The irony. It's a gorgeous spring day in Hobart. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun is beaming UV, and yes the birds are actually singing. It just doesn't seem right then that I'm sitting inside curled up with a runny nose, dizzy head and constantly sneezing.
But that hasn't stopped me- because just last night, inspired by the weather forecast, I set myself the task to create a gorgeous spring tart. I should mention that I was also inspired to do this because of a looming cooking demonstration that I will be teaching at Bottega Rotolo this Saturday, 22nd October. The theme- Elegant Outdoor Dining. Perfect!
For me spring and summer alike are all about getting friends together and sharing good food. Whether its fish and chips wrapped in paper enjoyed by the beach or an Aussie BBQ in the backyard with the dogs, it's truly Australian to embrace gorgeous weather- especially in Hobart when we don't always know when the next gorgeous day will come.
This recipe embraces simplicity and can be prepared in advance so you have more time to be sipping cold drinks, enjoying the sun and catching up on gossip.
Asparagus are in season right now- and can be found everywhere. It's so important to buy seasonally, because not only are you saving dollars ($1.50 a bunch!), but you know the quality is fantastic. Out of season they tend to be limp and scraggly, and sit on the shelf until they are marked down.
Reap the health benefits too- asparagus are full of vitamin E which help prevent against wrinkles keeping our skin looking young and folic acid which is said to protect arteries that supply blood to our heart and brain. And the fact that in this recipe I've kept it raw, there is no loss of any vitamins in the cooking process.
There are still a few spots available for the cooking demonstration at Bottega Rotolo but be quick! Includes a 4 course meal and wines. Contact Veronica on 62349978.
2 sheets short crust pastry
1 large leek
6 free range eggs
250ml thickened cream
50g Grana Padano cheese (aged parmesan)
100g Gruyere cheese
6 thick asparagus spears
1/4 bulb fennel
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Line a rectangular flan tin with pastry. Trim and line with baking paper and baking beads. Blind bake in a 180 degree oven for 10 minutes or until slightly coloured. Remove from oven and cool.
Meanwhile finely slice leeks and cook in a small pan with butter. Remove when translucent and set aside. In a bowl, whisk eggs and add the cream. Grate the Grana and mix through the egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Prepare your tart by adding the leek in the pastry base, and top with the egg mixture. Grate the Gruyere and evenly disperse over the top of the tart. Place into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until risen and firm to touch. Remove the tart from the oven. You will notice the filling with drop- but this is ok.
To prepare the asparagus, use a peeler to shave thin ribbons. Thinly slice the fennel with a sharp knife. Mix the asparagus and fennel and dress with a good glug of olive oil, vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice and toss.
Place tart on a serving platter. Assemble asparagus on top of the tart, drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.