The beginning of this year was fairly full on in our house. Exhausted, yet with much partying to be done, something had to give. There were a few more take aways, leftovers began taking up permanent residence in the fridge and the cupboards seemed to be filling up with food that I couldn't find the time to cook. The nap-avoiding Baby R had reverted to newborn sleeping patterns and I was bumbling from day to day on a few hours broken sleep (and gin, always gin). When we finally surfaced some time in late February the kitchen cupboards were fit to burst. Leftovers from catering for my birthday tea party, tins that had just kept arriving in the weekly shop, half packets of five different types of rice.
Ridiculous really for someone who usually uses up every last scrap of leftovers.
So I set about cooking and eating the cupboards. Family meals created to use up all of those odds and ends of pulses, grains, frozen scraps of fish, limp herbs and vegetables way past their best. It's quite a cathartic process - stripping everything back, being creative and avoiding waste (before starting all over again). A handful of the more photogenic meals made it onto my instagram feed under the hashtags #cookingthecupboards and #eatingthecupboards.
Returning from my (all too brief) trip to visit my sister in Vietnam and back in my kitchen this week I found some sad looking leeks which I'd ordered from Farmdrop before I left, a handful of leftover Jersey Royals and that packet of Rude Health sprouted spelt flour which has been slowly creeping to the top of the cooking the cupboards list (slowly, simply on account of the fact it hadn't yet been opened and therefore could wait patiently a little longer…).
Galettes are a great starting point if you're new to baking tarts or quiches. No careful precision or blind baking required. Simple and rustic (or rough and ready, whichever way you look at it). I usually bake sweet galettes, so this recipe is my first foray into the savoury sort. They are relatively quick to make and bake too, making them a good option for family meals, packed lunches or weekend picnics.
Jersey Royals really are the kings of the potato world. Their distinctive flavour works so well in this tart, but if you can't get them they can be substituted with other new potatoes. The best Jersey Royals to buy are the ones still covered in mud and soil which protects them in transit. Just wash gently to help keep their papery skins intact.
The sprouted spelt flour from Rude Health is delicious in this pastry and combined with the roasted hazelnuts gives the pastry an intense, rich nutty flavour. And it's also really good for you. It is more expensive than normal spelt (or other flour) though, but definitely worth trying. If you'd rather stick with what is already in your cupboards, rather than buy more ingredients, then you can replace the 160g with standard plain flour or spelt flour, but I'd opt for wholegrain (or a mixture) rather than all white.
For the pastry:
30g blanched hazelnuts
160g Rude Health sprouted spelt flour
80g unsalted butter
pinch of salt (optional)
50ml cold water
For the filling:
500g leeks, washed and trimmed
1 tbsp groudnut oil
4 or 5 Jersey Royal potatoes (or other new potatoes), cooked and sliced
1 large free range egg
3 tbsp double cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
75g mature cheddar, grated
salt to taste (optional)
1 tbsp parmesan or vegetarian equivalent, grated
1 free range egg, beaten (to glaze)
1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (to serve)
Begin by making the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
Put the hazelnuts on a small baking tray and roast for 7-8 minutes until golden. Leave to cool completely then put them into a food processor or blender and pulse until finely ground.
Put the flour, salt (if using) and butter in a mixing bowl and rub together with your finger tips until they resemble breadcrumbs. Stir through the ground hazelnuts. Add the cold water, a little at a time, and bring together to form a ball, handling the pastry lightly and as little as possible. Flatten into a patty, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Slice the leeks into 5mm rounds and wash thoroughly in several changes of water. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and then the leeks. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the leeks are soft but still have a little bite. Put to one side to cool.
In a small bowl beat together one egg, double cream, mustard, black pepper and salt (if using). Stir in the cooled leeks.
Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment or a silicone liner. Roll the pastry out until it is about 3mm thick and lay it on the baking sheet. If you're using the sprouted spelt flour you may find that it is a little tricky to roll out as it can be quite fragile. Any little cracks can be squished back together - so long as there are no big holes or cracks for the filling to leak through you're winning.
Scatter the grated cheddar onto the pastry, leaving a 4-5 cm gap all the way around the edge. Spread half of the leek mixture over the top of the cheese, followed by a layer of sliced potatoes and finish with the rest of the leek mixture. Top with the grated parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent).
Carefully fold the edges of the pastry over the filling, making little tucks where needed and plugging any little tears or holes as you go. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is cooked. Transfer to a wire rack. Sprinkle with the chopped toasted hazelnuts and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.