A couple of weeks ago, I returned from “A Cheddar Odyssey”, an offering from Cheese Journeys, who, as their name implies, runs tours that combine Culture, Exploration and Cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. It’s one of those trips that beguiles you long after you’ve come back down to earth and returned home. The glories of the English countryside are punctuated with days of wonderful food, wine and drink, great companionship and unbelievable access to people whose lives are completely wrapped in creating superb cheese, ciders, charcuterie and even English wine. (See the link at the bottom of the page and plan your own Cheese Journey. There’s even one in Pennsylvania right after the 4th of July—Father’s Day Gift for your cheesehead? ).
My first adventure began before I’d even arrived in England. Reviewing the video offerings on Virgin Atlantic, I was delighted to find one of particular interest to me. It starred Nadiya Hussain, the winner of the 3rd season of The Great British Baking Show, one of our must-see TV programs. Despite her name and her Muslim faith, Nadiya is resolutely English, born in Luton to Bangladeshi parents. Her gift to baking is her use of ingredients from her culture. She’s been so successful she was named one of England’s 500 Most Influential People by Debrett’s in 2017. She was even invited to bake a birthday cake to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90 birthday.
“Nadiya’s British Food Adventure” was an 8 part series on BBC where Hussain traveled all over Britain, visiting food producers and then cooking using ingredients she’d discovered on her travels. The one that had me at hello is her recipe for “Ploughman’s Cheese Tart”. Here she extolled the virtues of Cheddar and Pickle Relish in a tart shell she’d spiced with Paprika. Despite “Ploughman” implying some ancient roots, the traditional Ploughman’s Lunch of pub fame is a fairly modern phenomenon. In fact, it was invented by an affiliate of J Walter Thompson Advertising to sell more cheese when cheese had fallen out of favor in the 1950s.
“Nadiya’s British Food Adventure” (Michael Joseph 2018) showed up in the first bookstore I could find in Devonshire. And there was her recipe. I did alter it because pickles are prohibited in our kitchen. Instead, I used a glorious Onion Marmalade that I’d bought at the very first Cheddar producer we visited.
The Quicke Family has farmed the same 3000 acres in Newton Saint Cyres, Devon since 1540. Mary Quicke is now its 14th generation cheesemaker. Not only had we met her, but we’d also dined with her and her husband, her daughter, and her Marketing manager, Tom Chatfield, on our tour. This was an example of the wonderful access Cheese Journeys has to Cheesemakers. Since USDA strictly prohibits bringing cheese home in one’s luggage, it was quite a find to discover that Quicke’s Cheese is available at Murray’s Cheese Shop right here in New York. Murray’s also sells it online. (See the link at the bottom of the page.) Unfortunately, the Onion Marmalade is not sold here. But you can find any number of substitutes. I’m about to experiment with Red Pepper Jelly.
The dish most closely resembles a Quiche but one with a surprise sweetness between pastry and custard…that lovely marmalade. It’s not at all hard to make once you’ve got the crust down. Nadiya herself used store-bought pastry dough but if I did that, I’d be disowned. Feel free to use it yourself. But I’ve included a recipe for the shortcrust pastry. This is a wonderful lunch with a green salad. It should be eaten lukewarm or cold. Here is Nadiya’s recipe. I’ve helped a little with grams and oz. But the instructions were so wonderfully English, I left them exactly as written.
Equipment: You will need a 23cm/9in loose-bottomed flan tin.
Short Crust Pastry for 9 inch tart shell
Home Made Short Crust Pastry always trumps store-bought. Here the Paprika puts a little oomph into the crust.
- 145 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tsp Paprika (Sweet, Smoked or Hot per your own taste)
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter (1/4 pound), cut in 1/8-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- Step 1 Put flour, salt and paprika in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor. Add butter and quickly cut it into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Step 2 Add ice water and mix briefly, about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough. Remove dough, shape into a thick disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Bring to cool room temperature before rolling.
- Step 3 To roll, lightly flour dough and counter. Roll out gradually, periodically letting dough rest for a moment before continuing. This makes rolling easier and will keep dough from shrinking back during baking.
- Step 4 Roll dough to a thin round approximately 13 inches in diameter, then trim to make a 12-inch circle (refrigerate and save trimmings for patching). Lay dough loosely into a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, letting it relax a bit. Fold overlap back inside to make a double thickness, then press firmly against the pan so the finished edge is slightly higher than the pan. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour before pre-baking.
Ploughman's Cheddar and Spicy Onion Marmalade Tart
A delightful take on Quiche--this time with a layer of spicy sweet Onion marmalade and the deep rich taste of great English Cheddar Cheese.
- 350g/12oz ready-made shortcrust pastry
- Plain Flour, for dusting
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
- 150ml/5fl oz whole milk
- 200g/7oz onion marmalade (or any jam or jelly you would serve with Cheddar)
- 250g/9oz mature Cheddar, grated
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 180C/355F and put a baking tray in to heat up.
- Step 2 Lay the pastry on a work surface dusted with a little flour, sprinkle the paprika over and knead the pastry lightly until the paprika has been incorporated. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Step 3 Dust the work surface with a little more flour and roll the pastry into a circle that will easily cover the 23cm/9in tin, about the thickness of a pound coin. Lay the pastry over the tin and press it into the edges, right into the grooves, leaving some overhanging.
- Step 4 Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with ceramic baking beans to cover the base. Put the lined tin on the preheated baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the paper and the baking beans and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through and golden-brown.
- Step 5 Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a jug with the milk. Spread the base of the tart shell with sandwich pickle over the base, sprinkle over the grated cheese evenly and pour in the egg mixture. Put the whole tray back in the oven on the middle shelf for 25–30 minutes, until the filling is set with just a very slight wobble in the middle.
- Step 6 Once the tart has cooled enough to handle, trim off the excess pastry using a sharp serrated knife. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The tart is best served warm or cold the next day.
The link to the July 5th-8th Pennsylvania Cheese Journey is https://cheesejourneys.com/philadelphia-and-chester-county-getaway—july-5-8-2018.html
The link to CheeseJourneys itself is www.cheesejourneys.com