I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s the time of year when we instinctively want to make space for the glut of home-grown vegetables due to arrive in the next few weeks. Sadly there is not much sign of that happening at the moment.
Our runner beans didn’t germinate and never came up. We replaced them with some bought climbing green bean plants but they haven’t grown any more at all, they just sit there sulking, waiting for the sun and warmth to perk them up.
We planted out two rows of peas and days later they were nibbled down to stalks by either rabbits or pigeons. We replaced them last weekend and in spite of taking reasonable precautions the same thing has happened again. I think this is the point where I admit defeat and resign myself to buying our peas and beans in Sainsbury’s this year. At least the broad beans are looking promising and the tomato plants are flowering in the greenhouse.
Anyway, we are gradually working our way through the contents of the freezer and pulling out UFO’s (unidentified frozen objects) on a daily basis. Yesterday I found a bag containing some smoked haddock, probably not enough to do much with, so I fished out a small pack of frozen raw prawns as well. In the fridge there was half a bag of spinach, looking slightly past its best, and part of a bag of the highly despised ready grated parmesan cheese (brought back from our last visit to France). So I went hunting for a recipe to do something with them.
I bought “The Art of the Tart” in a charity shop a few years ago and confess I have barely opened it. But in it I found a recipe using smoked haddock and watercress that looked interesting – and easily adaptable for the ingredients I wanted to use.
My piece of smoked haddock had been in the freezer well beyond the time it should normally be kept frozen but it seemed absolutely fine when it was thawed. The prawns were uncooked, peeled prawns so when they were thawed I cooked them in butter before adding to the tart.
I have to say, there was nothing particularly everyday about the finished tart. It was absolutely delicious.
We had ours with new potatoes and an assortment of veg, principally the remainder of the bag of spinach and the other bits and pieces lurking in the fridge. But it was good enough to serve to guests and would make a lovely starter with some salad, or a nice lunch. Definitely a recipe I will be using again.
I am entering the recipe into this month’s “No waste food challenge”, organised by Kate from Turquoise Lemons. This month’s title is “freezer stash” and is presented by Elizabeth’s Kitchen. You can see the details here.
For the pastry:
6oz plain flour
2oz Trex or other white fat
For the filling:
250g smoked haddock, dyed or undyed
100g cooked, peeled prawns
1 tblsp plain flour
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
salt, pepper and nutmeg for seasoning
Flora Cuisine, or olive oil, or butter, for frying
a few handfuls of spinach, washed and roughly chopped
2 eggs, beaten
a sprinkling of parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 190°C / 170° fan / gas mk 5. Grease a 22cm / 9” flan tin or dish.
Make the pastry as usual. Line the dish, prick the base with a fork, add baking parchment and baking beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the beans, brush the base with a little of the beaten egg and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, put the smoked haddock in a saucepan with the milk, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Strain the fish and reserve the milk. Remove the skin and any bones from the fish and flake into a bowl. Set aside.
Heat the Flora, oil or butter in another medium saucepan and cook the onion and celery until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the reserved milk and heat gently, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Remove from the heat.
Add the eggs, fish, prawns and spinach to the pan and stir until combined. Spread the mixture into the pastry case, sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Serves 4-6 good portions.
(Apologies for the mixture of metric and imperial measurements. I always make my pastry from scratch in ounces but follow recipes in grams.)