Leiths School of cookery





Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year

the renowned Leiths School of Food

and Wine is presenting four new books.

Written by experts at the school, they are

the most up-to-date, comprehensive and

authoritative illustrated cookery books on

the market. The series includes How to

Cook Pastry, How to Cook Bread, How

to Cook Desserts and How to Cook

Cakes. They are published by Quadrille

and will cost £15 each. The easy-touse recipe

books covers a skill at the

heart of the Leiths cookery repertoire,

taking you through every aspect of the

dish's preparation and cooking. Each title

includes more than 70 recipes, carefully

chosen by the authors to highlight

contemporary dishes from cuisines

worldwide, as well as great classics with

a modern twist. The recipe featured here

is from How to Cook Pastry (you'll need

to get the book to see the recipe for the



Asparagus, speck and pecorino tart (serves 4-6)

1 quantity rich herb shortcrust pastry

Extra flour, to dust

12 fine asparagus spears, or 6 thicker


120g Pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese

5 slices of 6-month aged Speck

1 egg, plus 2 extra yolks

250ml double cream

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

A few chives, to finish

1 Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm thickness and

use to line the loose-based rectangular flan tin. Cover with cling film and chill in

the fridge until firm to the touch, 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to

200°C/gas mark 6.

2 For the filling, bend the lower end of each asparagus stalk until it snaps, and

discard the lower woody ends. Trim the spears with a sharp knife so they are

all the same length. If the spears are thick, peel off the skin from the lower half

using a swivel peeler and cut them in half lengthways. Grate the Pecorino, tear

the Speck into large pieces and set aside.

3 Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and blanch the asparagus for 1

minute. Drain quickly and refresh under very cold water to stop the asparagus

cooking and to fix the vibrant green colour. Pat dry with kitchen paper and set


4 Place the flan tin on a baking sheet and blind bake the pastry case for 15-20

minutes (see page 20), then remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and feels sandy to the touch. If it is

starting to take on colour, move it to a lower oven shelf. Remove from the oven

and reduce the oven temperature to 150°C/gas mark 2.

5 Put the whole egg, yolks and cream into a small bowl and mix well with a

fork, then pass through a sieve into a bowl. Add 80g of the grated Pecorino,

then taste and season with salt and white pepper (bearing in mind that Speck

and Pecorino are both quite salty).

6 Pour the egg, cream and cheese mixture into the tart case. Arrange the

pieces of Speck in an even pattern on top, leaving enough room for the

asparagus spears. Place the asparagus spears in between the pieces of ham

and scatter over the remaining Pecorino.

7 Carefully transfer to the lower third of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes

until the custard is pale yellow and just a little soft in the centre. To check, give

the tart a little shake; there should be no violent wobble in the centre. (An overcooked filling will rise up and feel springy to the touch.)

8 Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet, then

remove the tart from the tin and slide onto a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or

at room temperature. Just before serving, finely chop enough chives to give

about 1 tbsp, and sprinkle them over the top of the tart.


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