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Val’s Picnic Pick: Cheese & Onion Flan

Our talented baking expert Val Stones has memorised this special summer recipe for 50 years — and now we’re lucky that she has put pen to paper to share it with us. These tasty tarts are a family favourite that Val whips up when her children return home to enjoy with chips and beans. It’s quintessential comfort food and a recipe that Val plans to pass onto her grandchildren . They’re also a mouthwatering must for your picnic hamper!

Serving options

This recipe either makes one large family flan (which serves 8) or 6 individual tartlets.

It’s equally delicious served hot or cold!

Preparation

  • Making and resting the pastry: 30 minutes
  • Making and resting the tart cases: 20 minutes
  • Baking time: 40 minutes for the large tart or 25 minutes for the individual tartlets.

The pastry can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

 What you will need

  • Either a large flan / quiche tin or 6 individual flan / quiche tins greased well
  • A baking sheet to pre-heat in the oven
  • (If you’re making the individual tartlets, use a large round pastry cutter)

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g butter (cubed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 40-50ml chilled water

For the filling:

  • 250g strong cheddar cheese
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • A knob of butter the size of a walnut
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons of cold mashed potato
  • 6 lightly beaten medium eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon pimento (red pepper powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered English mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6-12 twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • 8fl oz of fresh cream

To decorate:

  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (it’s a wonderful way to enjoy homegrown produce)

Method

Set the oven for 190C fan, 230C, 450F, gas 7-8.

  1. To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and lightly rub into the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the mixture. Pour in the egg and 40ml water (which is sufficient to bind the pastry into a firm dough), adding a little more water if needed.
  3. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and delicately knead for 20 turns to make smooth. Flatten the pastry to the size of a saucer, wrap in film and chill for 20 minutes.
  4. Place the oil and butter in a frying pan. Finely chop the onions, shallots and garlic then place in the pan. Gently heat and stir the mixture until the onions are translucent. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Grease the flan tins of choice.
  6. Remove the pastry from the fridge, then allow to come to room temperature for about 5 minutes.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Either roll out one large circle or six smaller ones. If you’re making the large flan, fold the circle of pastry in half and then quarters. Place the folded pastry into the flan tin and open out carefully, pressing gently into the tin. With a fork, mark the base evenly as this will help the base to remain flat. Place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven to heat up whilst you make the filling.
  9. To make the filling, place the potato in a bowl and break up. Add the cheese, eggs, pimento, mustard, salt, pepper, cream and chives. Stir well until all combined.
  10. Pour the mixture into the flan tin or share out equally between the individual flan tins.
  11. Decorate the tops with the cherry tomatoes.
  12. Place the flans on the pre-heated baking sheet. Bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes on 190C, then turn down to 160C until golden on the top (usually about a further 10-15 minutes for the individual tarts, and 25 minutes for a large tart)
  13. The cheese mixture should be firm and set when taken out of the oven. They may be a little risen but will settle down as they cool.
  14. Leave for 10 minutes before removing from the flan tins. Place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

If you’re feeling inspired, Val has kindly provided lots of lovely recipes for you to try at home browse here. Wow your friends, spoil your family or treat yourself.

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