You cannot go wrong with this simple but sumptuous tart. I have never baked tarts to complete perfection until I started cooking with an Esse, but it is just as good in any oven as the flavours are a match made in heaven. I have no idea what happens to them inside the oven, but the end result is perfection. The crust is always golden, the wobble and height of the tart make me smile every time.
If you want to impress your lunch guests or just make a picnic with a difference, this is the tart for you.
Best served with a good green salad, and as Nigel Slater suggested when he wrote a beautiful piece about this tart, it is a good dish for an unpredictable summer.
You will need a 22cm pastry case beaten egg for brushing
120g plain, white organic flour 60g unsalted butter
Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into the food processor, then cut the cold butter into small pieces on top of it. I process it for 20-30 seconds, then add ice-cold water through the top, 1 tbsp at a time, with the machine running. About 2 to 2 should do it. If the paste is still in crumbly little bits after a minute or two, add 1 tbsp more of water, but remember, the more water you use, the more your pastry will shrink when you bake it blind. The moment it has cohered into a single ball, stop, remove it, wrap it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. There are plenty of pastry videos to watch on my @mirandaroseshearer Instagram page…
Roll pastry out and bake blind for 10 minutes at 190 degrees and then take the baking parchment and beans off, prick with a fork and bake for another 5-10 minutes. I check after 5 minutes and if it is still too anaemic, I pop it back in for another 5 minutes. Brush the egg over the surface of the tart while it is still hot. This is a little trick to seal the tart.
THE TART FILLING
325g undyed smoked haddock
300ml Jersey milk (or 100ml milk & 200g crème fraiche) 30g butter 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 stick of celery, finely chopped 30g plain flour nutmeg a bunch of watercress, stalks removed, finely chopped 2 eggs, beaten 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
Put the haddock and milk in a Pyrex dish, season with pepper and a couple of little knobs of butter. Cook in the same oven as the pastry at 190 degrees while you bake blind. You could cook it on the top in a saucepan with the milk. Bring to the boil and then turn it down and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove and skin the fish and flake into a large bowl. Reserve the milk separately.
Heat the butter in a non-stick saucepan, add the onion and celery and cook gently, until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes, then add the reserved poaching milk and stir until the sauce has thickened. Season with a little salt, pepper and the grated nutmeg. Remove from the heat and stir into the fish, adding the watercress and beaten eggs.
Pour into the pastry case and sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes, when the tart will have risen and be crusted a delectable golden brown. Leave to cool slightly before turning out and eating hot.