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Soft Curd, Wild Garlic & Sorrel Tart

Familiar, soothing and spring-like all at the same time, this tart is made with wild garlic and sorrel giving a lovely lemony-garlic tang to the soft, rich curd and feta cheese custard. The pastry is deliciously crumbly and rich with extra butter and the addition of cider vinegar brightens the end result.

If you feel like a shady woodland walk in search of wild garlic this weekend, this tart could be the happy result.

Spinach can be substituted, but to preserve the lemon/garlic flavour soften some sliced garlic and caramelise some very thin slices of lemon (rind included) in butter in a hot pan and add alongside the spinach. Ricotta or any other soft, white cheese could be substituted for curd cheese.

A bitter salad of chicory, or such, is lovely alongside, but keep the dressing lemony, with plenty of coarse sea salt and black pepper scattered over.

Soft Curd, Wild Garlic & Sorrel Tart

For sustainable foraging make sure you only pick wild garlic stems and leaves, not bulbs, which should never be removed. Only take a few leaves from every patch - continuous cropping from one place may see the whole patch disappear. Flower stems can be used. Make sure you pick from a clean area and wash and spin dry before using. To make sure you identify wild garlic properly, use these links to check your knowledge.

Sorrel can be bought from specialist retailers or grown in your garden.

Washing wild garlic

INGREDIENTS for a 20cm pie (serves 2-4)

For the pastry case

200g plain flour

120g cold butter, chopped into small cubes

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 egg yolk + 1 egg beaten

Iced water

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your thumbs and fingertips until the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs (or whizz it in a food processor). With a fork, roughly mix the egg yolk with the cider vinegar and add to the mixture, combining until it starts to clump together. Much water may not be needed, so dribble in iced water teaspoon by teaspoon until clumps are formed and you can form the mixture into a ball. No more than one tablespoon to avoid shrinkage from too damp pastry. Form the pastry into a flat bun shape, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 180°C.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a piece of floured baking parchment (a good tip to make it easy to turn) to a circle at least 5 cm larger than you need to fill your tin. Line the tin with the pastry, easing the surplus into the sides but taking care not to stretch the pastry as you fit it in. Leave the surplus overhanging the sides (this will be trimmed back once baked to avoid a shrunken pastry case) and give the sides a little squeeze all around to make sure they don’t collapse into the middle during baking. Prick the base a few times with a fork and line with a big square of baking paper (big enough to overlap and protect the sides) gently eased into the base and weighted with some dry white butter beans, rice or similar. Put it back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

Cook the case in the oven for 15 minutes then carefully remove the paper and beans and pop the tin back into the oven for a further 5 minutes until the base is cooked to a delicate palest brown. Remove the pie from the oven, trim the edges with a sharp knife, brush the base with beaten egg to seal and leave to cool completely.

Making the custard for the tart

For the filling

150g Sheep's curd cheese

75g Feta cheese

100g Creme Fraiche

1 whole egg

2 egg yolks

salt and pepper

70g wild garlic, washed, spun dry and shredded (reserve a few leaves for decoration)

70g sorrel, washed, spun dry and shredded

Mix together the two cheeses, creme fraiche and eggs in a bowl with the salt and pepper. Steam the leaves until tender and drain off any surplus water. The sorrel will go khaki in the heat, but this won't matter, as it will be hidden under the custard. Allow to cool.

When the leaves and the pastry case are cool, spoon some of the custard mixture over the base of the pastry case, layer in the chopped sorrel and wild garlic, then finish with the rest of the custard. Decorate with one or two wild garlic leaves.

Bake in the 180°C oven for 25-30 minutes until the pie is just staring to brown in spots on the top. It won’t be set completely, that will happen once cooling, but it should have a wobbly integrity which will give you confidence to remove.

Enjoy xxx !

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