Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets

These Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets are loaded with cheese, caramelised onions and large chunks of smoked pancetta. They are perfectly portable for picnics, ideal appetisers for entertaining and work well as a really casual or dressed up affair. There is also a gluten-free adaptation below.

Tartlets on a board balanced on a picnic box with plates and picnicware
Tartlets? Tartlets? Tartlets? The word has lost all meaning…

…is what I hear every time I hear or read the word tartlet.

Tartlets on a board balanced on a picnic box with plates and picnicware

I made these tartlets for my Mum’s birthday lunch this week. It was a bit of a kickbollockscramble to get the lunch together on time as I have severe pregnancy brain. The night before we had gone out to the theatre as a pre-birthday celebration and my sister innocently asked me what we were having for lunch the next day. The champagne lunch that I had offered to throw for us all weeks before and had an extremely sufficient timeframe to work with. My organisational skills haven’t been on top form recently and my memory is like emmental. In fact I think the amount of time I have been spending thinking about my new cake stall and new cake recipes seems to have pushed everything else out of my mind.

Tartlets on a board balanced on a picnic box with plates and picnicware

It’s just as well I bought my Mum afternoon tea for two at The Langham for a birthday present as the fact it was cake related meant she actually received a present from me. So when my sister asked what we were having for lunch the next day I thought about it and realised that I hadn’t actually prepared anything or even had constructed a vague plan for lunch. So when I got home that night I thought about Mum’s favourite foods and how I could throw them together in a quick and calm manner before everyone descended at 12.30pm the next day.

Tartlets on a board with a knife balanced on a picnic box with plates and picnicware

A sort of quiche was the first thing I thought about as she loves a good homemade eggy pastry, as do I, especially if loaded with cheese, caramelised onions and large chunks of smoked pancetta. I decided upon miniature versions as well as not only are they quicker to cook but it meant I could also fill the table up with other little bits and bobs like my Cashew Chicken Satay, a wild rice salad sprinkled with Walnut Dukkah and freshly baked madeleines served with strawberries macerated in sugar and Chantilly cream.

I think I amazed myself most of all when I was in Waitrose at 9.30am buying the ingredients and then everything was on the table at 12.45pm along with glasses bubbling over with champagne. I was covered in flour, without a scrap of make-up but the house was tidy, the table was set and the food was delicious.

Tartlets on a board with a knife balanced on a picnic box with plates and picnicware

If you make these Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets

These Pancetta, Onion and Gruyère Tartlets are loaded with cheese, caramelised onions and large chunks of smoked pancetta.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetiser
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cheese tarts, mini quiche, picnic ideas
Servings: 18 tartlets
Calories: 192kcal
Author: Georgina Hartley

Ingredients

Pastry *for gluten-free pastry see below

  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 125 g cold butter sliced thinly
  • 1 egg
  • 35 ml cold water
  • Filling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 100 g pancetta or bacon lardons
  • 1 large red onion peeled and diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 200 g crème fraiche
  • 115 g gruyère
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the salt into the flour then tip in the butter. Rub between your fingertips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg and cold water and bring together with your hands to form a smooth dough which shouldn’t be sticky. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for half an hour to rest.
  • In a medium sized saucepan heat the olive oil then add the pancetta and onions and cook on a low to medium heat for about 15 minutes until the pancetta has begun to crisp up and the onions have caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.
  • Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to about 3mm thickness and cut out into 4 inch rounds
  • Press the pastry circles lightly into a 12 hole and 6 hole muffin tin and place back into the fridge for a further half hour.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the crème fraiche. Add the gruyère, nutmeg and salt and pepper and mix until fully combined then stir in the bacon and onions.
  • Pour the filling evenly into the pastry cases then place in the oven.
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C, then turn the heat down to 160°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove the tartlets from the oven and leave in the tins for about 5 minutes to settle then lift out to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Notes

*For the Gluten-Free Pastry
80 g rice flour
25 g oat flour
45 g buckwheat flour
30 g cornflour
15 g tapioca starch
15 g ground chia seeds
½ teaspoon sea salt
115 g cold unsalted butter cut into very thin slices
1 egg medium, lightly beaten
2-4 tablespoons iced water
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour for rolling out
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the flours, chia seeds and salt.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour in between your fingertips so it resembles very rough breadcrumbs then stir in the beaten egg with a fork.
  3. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and start to bring the dough together with a pastry scraper. It should start to form quite quickly.
  4. Tip the dough onto the work surface and quickly bring the ball into a round ball with your hands. You don’t really need to work the pastry as there’s no gluten to activate. The pastry should still be a little sticky.
  5. Wrap the pastry ball in greaseproof paper and flatten it slightly.
  6. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Then continue as per the rest of the recipe above.
gluten-free pastry adapted from Alanna Taylor-Tobin's Alternative Baker

