from Nigel Slater Tender Vol. I *. I like tarts, because they could be eaten warm and cold, so you have something for the lunch box. I liked the combination of tarragon and asparagus, the pastry was great with its shortbread like texture.
Although I was lazy and did not bake blind the pastry crust, it wasn’t soggy. Instead of putting it into the fridge for 20 minutes I gave it in the freezer and poured the filling directly on the frozen pastry. The asparagus was cooked for 8 minutes in a steamer.
Nigel Slater Tart of asparagus and tarragon
Yield: serves 6 or 4 hungry persons
FOR THE PASTRY
90 grams butter
150 grams plain flour, I used wheat flour type 405
1 egg yolk, about 16 grams
FOR THE FILLING
250 grams asparagus tips
3 eggs, size M
285 ml double cream, Ulrike: 200 grams cream, carrageen free
Cut the butter into small chunks and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg yolk and enough water to make a firm dough. You will find you need about a tablespoon or even less.
Roll the dough out to fit a 22 cm tart tin preferably a loose-bottomed tin, pressing the pastry right into the corners. Prick the pastry base with a fork, then refrigerate it for a good twenty minutes. Don’t be tempted to miss out this step; the chilling will stop the pastry shrinking in the oven. Bake blind at 200°C/Gas 6 for twelve to fifteen minutes, until the pastry is pale biscuit coloured and dry to the touch.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil, drop in the asparagus and let it simmer for seven or eight minutes or so, until it is quite tender. It will receive more cooking later but you want it to be thoroughly soft after its time in the oven, as its texture will barely change later under the custard.
Put the cream in a jug or bowl and beat in the eggs gently with a fork. Roughly chop the tarragon and add that to the cream with a seasoning of salt and black pepper.
Slice the asparagus into short lengths, removing any tough ends. Scatter it over the partly baked pastry case, then pour in the cream and egg mixture and scatter the cheese over the surface. Bake, the oven temperature lowered to 180°C/Gas 4, for about forty minutes, until the filling is golden and set. Serve warm.