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I’ve been eating a lot of boeuf bourguignon recently. Can’t get enough of it. Anyway, it means that I have a constant supply of chestnut mushrooms and lardons. It’s that time of year, where all I want to eat is salty, earthy, soupy dishes. However, even I got fed up with having soups and stews for dinner, and as the chickens are almost threatening to stop laying again for a few weeks over winter; I thought best to honour their eggs with a toothsome tart.

The Tart – Serves 6 – 8

Shortcrust pastry

1 fennel bulb, chopped

Dozen or so small chestnut mushrooms

Handful of lardons

Half a dozen cherry tomatoes

4 whole garlic cloves, gently squashed

Large sprig of thyme

Glug of olive oil

Glug of balsamic vinegar

200g ricotta cheese

3 eggs

100g double cream

½ block of goats’ cheese, cut into cubes

To Serve:

Watercress, rocket (thank you garden) and avocado salad

Firstly, pre-heat the oven to 150c. Then in a wide, shallow baking dish, throw in the fennel, mushrooms, tomatoes, lardons, garlic and thyme. Pour over the oil and vinegar, season and roast for about 45 minutes (until caramelised and sticky).

Meanwhile, fifteen minutes before the vegetables and lardons are ready; prepare the pastry. Roll it out to just bigger than your tin (about 3-4 mm thickness), and press into the tin. Push a fork into the pastry all over. Then line with baking paper, and pour in baking beans. Leave in the fridge for fifteen minutes, and in the meantime turn the oven up to 180c.

Remove the tin from the fridge and bake blind for ten minutes. Then remove the baking paper and beans, and bake for a further ten minutes.

Next, beat the eggs into the cream and ricotta, and season (heavily). Then tip the vegetables and lardons onto the pastry, then pour over the cream mixture, and finally dot with the cubes of goats’ cheese. Bake in the oven until just set (about twenty to twenty five minutes). Serve either hot, warm or cold!

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