Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart

Last year I learnt:

1 Why people wear coloured socks. It's not, as I previously thought, because they are insufferable optimists, looking to display their sunny personality through their jazzy footwear. Rather, it is so they don't end up wearing odd socks (one black sock does look so much like the other one and yet they are alwas fundamentally different in size and texture). And there is something really massively unsatisfactory about wearing odd socks. So I now have a lot of very colourful socks, and always wear matching pairs, and very zen I feel about it, too.

2 I cannot control events with the power of my mind. When I went to see Dr O with my nervous breakdown, I explained to her that I feel very superstitious about my anxiety. "I believe that if I worry enough about something, then it will not happen," I said. Dr O looked at me. "So what you are telling me," she said, "is that you can control events just with the power of your mind?" "No!" I shrieked. "It's more complicated than that." But it wasn't. That is what I believed. I don't believe that any more, and I am much less anxious. But I worry that I am less interesting.

3 I am not good at being flexible. When Kitty was very tiny I lived my life and hers by the clock. I'm talking to the second. From the outside it probably looked really mad but I was terrific at it and it worked. I never had to fret over whether she was hungry or tired because she was never hungry or tired because she was fed before she was ravenous and in her cot before she was hysterical. But now Kitty is nearly one and she's more of a real person rather than a blob and some days, like the rest of us, she is more tired or more or less hungry than others. So now I have to do a thing where I have to make about a million little decisions, from day to day, about whether this is one of those days that she needs to go back to bed at 9.45am for a little kip, or whether she can make it until lunchtime. And just between you and me, I hate it.

4 Being a lazy shitbag is okay only for so long. I am a quitter, through and through. I hate making an effort at anything, it causes me genuine pain. I don't like doing exercise, or "sticking at" things. When I think about having to put my clothes away at night I want to cry, so I don't and they pile up on the chair next to my bed until on morning, usually on a Sunday, it even repulses me so much that I do something about it. But last year, I had to persevere at some stuff. I couldn't give Kitty up for adoption, because everyone would know what I'd done and be SO unsympathetic. And I had to keep wearing my stupid fucking teeth braces to correct my teeth because both my husband and my dentist, Handsome Richard, made such an almighty fuss about me giving up. But now Kitty is so much less of a hassle than she was and my teeth are near as damnit straight that I now, with great reluctanct, admit that perseverence might not just be for massive square martyrish losers after all.

And so it is with dinner. The past few months have seen me so incredibly uninspired about food in general and dinner that I am just doing the same old things over and over again. It was mostly because I couldn't be BOTHERED to think about it. I would mull over our dinner options for about three minutes and as soon as I had settled on an old favourite I would just go with that.

But on the way to the shops yesterday I really thought about it and came up with a couple of things we really haven't ever had before, or hadn't had in ages. They don't comply with my husband's usual cry for things to be purchased from the Ginger Pig, or to be carb-free, but there's no time for that kind of dicking about this year. We must have variety, and vegetables, or we will all go mad.

So I did a very obvious dinner thing last night that was nonetheless really nice. It was very lazy pub-starter stuff - just a slab of ready-made puff pastry flattened and goat's cheese and roasted tomatoes on top. But, you know, it was really terrific and terribly easy and I'll be doing it again. If I can be bothered.

Goat's cheese and roasted tomato tart

2 packs Capricorn goat's cheese
1 slab ready puff pastry (I get Waitrose own, which comes in two slabs. One of those, rolled out a bit, is enough for 2 people.)
1 string of baby tomatoes on the vine
1 egg
some mint, if you have
salt and pepper
semolina for dusting

1 Shove the tomatoes in the oven for an hour at 180 with olive oil and salt at some point during the day.

2 When ready for dinner roll out the puff pastry to a longer-ish oblong. Dust a baking sheet with semolina to stop the pastry from sticking. Beat an egg in a bowl and brush the pastry all over with about a third of the eggwash.

3 In a bowl combine the torn-up goat's cheese (rind on or off, it's up to you), the tomatoes, some mint, salt and pepper and the rest of the beaten egg. Then pile up in a fat straggly line along the centre of your oblong (as it cooks it will melt and spread out and you don't want it to slop over the edges of the pastry).

