Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart


Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (2)

This is the unashamed winter version of my spring tart – the same base with some lovely, warm, winter flavours to top it with.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that it’s my birthday soon (on Monday), and in my opinion the celebrations should start today. Only one day left at work before a lovely long weekend – what better time to celebrate with a delicious cheesy, pastry based tart with the beautiful flavours of bacon, leek, walnuts and gorgonzola (and a glass of wine).

The tart is extremely easy to make. Although slightly more difficult to make than my spring tart, due to the frying of the bacon and leeks, it’s still desperately straightforward and if you’re someone who is a bit scared of using pastry, this is an excellent place to start.

The tart was given the accolade “scrumptious” by my husband, so must be good.

This will take you no more than 45 minutes to make, and will serve 4 with a side salad.

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (1)

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart

375g ready rolled puff pastry

200g bacon lardons

1 large leek

200g soft cheese

1 egg

1 handful walnut halves

20g gorgonzola

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon lardons over a medium heat until golden. Finely slice the leeks and add them to the fryng pan; fry for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Unroll the pastry, lay on a baking tray and score all the way around the edge, 1 inch from the sides (don’t cut all the way through). Beat the egg in a bowl and brush a little around the outside edges.

4. Spread the soft cheese evenly over the inside scored rectangle of the pastry. Grind some black pepper over the top, then evenly layer on the bacon and leek mix. Sprinkle over the walnuts, and dot the gorgonzola over.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sides are golden and puffed up.

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie


Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (2)

I’ve loved spinach and feta filo pie (or Spanakopita as the Greek call it) ever since I first tried it. There’s something about the heady mixture of salty feta, fragrant nutmeg and crispy, light filo pastry which really appeals to me. It has all of the elements of a comforting pie, but feels light and guilt free (although, of course, there’s far too much butter and cheese involved for it to be really guilt free).

My love for this pie was hightened on our honeymoon in Kos, where I ate it for almost every meal (yes, that’s right, our hotel served it for breakfast! Yes, it was heaven), and cooking this meal now, in the depths of nasty, cold winter, takes me back to that beautiful, golden island under the beautiful, golden sun. Sigh!

Although we’re eating this as a main by itself, it would work perfectly well as part of a Greek mezze, perhaps as a side to these amazing Greek Chicken Tacos and Za’atar and Olive Focaccia on the side, with a wonderfully simple Greek yoghurt pud.

This will take you up to an hour to make, and will serve 4 as a main, 6 as a side.

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie (1)

Spinach and Feta Filo Pie

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

200g spinach

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

400g feta

1 egg

6 sheets filo pastry

10g butter, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2. Roughly chop your onion and add to a frying pan with the olive oil. Saute over a high heat for 1-2 minutes, then gradually add the spinach until it is all wilted. Stir in the nutmeg, and season with black pepper. Allow to cool.

3. Roughly chop the feta and put in a large bowl. Add the spinach mix and crack in the egg, then stir to combine well.

4. Take a large oven proof dish and brush with a little of the melted butter. Lay one of the sheets of filo pastry over the dish and brush with more butter. Repeat until the dish is completely covered with filo, and you have used 4 sheets.

5. Pile in the feta mix. Spread out evenly, then top with the remaining two sheets of filo pastry. Brush with more butter, then fold the overhanging pieces of filo pastry from the bottom layers over the top, so that it is wrapped like a parcel. Brush with more butter, then bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

Chicken Stroganoff Pie


This recipe is based on one by Simon Rimmer. Now that the weather’s getting colder and it’s dark by the time I’m home from work I crave comfort food, I’m sure everyone does, and pie is the ultimate comfort food.

This idea for a pie sounded delicious – I love stroganoff but I’d never had a chicken one, and everything is better with pastry. This is a really smoky, creamy pie which you could throw any veggies you have hanging around into – I had three peppers in the fridge which I used, but frozen peas or green beans would go wonderfully too.

This will serve 4 and takes around 1 hour to make.

Chicken Stroganoff Pie

1 tbsp olive oil

400g chicken breast

2 tbsps smoked paprika

150g bacon lardons

1 onion

150g button mushrooms

1 small glass white wine

450ml chicken stock

3 peppers, any colour

125ml soured cream

1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley

300g puff pastry

1. Slice the chicken breast into bite sized pieces and coat with 1 tablespoon of the paprika. Heat the oil in a casserole dish over a medium heat and add the chicken. Brown, then remove from the pan and put to one side.

2. Add the lardons to the casserole dish, brown, and then add the chopped onion and roughly sliced mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the white wine. Allow the wine to bubble down, then add the stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the stock has reduced by half.

3. Chop the peppers and add to the casserole dish, add the chicken, the rest of the smoked paprika and the soured cream. Taste and season with salt, pepper and more smoked paprika if necessary. Stir in the parsley.

4. Tip into an oven proof dish and top with the puff pastry. Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

Beetroot and Wensleydale Tartlets


These lovely little tartlets are like a hug in a pastry casing. They do take about an hour to make, but if you put the beetroot on to roast as soon as you get home from work they’re really not too time consuming or labour intensive.

Although they sound unhealthy, they contain plenty of fresh veg (onion, spinach, beetroot – and we had ours with a side salad) which I’m sure counterbalances the puff pastry…

The recipe below will make six tartlets, we had two each and we’ll have the left overs for lunch tomorrow. You could easily double or even triple the quantities if you wanted to make them for a dinner party.

Beetroot and Wensleydale Tartlets

2 tbsps olive oil

500g beetroot

1 large white onion

200g baby leaf spinach

75g dried cranberries

1 tsp dried thyme

300g wensleydale cheese (or any other crumbly cheese)

320g readymade puff pastry (unless you fancy making your own!)

1 egg, beaten

1. Chop the ends off the beetroot and cut each one into small cubes – about 1cm square. Put into a large ovenproof dish, drizzle with half of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put in the oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, until softened. Leave the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and add to a frying pan with the remaining olive oil. Soften for a couple of minutes, then add the spinach bit by bit until wilted. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the beetroot, spinach mix, cranberries, thyme and cubed wensleydale.

4. Unroll the pastry and divide into six. Place a spoonful of the mix into the centre of each square of pastry. Pull up the corners around the filling, then pinch the edges shut.

5. Brush each tartlet with beaten egg, then pop in the oven for about 15-20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.