Sunday, 30 September 2012

empty fridge challenge #1

cooking to a recipe, for the most part, is probably not overly challenging for most. particularly not in the gastronomically-saturated times of which we live. thanks to neil and nigella, jamie, george as well as a whole host of amateur cooks whose faces are now probably more familiar to us than that of not-so-distant relatives, what was once the domain of the expert and/or stupidly brazen is now as common as a cupcake.

it's all pretty simple really; pick a recipe from your favourite celeb chef's latest hardcover coffee-table book, spend a small fortune at the local markets and gourmet providore on ingredients, and after a few hours in the kitchen of blood, sweat and swearing, you (maybe) have something that roughly resembles the picture in the book.

but what about when your motivation is MIA and your creativity has crawled into bed. or, you're just too lazy/broke/hungover to make the trip out to the shop and want to knock something semi-appetising up with what you have at home?

enter, the empty fridge challenge: tried and tested recipes that not only cobble together what pittance of food remains in pantry and larder, but that also taste surprisingly good.

i blogged about tarts before, so staying in theme and on topic, here's EFC's first conquest: the severely made-under, inexpensive and unsophisticated version of tart. i had all ingredients on hand and it took about 20 minutes to prep.

things you will need:

1 and a bit sheets of shortcrust pastry
3 eggs
3/4 of a cup of milk
dijon mustard (or any mustard you happen to have on hand)
tasty and parmesan cheese
1 onion
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
unremarkable ingredients
guaranteed to be on hand for all

what you will need to do:

preheat oven to 180C and line a 28cm quiche or flan tin (with a removable base) with the pastry. ensure it is pressed into the crimped edges of the tin and that there are no holes. i find it usually takes just over one sheet of pastry to do this. place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and fill the tin with pie weights (or uncooked rice in the absence of pie weights). bake for 10 to 15 minutes and remove from oven.
blind baking: nothing to do
with wearing a bag over
your head.
whilst the pie shell is blind baking, very finely slice the onion. in a small pot or pan, melt 2 large knobs of butter and start to sautee the onion. put the lid on the pot and turn the heat right down, allowing the onions to sweat and turn soft. keep the onions moving so they don't burn. remove from heat once the onions are soft and shiny and stir through 2 teaspoons of mustard.

arrange the cooked onion mixture around the base of the pastry shell evenly. cut a few slices of tasty cheese into smaller squares and arrange on top of the onions. in a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together, then season with salt and pepper. pour over the onion mixture and cheese pieces to cover. if you have it on hand, sprinkle some parmesan over the top, and give it one last spritz of freshly ground pepper. bake in the oven for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown and completely set (a skewer should come out clean).

note: this recipe uses milk instead of cream. the tart will be somewhat lighter in texture, but just as delicious.

the verdict: fabulous!


  1. I never ever blind bake!!! did you? that tart looks sensational! yum!!! guess what you can make them without the pasrty too, which I must try out one day!

  2. blind baking ensures the base of the tart is crispy and not soggy or undercooked! this one tasted amazing!

  3. mine is never soggy though, I find that blind seems like a waste of time.