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Welsh leek, Bacon and Goat's Cheese Tart

The Welsh leek lost its place to the daffodil as the national emblem of Wales when Edward was installed as Prince of Wales in 1911, but on St David's Day it is still often worn in buttonholes in preference to the daffodil. The leek has had to fight to win approval as a main cooking ingredient in most of Britain, often being thought of simply as an addition to or substitute for onions in dishes such as stews. But it has a long and distinguished history, being widely used and well regarded by the Romans in their own cooking traditions. Now that it is so accessible almost all year round, it is again being used more and more.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
225 g (8 oz) plain shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 g (1/2 oz) butter
3 leeks, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
225 g (8 oz) rindless streaky bacon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
425 ml (3/4 pint) single cream
175 g (6 oz) fresh goat's cheese (Welsh, if possible)
55 g (2 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

method

1. Line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the leeks and fry very gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the bacon and continue frying until the leek is soft and the bacon is not quite crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and season with salt and black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

4. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, egg yolk and cream and season, if necessary. Break up the goat's cheese into small pieces.

5. Put the walnuts in the base of the pre-baked pastry case. Spoon in the leek, bacon and parsley mixture, add the goat's cheese and finally pour in the cream mixture. Sprinkle the surface with the nutmeg. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tart looks set and the cheese is nicely browned.

Serve hot, warm or cold. This tart goes well with boiled new carrots or sweet sugar-snap peas.

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