One of the things I’ve really enjoyed since becoming pescatarian is that it’s made me a lot more creative when it comes to choosing what’s for dinner. No more shoving chicken breasts in the oven (which I was guilty of – albeit with different coatings – at least twice a week). I’ve been enjoying reading cookery books and blogs and getting loads of inspiration, and as I’m a pie lover, I thought I would have a go at a more summery version using some smoked haddock I had in the freezer. I’m not usually a cheese with fish fan (I have a long standing debate with a friend about a particularly noxious prawn and feta dish that he loves but I think smells like vomit – sorry), but this haddock and cheddar tart is an exception: the sharp cheese works well with the smoky fish.
Haddock and cheddar tart
For the pastry, you’ll need:
150 g cold butter
300 g plain flour
Freshly ground black pepper
For the filling:
4 smoked haddock fillets
1 bay leaf
200 g prawns (I just use the frozen cooked and peeled ones)
175 g strong cheddar, grated
4 large free range eggs
1 ball mozzarella (optional)
Chives or parsley
First, make the pastry: cut the cold butter into cubes, and add it to the flour. Add in the salt and pepper, and then either place in a food mixer or rub in the butter gently with just your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Gently beat the egg with a fork, then add to the butter/flour mixture. Bring together into a soft dough. If it’s really too dry, add a tablespoon or two of cold water. Don’t knead it, just treat it very gently. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
Retrieve the pastry from the fridge, flour the work surface AND your rolling pin really well. Roll out to about 5-6mm thick, moving the pastry around in 1/4 turns as you roll until you’ve got a rough circle. This will prevent the pastry from sticking to the work surface.
Roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie dish. Push it down gently, and use little extra bits to fill any holes or cracks. Pop it back into the fridge until you need it.
For the filling: I like to poach the haddock in milk, but feel free to bake it if you’d rather. Place the haddock fillets in a frying pan, then pour over around 300 ml milk (just enough to roughly cover them). Add in the bay leaf then poach until they’re just starting to fall apart, allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to gas 4/180 degrees.
Mix the cheddar and eggs together, adding a little of the poaching milk (don’t add too much or you’ll get a very soggy bottom on your tart).
Spread out the flaked haddock, prawns and anything else you’re using in the pastry case, then pour over the egg and cheese mixture. I had a ball of mozzarella that needed using up so added thick slices on the top, but that’s totally optional. Add a little extra grated cheddar, sprinkle with whatever herbs you have available, then bake for around 40 – 45 minutes. It won’t be completely firm, but you need to make sure it’s cooked in the middle, so give it a little shake and if it’s still wobbly in the middle, pop it back for five minutes.
Serve with green salad and buttered new potatoes, or allow to cool and it makes perfect picnic food!
If you don’t live with tomato haters, you could add them, along with any number of veggies: peppers, courgette, spinach, olives, leeks. Instead of the haddock, you could try smoked salmon… and of course, if you’re vegetarian just omit the fish. You could add a little pesto too, or some tomato purée.