There hasn’t been anything terribly interesting happening in my kitchen lately. The winter has arrived and although it is cold, the days are sunny and still making for perfect walking weather. Going for long walks along the coast where I live is my favourite thing to do. On the mornings I’m not working, after dropping my children at the bus stop, I head off to the cliffs above Bells Beach where the walk is challenging enough to call exercise but beautiful enough to inspire gratitude and a refreshed mindset.
Sometimes after my walk I’ll stop for a cup of coffee in a cafe just to draw out the morning and really revel in that feeling of space and happiness that comes from spending time in nature. These slow mornings turn into slow afternoons spent pottering around in my kitchen making food for my family.
I seem to have fallen into a rhythm of winter comfort cooking. Making food that hardly requires a recipe, it’s just what you do.
There is always garlicky rocket and almond pesto to dollop into thick vegetable soup or spread on toast with a good grating of pecorino. Pears and apples are a constant staple and are delicious stewed slowly with cinnamon to brighten up porridge or make a quick, buttery crumble. Pumpkins roasted with garlic, red onions and woody herbs from the garden wait patiently to be stirred through risotto with pine nuts and gorgonzola or give credibility to a pesto, spinach and (lots of) goat cheese toastie. For the kids lunch boxes there is always a supply of little tarts or quiches made with eggs from the market and whatever greens I get in my veggie box, usually silver beet or kale and for a treat, maple sweetened banana muffins topped with crunchy new season walnuts.
This is the food we love to eat. Simple, seasonal and delicious. We get so much comfort from the familiarity of this kind of food. It helps us connect with the seasons and each other. Preferably around the fire. With a glass of red wine.
I have decided to talk more about this kind of food here on the blog. Firstly, because it is what I actually cook and serve my family and also because, although it’s not fancy or complicated, I think it’s how you want to cook too. Don’t you?
Rainbow Chard Cheddar Tarts
These little tarts are simple but tasty and make a nice change from sandwiches in the lunch boxes. I use good quality, store bought butter puff pastry but you could make your own if you felt like it. I have used rainbow chard here but could easily replace it with spinach, silver beet or kale. Pitted kalamata olives give a lovely salty bite if you can get away with adding them.
- 2-3 sheets of good quality, store bought butter puff pastry or you could use filo pastry
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup of grated cheddar or tasty cheese
- ½ cup of pitted, chopped kalamata olives (optional)
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ a bunch of rainbow chard, washed well, chopped and tough stems removed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- Lightly oil a 12 hole muffin tin and preheat the oven to 180C
- Start by cooking your chard. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the garlic and allow it to cook without going too brown. You want to flavour your oil but if the garlic burns it will taste bitter.
- Add the chopped chard and cook, stirring until it has wilted, around 5 minutes.
- Remove the chard to a colander and discard the garlic. Press the chard so as much liquid as possible drains through the colander. You may even like to use your hands to press it down tightly.
- Using a cup or small bowl, cut 10-12 rounds of pastry that will fit into your muffin tin. Line each hole with a pastry round.
- Place the eggs, milk and cheese in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine well. Add your chard, stir to combine and season it well with salt and pepper. Now is the time to add the olives if you dare.
- Fill the pastry cups up about ¾ of the way, then bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden and puffed up.
- Allow to cool a bit before eating to save the roof of your mouth. Serve them with a bit of salad as a second course to soup or keep them to pop in the lunch boxes. You can store these in a sealed container in the fridge for three or four days.
- Enjoy x