Up until a year or two ago, Mr McGregor insisted that there was no point growing courgettes as ‘they don’t taste of anything’. Thankfully he has seen the error of his ways and now grows a couple of courgette plants in pots. This year we have had a really good courgette crop and I’ve been using them to make this lovely tart (I know it’s not a cake, but it is still baked). It’s surprisingly easy (including the pastry) and makes a couple of evening meals plus a lunch or two. The smoked salmon goes really well in it, but I also made a mushroom version for a vegetarian friend (I fried off the mushrooms with the courgettes and piled them all in together). She seemed to enjoy it and came back for seconds….
Before I give you the recipe I want to recommend another book. It arrived on my doorstep to interrupt the reading of the book list I mentioned last time, but once I started it I just had to finish. It is written by Kate Davies, who I have mentioned before here. Kate describes her book – Handywoman – as ‘a series of personal essays about my own experience of stroke (aged 36), subsequent disability, and the power of knitting and making’. It is a really interesting read, for anyone interested in health, stroke, knitting, making things, friendship and the role of women in society. She is a couple of years younger than me, and her description of growing up in the North of England in the 1970s and 1980s took me right back to my childhood. Anyone else remember when Findus Crispy Pancakes were a treat? Kate is a really engaging writer, whose sense of humour shines through, even when she describes her most difficult times. Do have a read!
The other thing I must share is the fact that Mr McGregor reckons his hops are ready and he has harvested them…. I am not entirely sure what he means to do with them in the long run, but he reports that he needs to dry them and then store them in an ‘air free environment’. We don’t have a vacuum packing facility in the house so I’m not quite sure how he will achieve this…….
Courgette and smoked salmon tart (pdf Courgette and smoked salmon tart)
200g spelt flour
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from stalk and finely chopped
Zest of one unwaxed lemon
50ml olive oil
1 large or 2 small courgette (or whatever you want to cram in)
1 clove of garlic
3 large eggs
3 heaped tablespoons soft cheese
3 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche
1 pack smoked salmon
20cm flan tin
- Preheat the oven to 180 fan/gas 4. Make the pastry: mix flour, lemon zest and rosemary in a food processor. Gradually mix olive oil in and then add enough cold water (~70ml) so that it comes together in a ball. On a floured work surface, roll out so that it will fill the greased flan tin. Put into the tin and press gently into the base and sides. Prick the bottom well and bake for 12 minutes (you don’t need baking beans).
- Meanwhile make the filling. Fry the courgette and garlic until softened. Mix the soft cheese, creme fraiche and eggs to a smooth mix. Pile courgettes into the pastry case. Pour over the cheese/creme fraiche/egg mixture. Finally, add smoked salmon pieces. Bake for around 30 minutes – until the top is firmish, it may still look a little liquid in the middle but will firm up when cool. We have also used poached salmon in this and that was lovely too
- Tastes delicious hot or cold, with a green salad