Springtime Asparagus Tart

It’s time for some Springtime tarts and Asparagus is in season.  This one is great as a starter or light lunch, perhaps even for a picnic if the weather (ever) picks up. 

Lemony Asparagus, Potato and Ricotta Tart
You will need

300g puff pastry
200g ricotta
a bunch of asparagus

3 medium sized potatoes
2 eggs
zest of 1/2 lemon
grated Parmesan
 salt, pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

2. Slice the potatoes and bring to boil in salted water.  Simmer until cooked through.  

3.  Remove any tougher ends of the asparagus and steam them for about 5 minutes, until just tender but still with a little bit of bite. 
4. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick into a large rectangular shape.  You don’t have to be too precious about it, it’s a rustic tart, this one.   Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. With a sharp knife, score a line about 3-4 cm in from the edge of the rectangle, creating a ‘frame.’  This will ensure your pastry puffs up around the filling. 
5. In a bowl, mix the ricotta with a good handful of grated Parmesan, lemon zest, one egg and some salt and pepper.  You should have a smooth, custard-like filling.  Spread this all over the ‘framed’ part of the pastry. Arrange the asparagus and potatoes over the filling. 
6. Beat the remaining egg lightly and brush over the outer border of the pastry.   Bake the tart for about half an hour, until puffed, golden and crispy around the outside, and the pastry has cooked through even in the middle. Cool to warm on a wire rack, so it doesn’t go soggy.
7.  Serve with watercress strewn liberally all over the tart.  

Ladies who brunch

Lazy Saturday brunch with friends.  Papers, coffee, juice, cereals and ricotta and spelt pancakes with blackberry and apple compote.  Pretty good.

Lemon and Ricotta Spelt Pancakes with Apple and Blackberry Compote. 
You will Need

    225g Ricotta

      125ml Semi-skimmed milk

         2 Large eggs, separated

          80g Spelt flour

            1 tsp Baking powder

             2 tsp Lemon zest, finely grated

              1 tbsp syrup, golden will do, but maple is best

                2 tsp Sunflower oil

                  Blackberries, 1 small punnet

                    3 Apples, sliced

                      200g sugar

                        100g butter


                             1. For the compote,  ‘fry’ the sugar in the butter over a high heat, until it begins to caramelise.  Then add the fruits and leave to bubble away until soft and caramelised, stirring occasionally. 

                            2. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, milk and egg yolks. Stir in the flour and baking powder and keep stirring until you have a batter
                            3.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy and stiff and fold them into the first bowl. Add the lemon zest and agave or maple syrup and stir gently.  

                              4. In a large frying pan, heat the oil, and drop in small dollops of batter, about the size of a large chocolate coin. Cook the pancakes for about 1–2 minutes on each side; you want them to be a honeyed brown.  Keep them warm in a low temperature oven till ready to serve.