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Courgette, Garlic and Blue Cheese Tart

This is a tart to commemorate all that Elizabeth David did in the 1950s and 1960s to awaken our senses by
pleading for vegetables as worthy of separate and special treatment. The courgette reflects this hoped-for transition admirably.
Prior to the writings of Elizabeth David, the courgette was known as a marrow, usually grown to enormous sizes, clogging up the harvest festival displays in churches, before being stuffed with mince.
Here, the combination with garlic and lemon prevents the courgette slipping back into the gloomy days of the tasteless marrow and reminds us of Mediterranean sunshine. The use of blue cheese is a reminder that Britain has a long tradition of making blue cheese. You may prefer ordinary Cheddar or goat's cheese, but I think blue cheese really sets this tart apart as something rather special.

ingredients

serves 6-8
225 g (8 oz) plain shortcrust pastry
1 teaspoon mustard powder
675 g (1 1/2 lb) small courgettes
2 tablespoons olive oil
25 g (1 oz) butter
finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
300 ml (1/2 pint) soured cream
300 ml (1/2 pint) double cream
175 g (6 oz) blue cheese (or other cheese if preferred)
courgette flowers or fresh chives, to garnish

method

1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface sprinkled with the mustard powder and use to line a deep 23cm (9 in) tart tin. Pre-bake or bake blind. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6 and place a baking sheet inside to warm.

2. Blanch the courgettes by dropping them into a pan of boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and cut into thin slices.

3. Heat the oil and butter in a large pan, add the courgettes, lemon zest and salt and pepper, and fry until the courgettes are softened, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, then turn up the heat a little and stir vigorously so that all the courgette slices are covered with bits of garlic. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and more salt to taste. Set aside.

4. In a bowl, mix the eggs and egg yolks together, then add the two types of cream. Crumble in the blue cheese, add the courgette mixture and stir to mix it all together. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, then pour the mixture into the
5. pre-baked pastry case. Bake in the oven on the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes (possibly a bit longer) or until firmly set and golden brown. A skewer or knife inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Serve hot or warm with a salad of sliced tomato, drizzled with olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and covered with chopped chives. Garnish with courgette flowers, if you have them, or fresh chives.

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