Wednesday, 6 February 2008

how much would you pay for a slice of leek tart?

My full-time job is a project manager/scrum master at WeeWorld. I was lucky to get my job at WeeWorld. It's a cool mix of people who care a lot about what they do, and do it well.

Still, for me professionally it has felt a bit like a step backwards. I had hoped to leave project management forever once we moved to Scotland. I went to catering college and started working in kitchens. It was hard work but i loved it and time just disappeared when i was in the kitchen. The problem was the food industry notoriously pays ridiculous wages. So after thinking long and hard I decided to take the job at WeeWorld.

I've lately been thinking up different schemes to fit in cooking and the WeeWorld job. This blog is one artefact of that. The latest idea i've been playing around with is bringing in home cooked lunches for the team to have during the week. I figure i can leave it to them to donate what they think it's worth and see how it goes.

Yesterday I brought in a slice of this leek tart and casually asked around how much my co-workers would be willing to pay if they bought it take-away from a local shop. Let's just say that I would only need to sell 3 slices to break even (not including overhead.

The recipe comes from Twelve: A Tuscan Cookbook by Tessa Kiros. It's a gorgeous cookbook with stunning photographs. For each month she includes a diary-like intro describing the sights, smells and tastes of the Tuscan countryside at that time of year. The recipes are easy to follow. This is the book where I got the Budino di Semolino recipe that I made last month.

Shortcrust Pastry(enough for a 26cm tart tin)
200 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
100g chilled, unsalted butter, diced
2-3 Tbsp cold water

Leek Tart
3 leeks, about 800 g, trimmed and cleaned
3 Tbsp olive oil
250ml white wine
3 eggs
150 g grated parmesan cheese
125 ml cream

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually work in enough water to form a soft dough. Alternatively, whizz together the flour, salt and butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Add well chilled water through the feed tube 1 Tbsp at a time and keep whizzing until the dough starts to come together

  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.

  3. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and fit into the tart tin. Make sure the edges are smooth. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes to chill.

  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4. Take the pastry out of the fridge and prick the base all over with a fork. Line the base with parchment paper and use baking weights or dried beans to cover the surface. This help keep the pastry from shrinking.

  5. Place the pastry on a tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the baking weights and parchment paper and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.

  6. Meanwhile make the filling. chop leeks and sauté in olive oil until soft. Season. When lightly golden add white wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add 250 ml water and sauté another 10 minutes and no liquid left. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

  7. Beat eggs and add leeks, cream and parmesan cheese. Season to taste.

  8. Pour the filling into the baked tart shell and return to the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is brown and the filling is set.

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