Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Reclaiming the kitchen - Quick (& Chaotic) Portuguese Custard Tarts

We got back from camp on Friday afternoon and I'd been mega-organised so that for the first few days back, I didn't really have to do much in the way of cooking. Yes, I know I maxed out with a pretty splendid pavlova (yes, i do say so myself) on Saturday night for the post-camp post-mortem, but we had quiche on Sunday night, Nigella's African Chicken drumsticks on Monday night (already frozen in the marinade a couple of weeks' ago with that meal in mind, so I just had to de-frost and cook some rice) and fresh tortelloni (also stashed in the freezer) last night. The rest of the time, we have been eating up the leftovers from the camp itself and from Saturday's BBQ. While this has all made my life much easier in some respects (back at work, settling la BF* in, catching a modest amount of sporting endeavour...) I have felt strangely adrift, especially with someone French to feed.

Today it was time to reclaim the kitchen. Lemon & rosemary pork steaks with corn on the cob along with, from the garden, new potatoes and a 'medley of beans' (broads, dwarf French, purple beans, borlotti), and to follow, Quick Portuguese Tarts from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals.

Now, I don't own a copy of 30 Minute Meals - it kind of passed me by as a cook book - but I was browsing in the library the other day while the kids picked their summer reading challenge books (and sulked because I wouldn't let them choose DVDs) and I picked it up. I was strangely drawn in and before I knew it, I was checking it out, along with a book of curry recipes by Anjum Anand.

I'm probably the last to know this, but the premise of 30 Minute Meals is that you can cook a delicious 2 course meal from scratch in 30 minutes. Apparently, "... It’s about being organised, working fast and using shortcuts and clever tricks to put insanely delicious plates of food on the table in no time.". I read the introduction quite carefully, because I wanted to make sure I'd got it right. Then I read some of the recipes.

The food itself looks great. Very Jamie Oliver, good meals. I’ll definitely be trying some of them – I might even buy the book, But 30 minutes? Really? And after a hard day’s work? I reckon I’m reasonably handy in the kitchen. I know what’s what, and how to do most of what’s called for in the book, but I am having trouble envisaging how I might whip up any of the menus in the allotted time. However, I’ll reserve judgment on that for now, and ask you to watch this space… 

In the meantime, let me tell you about the Quick Portuguese Tarts that came from the book (I gave you the link again – can you tell that I liked them?).

Now, I remember back in the early Jamie days, making something similar from The Return of the Naked Chef. In fact, I just looked it up and it’s pretty much the same thing, although the 30 minute version is a little more ‘bang, crash’. You have to extract the recipe from the overall scheme of the instructions because the meal is timetabled as a whole, for the allotted 30 minutes, so it dots back and forward from main to pud and back again, but it’s pretty straightforward to get out the relevant bits. 

You make the pastry cases using puff pastry which you dust with cinnamon, then roll into a sausage, slice up and then squodge out each rolled up piece into a pastry case using a muffin tin as a guide. You bake the cases empty, and then when they come out of the oven all puffed up, you push the middle of the pastry back down so you can spoon in the filling – a mix of crème fraiche, orange zest vanilla, sugar and egg. Back in the oven, and while the filling cooks to a wobble, you make a caramel using the juice of the orange and what seems like an obscene amount of sugar. 

Once the tarts are cooked, you whip then out of the oven, drizzle over the caramel and leave to cool.

They are delicious. Pink didn’t like hers, but she’s funny with things like that. The recipe made 6 and they all went, even though I was hoping to keep one aside to send the Husband to work with tomorrow. I also managed to make a satisfying amount of mess as I went. Jamie advocates clearing as you go into the sink. Sorry Jamie - I think I may have fallen at the first hurdle...

*la baby-sitter francaise


  1. Ah! You gave it a shot then!! That's exactly how I use the book too. Pick and choose. Good results though, eh. Annie

  2. I'd buy his cookbook before Racheal Ray's. I find her annoying.

  3. I love Jamie's 30 minute meal book - a must have book for busy people. I must say I haven't made the Portugeuese tarts, but all the chicken dishes are fantastic, as well as the pasta dishes x

  4. Annie - oh yes,they were great!

    Chunklet - I haven't heard of Racheal Ray, or her book. I had a look on Amazon and 30 Minute Meals isn't yet a bargain in the second hand section, but I think i will get it;

    Miss Flash - good to hear that; the recipes do look great, I'm just a little worried about the whole production line approach. The book's probably not aimed at me because I'd cook anyway, but it seems a little 'wham bam' (typical Jamie I suppose)

  5. Anyone who includes a recipe for Portugese custard tarts in their book, 30 minutes or not, will find a welcome space on my bookshelf! :)

  6. I've also had this book on loan from the library, got a few recipes bookmarked to try :-) The tarts look lovely!

  7. I've decided to do a whole 30 minute meal sometime next week and see if I can get it to work :-)


I LOVE comments - please leave one. Unfortunately, I have been getting hideous amounts of SPAM so please can you do the word verification thingy?