Sunday – Starter

asparagus and goats cheese tart 
The asparagus season is relatively short and lasts for only 3 months from April through to June and as I try to grow at Chateau du Chiron as many of my own vegetables and fruit as possible I prefer to eat what is in season. 
This tart can be made in advance, the day before or even frozen if you wish to make your Easter Sunday completely stress free. 
Ingredients for 8 people for the pastry 
  • 250g of plain flour
  • 100g of butter
1 whole egg

  • 1 egg yolk 
  • a pinch of salt

  • 50g of grated parmesan
  • small amount of cold water (I usually fill one of the egg shell halves)
  • 1 beaten egg 
for the filling 
  • 12 - 15 asparagus spears
  • 150g of soft goats cheese
  • 4 medium eggs

  • 250g tub of mascarpone
  • 50g of grated parmesan 
  • a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper 
for the ‘sauce mousseline’ 
  • 2 eggs separated
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

  • 300ml of ground nut oil
  • pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees 
If you feel like you just can’t be bothered to make pastry of course you can buy some and roll it out, there is no shame in this but if you feel like making some it can be made very easily in your food mixer as follows. 
Place all of the pastry ingredients minus the cold water in a food mixer and mix with the cutter blade until everything is brought together, its at this stage you may need a little of the cold water to help if it’s a little dry. Don’t keep the blade going too long as the lease worked the pastry is the lighter it will be. 
Remove the pastry from the mixer, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins or until the filling is ready. 
(To make pastry by hand just follow the directions at the bottom of the recipe) 
To make the tart filling trim the ends of the asparagus and place in a large pan of boiling water. reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the stalks are tender then drain and place in the food mixer along with the eggs, mascarpone, salt and pepper. 
By now the pastry should be well rested so it just needs rolling out on a floured surface to about 3 or 4mm thick and larger than your tart tin. To put the rolled pastry into your buttered and floured tart tin (a 28cm in diameter is best) roll the pastry around the rolling pin and unroll on top of the tart tin. Press into the corners and sides of the tin then trim off the excess. Put this back into the fridge to firm up which will reduce any shrinkage when being baked. 
After 30 minutes in the fridge the pastry case is ready to be blind baked which is just a fancy term for baking the pastry case with no filling. This will avoid a soggy bottom which nobody wants do they!! 
Prick the base of the pastry case all over with a fork then line with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans or uncooked rice. Put this in a preheated 180 degrees oven for 15 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and remove the ceramic beans, parchment paper and to ensure the base is extra crispy brush the bottom of the pastry case with the beaten egg and return to the oven for a couple of minutes. 
Take the tart case out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes then break the goats cheese in to 1cm pieces and scatter over the base. Carefully pour the asparagus mixture over the base and return to the oven for around 30 minutes until the filling is set. 
Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the tart and put under the grill for a couple of minutes until its all melted and golden brown. 
I would suggest serving this with a green salad and homemade dressing or to be extra special a ‘sauce mousseline’ which works perfectly with asparagus. 
A ‘sauce mousseline’ is a mayonnaise what has beaten egg whites folded through it to make it light and fluffy. 
To make the sauce mousseline place the egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice in a large bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk until well mixed together then slowly whilst whisking all the time add the oil bit by bit. This will gradually thicken and become mayonnaise. 
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and the gradually fold gently into the mayonnaise so as to not knock the air out of the egg whites. 
Serve this on the side next to the finished tart and salad.