I have been on rather a long journey this evening to arrive at this post. Metaphorically speaking, I have visited Greece, Turkey, the Balkans and Thailand before arriving back in England to the comfort and ease of a leek and stilton tart.
I started out by writing about moussaka, but I got tied up in a longwinded history of the dish which I decided to leave for a day of the week when I am not feeling naturally depressed and lacking enthusiasm. A perfect day then to write about a disappointing restaurant experience; that is how I ended up in Thailand, but it did not bring the pleasure I sought and I thought it only fair that I re-read it in a more forgiving frame of mind.
So back to England for a simple dish which requires little or no explanation. It is a well known staple of the Modern British gastropub or bistro. Served warm with some dressed leaves or green vegetables it makes for a substantial lunch, add some new potatoes and it is a hearty meal for a cold evening.
One of the best ways to use up odd bits of cheese is a quiche and over Christmas that's as likely as not to be Stilton ... If you don’t have any blue cheese you could easily substitute Cheddar, Gouda or any other full-flavoured hard cheese.
Odd bits are also good because, if you are anything like me, they will have been sitting there for a while before you decide what to do with them and, as strong flavours are what you want here, an overripe cheese is just the ticket. On the other hand, you may prefer something mellower, in which case I suggest you go for a soft white goat’s cheese.
Serves 4 people generously.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Line a 23cm (9 inch) tart tin with the rolled out pastry, put in the fridge for 30mins before pre- or blind-baking. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and thyme and sweat over a low heat until soft and translucent (6 to 8 minutes).
Arrange the leeks in the pre-baked pastry case so that they are spread evenly across the base, keeping a few bits for the garnish. Remove any rind from the stilton and crumble over the leeks with your fingers, again saving a few bits for garnish.
Lightly whisk the eggs and cream together with the salt and pepper and pour over the leeks and stilton. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and leeks over and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes at 180C.