Morcilla is a type of Spanish black pudding. It’s rich and vinous, with almost a smoky edge, and has a dryer, finer grain than a British black pudding.
My friend Dave handed me some last week, with the instruction that although it makes a sensational tapas-ish snack, I’d be doing myself a disservice not to make it into an Alsace tart. He also recommends frying it with broad beans and garlic, which I will be doing at the next available opportunity.
In the end, this was more like a light quiche lorraine, but bloody hell it was good.
A pun is not the best place to start when constructing a recipe. But once I’d had the idea for “tarte aux pommes(de terre)” I couldn’t get it out of my head until I’d made it. The first iteration looked the part – all prettily layered – but didn’t really work as a dish. There was something there, though, and the presentation was too good to let slide; so I did it again, and hit on something that works rather well.
Version one was a basic spinach tart with a potato hat on. There was dill in the mix, aping a spanakopita. But without the feta (I was cooking for my boyfriend, and he’s lactose intolerant) it just doesn’t cohere. Cheese, though, cheese – that’s the key.
Swiss chard may not be especially Swiss, nor is it to everyone’s tastes. But it does go really well with cheese, and since I had some decidedly Swiss raclette left over – and it’s very much to mine – this seemed like a good idea.
Chard has a robust leafy, earthy flavour with a stalky edge some don’t like. This is, of course, more pronounced in the stems. The leaves will wilt down like a stronger, more lettuce-ish spinach. Although they’re tougher and a little waxier.
What that in mind, a variation on an old favourite springs to mind – the rocket and taleggio pie from the indispensable Silver Spoon.
The Delicious Magazine website has a neat looking recipe for a Limoges style potato pie. The basis of it is simple enough – a flat, crimped, two sheet pastry affair of layered potatoes with herbs and shallots. But what got my attention was the liquid filling. A kind of savoury herb custard is poured into the pie midway through cooking. Egg yolks, beaten into warmed cream, go in through a hole in the top crust.
I assume this sets partially through the cooking time but remains a little most, adding a light gravy to a pie that could otherwise be a little dry. A quick Google hasn’t yielded much insight into this particular technique, but the pie sounded splendid, and I thought I’d give it a go.
Of course, I couldn’t help but tinker. My partner suggested “something with potatoes and leeks” for dinner, I’m mildly obsessed with chorizo, and I straight-up forgot the liquid filling was meant to go in part way through. So this is not the Delicious Magazine Limoges-style potato pie. It’s a kind of confused spicy homage.
When I was growing up, we had a phrase, an often-repeated piece of kitchen folk wisdom as trite and fundamentally meaningless as any other: we eat all our disasters.
What can I say? It’s nicer than “shut up and eat it, because there isn’t anything else” – the solidarity of gallows humour for burnt stews and sunken cakes. I’m yet to hear any piece of folk wisdom or street smarts that didn’t reduce either to meaning nothing or just being a memorably pithy example of a logical fallacy. But this one has stuck somehow.
We eat all our disasters. My mother said it a lot, jokingly in the main, as she very rarely miscalculated in the kitchen. She would probably have known better than to attempt yesterday’s lunch.
All of which is a floridly round-about way of saying that I fucked this up but ate it anyway.
It’s a pseudo-quiche of fennel and mozzarella, and it went a little askew. Oh, the flavours worked well enough, I just failed to anticipate quite how much water is locked up in fresh fennel and inexpensive mozzarella.
My boyfriend is lactose intolerant. You can probably imagine that this occasionally makes cooking tricky. I’m not a big fan of food substitutes and fakes – “tofurkey” and mycoprotein dressed as lamb can go hang. Soy milk just doesn’t taste right to me, and the texture always seems off when I cook with it.
Fortunately, there’s lactofree products. This is regular cow’s milk, passed over what I assume will be lactase to remove and break down the lactose, rendering it largely safe. It works, and there’s minimal impact on the taste. Their faux cheddar tastes a bit rubbery and bland, mind, but I can’t fault the milk, cream, or cream cheese.
More importantly, this let me service a quiche craving and win moderate boyfriend points.
It was a cobbled-together and very much from-memory recipe, but here it is. This isn’t quite dairy-free, but for the intolerant rather than the outright allergic, it’s probably fine. That said, I accept no responsibility, please don’t sue me, and so on, and so forth.
I should probably lay off cribbing from the River Cottage Veg Every Day book, but it’s full of tasty, tasty things. Many of them, like the spring onion galette on p220, are very simple tasty things. As such they merit cooking as-is, but they also make a great starting point for a spot of extemporization.
In this case, that involves some courgettes and pesto; nothing too flash: