Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's savoury tarts are perfect served cold on a spring day

Forget soggy 1970s quiches: Bill's tarts have crunch and clarity...

Bill Granger
Friday 10 April 2015 15:02 BST
Hot smoked salmon and watercress tart
Hot smoked salmon and watercress tart (Kristin Perers)

I'm sure we've all had our fair share of dreadful savoury tarts. Anybody who lived through the 1970s and 1980s will have had the misfortune of enduring stodgy quiches with soggy bottoms and dense custard fillings. Maybe a quiche Lorraine eaten in Lorraine is a dish to celebrate, but growing up in Sydney, my encounters with it were nothing but disappointing.

Fast-forward to 2015, and I've developed a new-found attraction to savoury tarts. Thanks to the genius of food processors and the great ready-made all-butter pastries you can get in supermarkets, they require less elbow grease than the tarts of the past. I also like to keep the fillings fresher by always including herbs or peppery leaves such as watercress or rocket.

For me, the beauty of a tart is that it's something you can prepare in advance and eat cold later, which is why they're perfect for this time of year, when the idea of a cold lunch or light dinner starts to sound attractive.

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, Follow Bill on Instagram at bill.granger

Hot smoked salmon and watercress tart

Using spelt makes this pastry slightly harder to handle, but it's worth it for both the flavour and texture of the final result.

Serves 10-12

4 eggs
170g crème fraîche
170ml double cream
Two good handfuls watercress
150g hot smoked salmon, flaked

For the pastry

150g wholemeal spelt flour
100g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
150g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/Gas4.

Start by making the pastry. Put the flours, butter and a good pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Pour in the egg yolk and 1 tbsp of chilled water and pulse until the pastry comes together into a ball. Add a little extra water if the pastry is still too crumbly. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

Once the pastry is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface and line a 23cm loose-based tin. Line this with baking paper and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Fill the tart base with baking beans and cook the pastry for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, tip out the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp.

For the filling, break the eggs into a large jug and lightly beat with a fork. Lightly brush the base of the pastry case with the egg and return to the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to seal the pastry.

Add the crème fraîche and double cream to the rest of the beaten eggs. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place a good handful of watercress into the pastry case and scatter the flaked salmon over the top. Pour over the egg mixture. Return to the oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. Leave to cool.

Top with a handful of fresh watercress before serving.

Goat's cheese and herb-custard tarts

These will puff up like a soufflé in the oven, and, just like a soufflé, collapse as they cool. The pastry is prepared following the method the Portuguese use to make their custard tarts, making it even flakier than puff pastry already is.

Makes 12

320g pack ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Flour, for dusting
200g soft goat's cheese, crumbled
45g peas, defrosted if frozen
Handful mint leaves, chopped
3 spring onions, sliced
235ml double cream
2 eggs

Goat's cheese and herb-custard tarts (Kristin Perers)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin.

Unroll the pastry sheet and spread with mustard right to the edges. Cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways, put one half on top of the other, mustard-side up. Roll up the pastry tightly from the short end and cut into 12 thin rounds, each about 1cm thick.

Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface. Roll out each piece to a 10cm disk. Press the pastry round into the prepared muffin tin. Chill for 15 minutes.

Divide the crumbled goat's cheese between the pastry cases. Top with the peas, mint and spring onions. Use a fork to lightly beat the cream and eggs together in a jug. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Carefully pour the mixture into each case.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer to a cooling rack. Wait until cooled then serve.

Asparagus, new potato and egg tart

If you thought a home-made tart was too much faff for a quick, last-minute lunch, think again. Bought puff pastry that comes already rolled makes this the perfect lazy cook's lunch.

Serves 4

320g pack ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
250g fine asparagus
50g new potatoes
3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, for brushing
125g crème fraîche
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 tbsp chilli flakes
Small bunch dill
Parmesan, for shaving

Asparagus, new potato and egg tart (Kristin Perers)

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7. Unroll the pastry on to a large baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Use a sharp knife to score an edge about 2½cm wide around the pastry, being careful not to cut all the way through. Brush the edge with yolk.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and refresh in cold water.

Spread crème fraîche on the inside rectangle of the pastry and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a potato peeler to thinly shave the new potatoes over the tart, making sure to leave the outer edge free.

Arrange the asparagus over the potatoes, leaving space for the eggs. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden-brown.

Take the tart out of the oven and crack the eggs into the pockets you left earlier. Return to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set. Top with chilli flakes, dill and Parmesan shavings and serve.

Food preparation: Marina Filippelli; Stylist: Rachel Jukes

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