Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow please! I need sunshine, soothing breezes and NO RAIN as tomorrow is the day of my garden party. For various reasons I haven’t hosted a party for quite some time – too long in fact, so tomorrow I plan to make up for it!
For my parties I like to make food that can be cooked ahead, then served at room temperature, as I’d rather spend time mingling with my guests than stuck in the kitchen fussing over the catering. I recently came across a delicious recipe for courgette (aka zucchini) and cheese flan which seemed to fit the bill and so it’s on the menu for tomorrow. This flan is really easy and is perfect for using up a glut of courgettes – my lovely neighbour Julie very kindly donated some of her surplus for me to make this dish …
- 400 g ready made shortcrust pastry
- Plain flour for dusting
- 350 g (2 medium) courgettes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Knob of butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
- Small bunch of fresh thyme
- 150 ml double cream
- 1 large free-range egg, plus
- 2 egg yolks
- 130g mature Cheddar, finely grated
Preheat a baking sheet in the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to line a 20cm x 3.5cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Line with baking paper and baking beans or rice, then bake for 12 minutes. Remove the paper and beans/rice, reduce the temperature to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, grate the courgettes into a sieve, toss with a little salt and leave over a bowl for 5 minutes. Heat the olive oil and butter in a shallow pan over a low to medium heat, then soften the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Increase the heat, stir in the courgette and thyme and fry for a couple of minutes until just golden.
In a large jug, mix the cream with the egg, yolks, two-thirds of the grated Cheddar and some black pepper. Spoon the courgette and onion mix over the base of the tart. Pour over the Cheddar and cream mixture, then scatter with the remaining cheese. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes until golden and just set.
My pastry isn’t the neatest (a bit like my patchwork piecing!) but it will still taste good – and I’m sure none of my friends will mind if my edges are a bit untidy! Now all we need is sunshine …….