was being well used.
Over the past few years my shopping habits have changed; and with the boys away from home, I prefer to shop on a little and often basis at local shops, farmers markets and direct from independent producers. Apart from lots of dried staples and some tinned foods I don’t keep the same volume of meat and vegetables to hand. When the snow arrived and we became snowed in, I realised it would be better to cook up what I had and make stretch ingredients as far as I could.
I make my own bread and have a reasonable storecupboard of staples: long life milk, tinned tomatoes, pulses, beans, rice and herbs, so I knew we definitely wouldn’t starve. A block of puff pastry that needed using up was put to good use and batch of sausage rolls and homemade soup kept us going for 2 days lunches. On day 3, with some pastry left I offered lentil sausage rolls, only to be met by the raised carnivore eyebrow of Mr G. Lentil sausage rolls were obviously not an appetising option!
With some leftover cheese and a couple of tomatoes the Ploughman’s Tart was created. I used a combination of mozzarella and some grated smoked cheese along with sliced tomatoes, dried thyme, and olive oil.
Chutney of course is an essential part of a ploughman’s and for extra flavour I added a layer of one of my favourites, Perthsire Preserves caramelised red onion chutney to the base of the pastry and then topped with the other ingredients. This is a very simple and basic recipe that will work with a variety of different ingredients and is a great way to use up the loose ends.
Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
1 500g block of puff pastry. Approx 100g chutney. 1 ball of Mozzarella torn into small pieces. 50g grated smoked cheddar. 2-3sliced tomatoes. Dried mixed herbs. Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Olive oil. 1 egg beaten.
Roll the pastry into one long rectangle about the thickness of one pound coin. Cut the pastry into 8 triangles, place on an oiled baking sheet then spread a little chutney over the middle of each. Top each with 2 slices of tomatoes, a few pieces of torn Mozzarella and grated cheese. Sprinkle with a pinch of mixed herbs and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each tart with olive oil. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and bake until golden and crisp.