And because it is Christmas soon and we all really love food (you would not be reading a food blog if that was not the case, right?), over the next couple of weeks I will give you a few recipes that are nice little additions to a Christmas meal.
Last weekend, I headed off to Kilkenny to meet with my lovely friend Rebekah of Honeysuckle Life. We had been planning our little lifestyle and food session for a while now. Check out her blog over the next couple of weeks too to find some lovely ideas for food and decoration. We chose to work with the theme of wood, copper and white for this Christmas. The colours and materials are very complementary and warming.
I start my list of delicious food for Christmas with a recipe for a simple vegetarian tartlet. Some of our Australian friends are spending Christmas with us this year and one of them is vegetarian. I feel it is very important to offer some lovely vegetarian options for our guest. This tartlet is great as a starter. Some mini versions of it would also do wonderful little appetisers. The leek is melted with white wine and cream, some carrot ribbons are added for a bit of crunch and colour. Choose a delicious vegetarian goats cheese to crumble on top and voilà! You have something very tasty to serve to your vegetarian friends.
Small note: when you buy the cheese, make sure it is made with vegetarian rennet instead of animal rennet. There are some good options in shops. I personally chose an Irish one called Ryefield.
Ingredients (serve 6)
150g leek (cut in julienne - see in frying pan above)
1 small carrot (peeled in thin ribbons)
100g fresh goats cheese*
1 tbsp butter
50ml white wine
For the shortcrust pastry
100g plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
50g diced unsalted butter
25g cold water
1 pinch salt
1. To make the dough, put the plain flour, salt and butter in a large bowl. Mix with your fingers until you get a fine crumb. Make a well in the centre and pour in the cold water. Knead the ingredients together to shape the dough, flatten it and wrap in clingfilm. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and put the butter in. When it has melted, add in the leek julienne and stir well with a wooden spoon. Pour in the white wine and mix. Cook for 10 minutes, giving a stir every now and then. Add the cream and mix. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt, take off the heat and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Dust a large flat surface with flour. Roll out the dough (about 2 or 3mm thick) and cut out six 10cm-diameter circles (you can use cookie cutters for that or your tartlet tin). Line 6 tartlet tins (10cm diameter) with the small circles of dough. Prick the bottom of each with a fork.
4. Divide the cooked leek between the tartlets. Add in the carrot ribbons. Crumble the goats cheese with your fingers or a fork, divide it between the tartlets on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle some pepper on (I use rainbow pepper but freshly cracked pepper is as good).
Place the tartlets on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes (until the pastry and cheese are golden).
Serve with a side salad as a delicious vegetarian starter on Christmas day (or any time you feel like it).
* I used a goats cheese made with vegetarian rennet. Be careful when you are serving cheese to your vegetarian relatives or friends. You should read the label and make sure no animal rennet is used in the process of making the cheese.