ember day tart_edited-reduced size

This wonderful quiche is inspired by a medieval recipe which was eaten on fasting days (Ember Days in the Catholic calendar did not allow the consumption of meat or fish). During the Crusades trade routes had been established to England and although they were expensive there were many spices and herbs available to medieval chefs. They used them abundantly to show wealth to guests at formal banquets. This tart would have also had sugar in it at that time – no distinction was made between savoury and sweet flavours. I have omitted the sugar but kept the raisins in form the original recipe – they make it quite sweet enough! Don’t hold back with the parsley as this is a flavour not a garnish and buy flat leaf as it is much stronger than our own native curly leaf that we use as a garnish today. The cheese they would have used would have been either a hard cheese similar to  Lancashire or more likely a goat’s cheese or a freshly made cheese. You will get quite a different tart if you use small spoons of cream cheese in place of the grated hard cheese but worth a try on a summer’s day. If you want to use cottage cheese make sure you drain it well. This tart has the flavours of a coronation sauce with the luxury of a pastry case and is wonderful as a lunch dish. Try making small versions for an impressive starter. Enjoy this tart which has its feet firmly stuck in history.

METHOD

1) Line a 25cm flan tin with baking parchment

2 ) Roll the pastry out and line the tin covering the raw pastry with a layer of foil or baking parchment that must come up above the pastry at the edges

3 ) Fill the lined pastry shell with approx. 1kg dried beans/lentil/uncooled rice/baking beans and bake for 15 minutes at 350F180C. Remove the top paper with the beans and store for another day and return the uncovered pastry case tot he oven for a further 10 minutes to brown slightly. remove and allow to cool.

4) While the pastry is cooking put the chopped onions, butter, oil and a tablespoon of water into a saucepan and cover with a tight fitting lid or foil. cook over a medium to low heat for 5 -10 minutes so the onions soften but do not colour. Allow to cool slightly.

5) In a mixing bowl mix the cream, milk, parsley, spices, eggs, egg yolks, cheese and raisins. When mixed, taste and season well with salt. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake at 160C/300F for about 40 minutes or until the tart is set and browned.

Enjoy warm or cold – this can be re-heated successfully so no need to get stressed baking just before guests arrive!