Tag Archives: tomato

Tomato and goat cheese tart (gf) and upside down tortoises


Our last skiing weekend of the season was an unmitigated success after a slightly shaky start. I tend to be a bit bossy (as I think Hugo has mentioned), meaning that I pay a lot of attention to telling other people what to do, and less attention to what I should be doing. A case in point: on Saturday we took the first chairlift of the day with two other people and my backpack, which could quite legitimately have had a seat of its own, filled as it was with clothes, water, food, camera and video material. One would have been forgiven for assuming we were about to climb Everest, not spend a leisurely day in the Spring snow. In the interests of pedagogy, I explained to Léo on the ride up that, especially when there are four people on the lift, it’s important to go straight forward when you disembark. Five minutes later, I had ended up on my back with my skis in the air like a tortoise on its shell, unable to stand up due to the sheer size and weight of my backpack. The chairlift operator was very kind and stopped the lift (presumably to avoid a tortoise roadkill scenario) and hauled me up with a large smile (or snigger?) and a gracious  ‘bienvenue Madame!’

These savoury tarts are quick and easy to make (particularly if you’ve made the pastry cases in advance) and will be even more delicious when tomatoes come into season properly.

Ingredients for pastry (makes about six mini tarts):

110g buckwheat flour

30g butter

20ml olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

Roughly 6 tablespoons of cold water

Ingredients for filling:

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 tomatoes, cut into thin slices

6 slices of goats cheese

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, paprika

To make the pastry, begin by cutting the butter into small cubes. Add to the flour and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Blend by hand until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add the olive oil, blending well and then 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 or some cling film 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 tins. Bear in mind that buckwheat pastry is extremely crumbly as it contains no gluten to ‘stick’ it together. You’ll probably need to patch and press the pastry into the tins as opposed to just cutting and placing it in as you would with normal pastry. Precook the pastry for 10 minutes.

Fill the tarts with the shallots, garlic and tomato slices, finishing up with a slice of goats cheese on top. Season and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are ‘mushy’ and the cheese has melted.

Basque Chicken

Our multi-talented Spanish carpenter, who my husband disparagingly refers to as the ‘poet’ (as in Real Men Don’t Do Poetry), gave us several jars of his home-made spicy tomato sauce, which my son then referred to as ‘ketchup in a jar’. Between them, husband and son make quite sure that neither carpenter nor tomato sauce get too up themselves.

Poulet Basquaise should really be made with Espelette pepper, which is a cross between paprika and chilli pepper, and is a speciality of the village of Espelette in the Basque country.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken thighs and 4 legs

1 tin of peeled tomatoes (or homemade if possible)

1 tin of white beans

4 cloves of garlic

1 onion

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 bell pepper

1 cup of black olives

olive oil

sprig of rosemary

1 glass of white wine

seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, paprika, chilli powder or if possible Espelette pepper)

Chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms and add to the olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish. Cook until golden and then add the chicken pieces, which should also be cooked until golden-brown on both sides. Add the wine, herbs and seasoning and cook for about 2 minutes so that the chicken can absorb the wine. Add the tomatoes and heat until simmering. Lastly add the beans and olives and cook in a medium oven (150°C) until the tomatoes begin to caramalise (just under two hours).

Poulet Basquaise is usually served with sauté potatoes or rice, although I often serve it with polenta and a crisp green salad.