4 Shove in a 180 oven for about 20 minutes. We ate this with Polpo's courgette salad (also on this blog).

Yes yes I know a lot of you will be rolling your eyes at the obviousness of this, but as my husband always says "The perfect is the enemy of the good".


  1. How do you stop the pastry being raw beneath the mixture? Any version of this I ever attempt is always inedible because of this.

  2. These are always dead good - pear and stilton is lovely too. Plus, it's a bit like party food (if I'm feeling fancy and don't simply chuck peanuts at everyone and tell them to look in the cupboards for custard creams) so everyone always coos about them.

    I am massively cheered by your post - I hope you can be bothered to keep blogging, because you're really very good at it.


  3. Jane you are possibly not rolling the pastry out thin enough. If you think you ARE rolling the pastry adequately thinly, what you can do is put your baking sheet in a hot oven for a few minutes to get very hot and then lay the pastry on it, add the topping and stick back in the oven to cook through. That will kick-start the cooking underneath... if none of that works, I suggest that your oven is broken.

  4. Ah, that sounds like a good tip. Thanks so much.

  5. I'm with you on the socks, although I can't bring myself to flash colourful things around my ankles so I've compromised and have black socks with fancy different coloured heels and toes so I can match.

    The recipe does sound delicious and just my kind of thing, although Mr W hates cooked goats cheese so I'll have to save it for a girls night in.

  6. This is a favourite of mine when I can't really be arsed thinking of anything and am tempted to just get a frozen pizza and hate myself for the rest of the week. Pretty much any combination of cheese and tomatoes and a bit of veg works, and I get to pretend like I cooked something proper because it tastes nice.
    Glad you're back, it got weird checking your page every day compulsively with nothing new to read.

  7. I realised I was doing exactly the same stuff as you cooking wise, i.e. cooking safe stuff I didn't really have to think about. Then I remembered that I made a new year's resolution to cook everything from Nigella's Kitchen book last January, so re-started it in November. It was great because I didn't have to think much, but we still got to eat stuff that was more interesting than the same half dozen dishes I'd been trotting out for months. Over Christmas I stopped and immediately went back to the boring things. Now even the children have requested I take up and finish the Nigella challenge again they're so bored.

    When I've finished Nigella I've decided I'm working my way through Nigel Slater's oeuvre.

    The goat's cheese recipe is delicious.

  8. I saw this on my way to the supermarket, and somehow left M&S with only puff pastry and and fresh basil. Added some chopped leftover bacon, red peppers and mushrooms. Yummy! Thanks for the inspriation.

  9. I am a puff pastry in slabs convert. I made palmiers at Christmas. PALMIERS. Everyone cooed so I went along with it and didn't let on they are a piece of culinary piss to make. Then I had wine and told them all. Still, it felt good to be a domestic whizz for about an hour.

  10. I do that - worry incessantly and obsessively about things, as some kind of whacked out insurance policy against said things actually coming to pass.
    Weird thing is it often works - either I can control events with the power of my mind, or I worry too much about ridiculous stuff which is never going to happen ;)

  11. Welcome back! My OCD checking your blog paid off tonight! Sounds like a great easy & fast recipe. Will try it tomorrow night.

  12. I do exactly the same thing - i.e. believe that if I worry enough about something it won't happen. I've done it for most of my life. Sometimes I feel it's taking over my life. I'd love to just be able to let that go. How did you do it?

  13. I went to see a shrink once a week for 5 weeks

  14. The perfect is the enemy of the good". Is a quote from Voltaire

  15. I used to believe that if I changed my actions I could modify the outcome of an event. For example, when I was young if someone was upset by something and I was in my room reading a book I believed if I changed how I was sitting or went back to what I was doing before they were mad then they would stop being mad. Ok, writing that down makes me sound insane. But in my defence, I was a child. In terms of socks, my brother deliberately wears mismatching socks, except when playing football. It doesn't matter if you can see his socks, he doesn't care. He obviously obtains his zen somewhere else in life.

    Thank you for the recipe, I so needed new recipes and I eat goats cheese with practically everything. Tacos, pasta, salads. I think my new thing will be tarts- had a delicious salmon and goats cheese tart today and will definitely be trying this next week. For Jane, can I also suggest a pizza tray? The ones with little holes all over the bottom crisp up the pastry base while it cooks.