Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Butternut squash & sage tartlets

Makes 36 mini-tartlets or one 12" tart

- Pastry

250g plain flour
125g butter, pre-frozen
1 egg
2 tbsp iced water
A pinch of salt

- Filling

1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthways. Reserve the seeds - they are a delicious snack if you clean them off, toss in sea salt and olive oil and roast in the oven for a few minutes.
1 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
3 egg yolks (don't forget to freeze the egg whites to use in meringues!)
250ml double cream
200g Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped fresh sage leaves (about a handful)


Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 350 F / Gas 4

1. Season the squash halves, place on a baking tray and then bake for 40-50 minutes until the flesh is soft and tender.

2. Scoop out the squash flesh and with a fork or potato masher, mash it until smooth. Set it aside to cool off.

3. Now for the pastry. Of course you could cheat and use ready made shortcrust, but it is good fun and not as hard as you would think to make your own. Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and grate in the frozen butter. I find this to be a particularly effective method as I have rather hot hands which are great for bread but not so effective for pastry!

4. Rub the butter and flour together very gently so that the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. It is fine for it to look quite lumpy.

5. Mix the egg and iced water and then mix with the flour with a knife.

6. Form the pastry mixture into a ball and wrap tightly with clingfilm before putting it into the fridge to rest for fifteen minutes.

7. Whilst the pastry is resting, you can finish the filling. Beat together the cream, eggs, egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, mashed squash and sage. Season to taste.

8. Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out on a floured work surface, cut into small rounds and fit into mini tart tins. Return to the fridge for a few minutes before taking out and trimming any overhang at the top of the tins. Put a circle of baking parchment into each tart case and fill with a couple of baking beans.

9. Bake the tart cases for ten minutes, then remove the beans and papers and bake for a further three minutes.

10. Once the cases have cooled slightly, add the filling and bake the tarts for twenty minutes at 160c / 310 F. The tartlets should be just set - watch out because they will be hot but very tasty!