Unsurprisingly, Hugo’s annual visit to the vet is not something I particularly look forward to. I wouldn’t wish to shame my faithful friend (especially in view of our slightly volatile working relationship), but I suspect the vet might share my feelings. In a nutshell (nut being the operative word), during his last visit, he took out a cat, threw himself at a plasterboard wall leaving a significant hole and broke a table leg. He also refused to lie on the floor, preferring instead to avail himself of the chairs. I can’t even blame his appalling behaviour on white coat hypertension – the vet is always rewarded with huge, slobbery kisses for her courageous attempts to calm and vaccinate him (from Hugo, not me). I think it’s a simple case of overexcitement at the idea of being in an enclosed space with so much potential chase fodder. This time, as it was impossible to hold him on his lead (his brute force would be a match for a prize bull), bad mother and even worse pet owner that I am, I resorted to using Léo as a human straitjacket. It wasn’t ideal (I had to haul them both out from under the reception desk), but at least there was no structural damage to the surgery, which can only be a good thing. I do realise that I’m setting the bar pretty low in terms of canine obedience, but everyone has to start somewhere. In our case that appears to be rock bottom.
White cabbage and blue cheese complement each other beautifully. Cabbage has the highest amount of some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables, which stimulate detoxifying enzymes. It is rich in vitamin K, which is important for bone metabolism and for preventing neuronal damage in the brain. Cabbage is also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and the B vitamins and also provides iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
100g spelt flour
80g buckwheat flour
30g virgin coconut oil
Roughly 6 tablespoons of cold water
250g washed and shredded white cabbage
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
2 shallots, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
150 ml double cream
100mg blue cheese (I used Roquefort), crumbled
To make the pastry, begin by cutting the butter and coconut oil into small cubes. Add to the flours in a mixing bowl and add a pinch of sea salt. Blend by hand until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the cold water, mixing rapidly with a spoon. Remove the mixture from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until you obtain a ball of pastry (if the mixture isn’t ‘sticky’ enough to form a ball, you may need a drop more water). Wrap in a clean cotton tea towel and leave to ‘rest’ in the fridge for about two hours. This relaxes the dough and makes it easier to use.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface and fill the tart tin or tins. As this pastry contains buckwheat flour, which contains no gluten, it will be quite fragile. You’ll find that you have to treat it delicately and possibly fill in the cracks with remaining bits of pastry by pressing gently. I use individual tart tins. Precook the pastry for 12 minutes.
For the filling, cook the shredded cabbage for about 15 minutes in boiling water, to which you have added the stock cube. Once cooked, drain well and set aside. Break the egg into a small bowl and add the cream and seasoning (salt, pepper, paprika). Beat well to form a homogenous mixture. Assemble the tarts by filling about ¾ full with cabbage, covering with crumbled blue cheese and then pouring the egg/cream mixture over the top. Cook at 180°C for 18 minutes.