"a crisp crust hiding a soft filling has always worked for me."
I fancy a tart for dinner, which usually means a quiche, but I don't quite fancy a quiche this time and besides I have this half a pumpkin in the fridge that David bought the other day. I would not have. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin, except for Bert Greene's wonderful soup (another time) and this is far too much pumpkin for that, and no ham hock, which is required either. But since I have pumpkin - lots of it, I thought I could perhaps make a tart with it. And thinking of that ham hock - at the beginning of our current crisis David also bought a shoulder of ham - well one of those sort of boneless ones but with a bit of bone at the end. It lasts and it has multiple uses was his thinking. Thinking about that soup I am now thinking that when I get to the end of it - not long now, I can use that instead of a ham hock. Well it is a ham hock really. I have promised him the soup - it's his favourite.
But I don't think pumpkin really goes all that well in a quiche - that's a quiche at the top. Well I suppose it could work but I'm tending more to one of those kind of tarts where you partly cook the shell and then load it with stuff and finish it off in the oven.
These are the kind of thought processes I go through when I have things in the fridge that I need to use. So let me demonstrate by continuing my pondering of today.
I also have a large number of tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden, and they never do well in a quiche I think. Too juicy which means that the quiche bit - the cream and eggs - doesn't set. Even if you put them on the top when you bite into the quiche the juice that squirts out of the tomatoes spoils it somehow.
I did actually find a sort of quiche recipe, with pumpkin and tomato from a site called Rainbow Nourishments - with these two ingredients - shown at right, but I still wasn't convinced. I'm giving you the link because this was sort of interesting in a weird sort of way, because the 'pastry' is sourdough bread, and the creamy quiche mixture is made with cashews, and plant based milk - no eggs - so it must be a vegan recipe I guess. The bead as a base might be worth trying one day though.
I also found a pumpkin quiche recipe (shown below) that puréed the pumpkin and mixed it in with the eggs and cream. Which made me feel a bit queasy. A bit too violently orange. I guess you could do it if you only used a tiny bit of pumpkin and just had other things being the main focus - onions, mushrooms ... ? Here's a thought for another time, if you had any leftover puréed pumpkin - you could use it to make pasta - couldn't you? If you can find any flour that is.
But back to my meandering pondering on what to cook for dinner. With the pumpkin quite a long way in the back of my mind I started wondering whether to roast the tomatoes with other vegetables - you can certainly roast pumpkin. As you can see the pumpkin kept on nudging its way in. So OK I'll roast a bit of pumpkin. Just one of those wedges cut into chunks.
I'm now on the trail of a tart with roast vegetables. Most of the recipes you find for this kind of tart is topped with cheese - usually feta - and I don't have any. Normally I would just go to the supermarket and get some - but better not do that in the current circumstances. Well I could use a different kind of cheese - we have some cheddar cheese from the market which is a tiny bit over the top and some past it brie too. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his Love Your Leftovers suggests 'a trickle of cream if handy'. Yes I have cream. You've always got to have cream to hand - and if I was in England I would have crème fraîche too, which he also suggests - too expensive to always have on standby here.
So what else do I have? Well carrots. I always have carrots and they do roast nicely, but I think they're a bit too the same as pumpkin. So not this time. Onions. You've always got to have onions. Now I could just fry off some onions and add them to the mix, and then I saw this tart - Roast onion tart and I was immediately hooked. So onions although I might make them juicier by roasting them in wedges.
Now the other thing that I have is kale in the garden. I should use some of that for all those nutrients it provides and a bit of green. The flavour would go well, but how to get it in there? I mean you wouldn't roast it would you? Maybe I should just soften it a bit with some butter and then mix it with that trickle of cream that Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall recommended.
What about garlic? Herbs? Will think on that. Oh and I just remembered I have some fennel, but I think I'll save that for something else.
So there you go - dinner sorted. I have the pastry already made in my freezer. You will find that most of the recipes for this kind of tart use puff pastry but I haven't got any and you can't get any, and I'm certainly not making any. So shortcrust it will have to be.
A bit of a ramble I know. Is this how you decide on what to cook? I know that my daughter-in-law, at least, is finding that she is cooking much more in this fashion - cobbling something together with what you have in the fridge rather than deciding what to cook and then getting the ingredients. It can be creative and satisfying. It can be downright depressing when it doesn't turn out like your big idea was meant to turn out. Most likely it's that 'win some, lose some' thing. And besides it's only food and it's the only art or craft - call it what you will - that doesn't hang around and reproach you with its failure - if you fail. It's gone and if it's a failure it won't be repeated.
But if you really want to follow a recipe - here's another different one I found in Gourmet Traveller - from a restaurant called Pinbone in NSW. It's called Pinbone's maple, bacon and pumpkin tart. Looks yum. And you might just have maple syrup and bacon in your stores. I think the pumpkin must be a purée on the bottom. There's a video to show you how.
POSTSCRIPT - It was, a bit surprisingly, pretty nice. And apparently Jamie did something similar on his new TV show about using up stuff. You can put just about anything in the mix I think. Try it some time.