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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parma Ham and Asparagus Tart

A little tart inspired by the latest food trend - 'Umami': which can be loosely translated as ‘delicious savoury taste’ and is the latest food craze to hit the Western world. Traditionally, we have always understood that there are 4 basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but ‘Umami’ is thought to be the 5th taste – the epitome of savoury. ‘Umami’ rich ingredients include: truffles, Parmesan, shellfish, cured hams such as Parma ham, mushrooms, fish sauce, soya sauce and asparagus.

Parma Ham and Asparagus Tart

140g Sasko Cake flour
80g Butter (chilled and cut into cubes)
Pinch salt
60ml Cold water

180g Mini asparagus spears
70g Parma ham
250ml Cream
1 extra large Egg plus 1 egg yolk
50g Parmesan cheese (finely grated)

Pop the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the water and blitz until the pastry comes together to form a ball.
Cover with Clingfilm and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180*C and grease a 23cm round tart pan with a removable bottom.
Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll the pastry out to fit the tart pan.
Transfer the pastry to the tart pan and gently press the pastry into the sides -leave a slight overhang of pastry incase the pastry shrinks slightly, which you can cut off after baking.
Poke a few wholes around the base of the pastry with a fork and bake blind* for 20 minutes.
Then bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting off any stray edges.
Blanch the asparagus in a pot of salted, boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Whisk together the egg, cream and Parmesan and season with a little black pepper (there is a lot of saltiness coming from the Parma ham and Parmesan so there’s no need for added salt).
Pour half the egg mixture into the base of the tart and top with half the asparagus and all of the Parma ham, then pour over the remainder and decorate the top with the remaining asparagus spears.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the filling is set in the centre and the edges of the pastry are golden brown.
Serve with a simple salad.

Tip 1: Always use cold butter and water and allow the dough to chill in the fridge before rolling out as this allows the dough to relax and stops it from toughening and shrinking during cooking.
Tip 2: To stop the dough from sticking as you roll it out rotate it between rolls – this will also help you create a uniform circle.
Tip 3: The best way to transfer the dough to the tart dish is to roll it loosely around the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart case.

*Baking Blind: This allows the pastry to cook without browning – cover the pastry with a circle of baking paper and weigh it down with baking weights/dried beans/uncooked rice.

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