Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Tart


I suspect that the year might be reaching its end when it comes to pastry making. The weather is slowly but surely actually warming up and we’re getting more than one day of blue sky and sunshine in a row.

Dealing with pastry in hot weather is a bit of a nightmare – not to mention that you then need to turn on your oven – so I’m going to have to get some baking out of my system sooner rather than later.

Thanks to having some hot-smoked salmon and some asparagus very fortuitously hanging around in the fridge (the salmon had been marked down and I’d forgotten to put the asparagus in something else) this tart (or quiche) was an easy dinner option. Thanks to having a trusty food processor, I even put in the effort to make my pastry. And thanks to having a new and as yet unused tin I even put in the effort to blind-bake. Something I frequently neglect.

You can’t really go wrong with tarts – bung in some kind of filling you like, top with eggs and cream and the job’s done. You’re going to like it (they’re like omelettes or frittatas but with a bit more faff on account of the pastry). With this recipe, do not look at the inclusion of the mozzarella, think it’s a bit weird and be tempted to omit it (or was that just me?) – it definitely adds to the richness of the finished product. And load up with as much dill as you can handle … because, well, it’s just delicious!

For us, this served three. We ate half and then shared a third quarter, leaving the final quarter for Master 5’s dinner the following day.

Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Tart


  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Tart
  • Bunch of asparagus, chopped into chunks and steamed
  • hot-smoked salmon - as much as you can afford or have left over
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp (or even more) finely chopped dill
  • 100g mozzarella, shredded/grated
  • 6 eggs (yes, really)
  • ¼ cup cream
  • pepper to season


  1. To make the pastry, process the flour, butter and a pinch of salt together until crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and process again, before adding a little cold water so that it comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 170°C fan.
  3. To blind bake, grease a 23 cm tart tin, roll out the pastry and line the tin then prick the base with a fork. Cover with a piece of baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking paper and beans and bake for another 5-10 so that the bottom is golden too.
  4. Allow to cool.
  5. When you're ready for dinner, flake the hot-smoked salmon over the base of the tart, follow it with the asparagus, dill, spring onions and mozzarella.
  6. Beat together the eggs and cream and season with pepper. Pour into the tart and then bake for 25-35 minutes until just set.
  7. Serve with a salad and feel virtuous, as you'll be getting tons of your 5-a-day.

Asparagus Risotto with Salmon

Spring Risotto

I think that one of the most essential go to recipes in someone’s culinary repertoire is risotto. To make a tasty risotto requires so few ingredients (if you’re pushing it, rice, onion, cheese and water is all you really need), and while it’s not quick to prepare, it’s not difficult.

And hey – who minds standing at the stove stirring a pot if you’ve got a glass of wine in hand?

I’d come home from the shops with quite a collection of goodies and, combined with what was in the fridge, offered Andy his choice of risotto fillings. Does risotto have a filling? Is it a topping? Flavouring? Whatever.

He chose asparagus and salmon. When we lived in England, the few precious weeks of summer where you could buy English asparagus (rather than the sad, thin specimens airfreighted in from Peru) were very exciting. Australian asparagus doesn’t seem to be as ephemeral but it’s still lovely to see it in the shops because it must mean summer is here.

For two people, warm some olive oil in a saucepan and add half a large leek, finely chopped, and one clove of garlic, crushed. Cook gently until soft (you most certainly don’t want brown bits!) and add 150g of risotto rice. This can be Arborio (probably the cheapest and most readily available), Carnaroli or Vialone Nano if you’re really pushing the boat out.

Stirring, cook the rice in the oil for a bit – it will start to go slightly transparent. Now, pour yourself that glass of wine and begin adding the stock. The stock should be on a very gentle simmer. I use those little pots of jellied stock that are available (and, after some very salty gravy the other week, I’ve just switched to REDUCED SALT – but sssh, don’t let my dad know!). Use what suits. At a push, you can use water.

Add the stock a ladleful at a time and stir until it’s fully absorbed. Then add another ladleful. I’m not too fussed about constant stirring but I do make sure that the rice gets a good move around the pan. Just don’t add more stock until the first lot is absorbed. If I start to run out of stock, I top it up with hot water. You could also add white wine.

I steamed the asparagus, cut into bite size pieces and I’d pan fried the salmon earlier in the day (rather a lot of salmon!). Once the rice was cooked – and I really can’t give you any guidelines here, you’re going to have to taste it and work it out for yourself – I added 2 generous tablespoons of pure cream (normally I used mascarpone but the shop didn’t have any) and a big pile of grated parmesan. If you like your risotto a little looser than it’s turned out, add more stock, a splash of white wine, or more cream.

Finish by stirring in the asparagus and the flaked, cooked salmon.

Serve topped with yet more grated cheese and plenty of pepper. See? You don’t even remember all that stirring, do you?

Want a more traditional risotto recipe? Try Risotto all’Isolana, which uses Italian sausages (or pork mince, if you’re in a pinch!).

Asparagus and Bacon Tart


This is a quick midweek supper: supplement it with a salad and make sure you don’t eat it all as it’s delicious cold for lunch the next day!

Asparagus has a short season – this was beaten into me while living in England when everyone (well, everyone interested in food) goes a bit mental banging on about the 6 weeks of the year you can buy English asparagus.  Anyway, it’s asparagus season now in Australia and you can should be able to pick some young tender stalks up cheaply.

This is another proper storecupboard meal – once you have your asparagus everything else you’ll probably have hanging around the house.

Begin by making your pastry (or, grabbing some pre-made shortcrust from the freezer).  I always make shortcrust because, with the aid of a food processor, it’s so quick it’s a shame not to.

My basic recipe is 150g of plain flour, 75g cold, unsalted butter, 1 egg yolk (use the white to make meringues!), a pinch of salt and cold water to bring it all together.  Rest in the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm, for half an hour or so.  This makes enough pastry for  a 23cm (or so) tart tin.  If you have the will, bake it blind – it does really pay off with a nice crispy base!

For the filling, chop and fry 2 rashers of bacon.  Spread this evenly over the base of the pastry case.  Now add your fresh, roughly chopped asparagus.  You might want to reserve 3 or 4 spears for decoration – you might not.  I used the best part of 2 bunches of young asparagus.

Whisk together 5 eggs, add a generous couple of tablespoons of thick cream, and season with pepper (no salt!).  Pour over the bacon and asparagus, top with some grated parmesan and some grated cheddar and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C fan (or 180°C normal) for about half an hour – until the egg is puffed up and the tart is golden.

You don’t need to serve this piping hot – as the warmer weather approaches, room temperature would be perfectly acceptable. The tart filling will sink back a bit as it cools, but it will still look – and tast – fantastic.