It’s not often that I post about food here, but I probably should share a bit more, since I’m an avid cook. The single life makes it challenging, though, to cook in smaller portions. My favorite things to cook are soups, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and baking (sweets). For the latter I’m known around my office, as I like to share baked goods with colleagues during the semester. These days, I share more with my neighbors, since we still work at home so much.
Here are a couple of savory tarts I made last night with a basic pastry dough. You might know this type of dough as a pâte brisée, the type used for quiches. It’s buttery, flaky, and a satisfying foundation for all types of savory fillings. There’s a good basic recipe here but you can find variations all over the internet. Many recipes tell you to use a food processor for mixing, and I have one, but I prefer to do the mixing by hand with a simple steel-bladed pastry blender.
Some tips that are key to a good (i.e. flaky, not soggy) pastry are to give the bottom an egg wash before par-baking, and when the filling has been added, to bake lifted by an inverted cookie sheet.
After I par-baked these two, I brushed both bottom crusts with pesto, then for the one on the left, I added a custard filling with mozzarella, tomato, and fresh oregano and basil. The one on the right got some pre-cooked spinach, leeks, mushrooms, garlic, cheese, and the egg custard. Baking the filled tarts for about 35 minutes was plenty of time to set them and fill my kitchen with a delicious aroma.
I’ll try sharing more of my cooking in the future. Tomorrow, I’m going to make a wonderful Iranian beef and barley soup called ash-e-jow. I’ve been making this recipe every autumn for a few years now; my recipe comes from a stunning cookbook called Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking, by Najmieh Batmanglij. It is the biggest book I have with me here in Korea 🙂 I’ll try to remember to take photos and share them next time.
Last but not least, two photos from my walk home today. The October afternoon light is beautiful now.