Nutrition

Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 343mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 7.6% | Vitamin C: 0.7% | Calcium: 6.9% | Iron: 4.9%

SHOP THE RECIPE

I have used this KitchenCraft MasterClass 12-Hole Non-Stick Cupcake Tray/Baking Pan, 35 x 27 cm for as long as I have been baking. It’s durable, easy to clean and useful for so many things. Obviously it’s sold as a muffin/cupcake tin, but I also use it for my yorkshire puddings and these tartlets.

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Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart {gluten-free}

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback
So this week I finalised my Christmas menu for what I’m going to be cooking for all the family when they arrive from Christmas Eve onwards. It wasn’t that hard to be honest, as I took the menu I made for last Christmas and merely changed the header from Christmas 2013 to Christmas 2014. Gone are the days of festive experimentation, that is now what my blog is for.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Like any family, mine is picky and I have to cater across the board. Some don’t like smoked salmon, some can’t imagine Christmas without it. For those that hate the sight of Christmas Pudding, not to fear, there is trifle on hand. Then of course I have the usual brussel sprout debate, shall I bother with them when only a couple of people eat them? There is no question, unless I want sulks over the lunch table. A couple of years ago I broke from tradition and made a Ham Hock and Chicken Pie on Christmas Eve instead of the usual Honey Glazed Ham and there were definite murmours of discontent despite the pie being one of the best things that has come out of my kitchen. Lo and behold when I visited a certain member of my family over New Year a Baked Christmas Ham was presented for supper. The hint was duly noted.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

I don’t know how it came to pass that Devils on Horseback have to make an appearance by about 11am on Christmas morning just after we have finished opening our presents, especially since we’ve been stuffing ourselves with bacon rolls all morning. But then, there is always room for more bacon. I hate to admit it but I was getting a little tired of them each year so this time round I have jazzed them up a bit and I have to say that it has reinvigorated my love for them. They were missing a bit of oomph for me so I have mixed in some hot and smoky chipotle in adobo with a generous amount of citrusy marmalade and spread it on the bacon rashers before rolling them up with the prunes. Now, they have bite, a Chrismas kick with the marmalade and to finish it off I have given them a glaze of marmalade after they emerge from the grill to avoid the bacon going dry if they are going to be sat on a plate for a bit. Not that they will as they are usually wolfed down within seconds.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Just make sure you use good bacon and freshly opened sticky prunes.

The Devils on Horseback go down well with everyone, except of course for Mum who balks at the idea of sweet and savoury things together and wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. Oh well, you can’t please everyone.

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Hot and Smoky Devils on Horseback

Makes 24

90g marmalade
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
200g stoned prunes (about 24)
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon, halved widthways

  1. Turn the grill onto its highest setting.
  2. Mash up 60g of the marmalade with the chipotle until evenly mixed.
  3. Spread about ½ teaspoon of the marmalade and chipotle mixture on one side of the bacon rasher.
  4. Place a prune at one end of the bacon rasher and roll up, securing with a cocktail stick.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Place the devils underneath the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
  7. Meanwhile melt the remaining 30g of marmalade in a small saucepan until runny.
  8. Once the devils are ready, remove them from the grill and brush with the marmalade to glaze.
  9. Serve immediately.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws
We made this soup as part of our Halloween celebrations the week before last, bringing a huge vat of it to the front of our house and serving to our friends and neighbours. It was a lovely evening and it is extremely comforting to be wrapped up warm whilst out in the cold clutching a mug of spiced hot soup. Well I wasn’t wrapped up that warm since I was in a witch’s hat with punishing red heels and carrying a broom, my normal Friday night attire.

I do need a bit of something cheesy with this kind of warming autumnal soup. For an every day lunch a round of cheddar cheese sandwiches fits the bill quite nicely but for an event it is rather special to bake some fresh cheese straws, most definitely served warm from the oven.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Although I love pumpkin, by itself it can be a little bland, it doesn’t have the same sweetness as butternut squash, which is why you often find most pumpkin recipes stuffed to the gills with spices or chilli. Here, we went one step further to imbue the soup with as much intensely pumpkiny flavour as possible and roasted it up first before adding it into the soup. If you add pumpkin straight into hot water or stock, much like other squashes or even sweet potato, the vegetable would basically turn to mushy water. The pre-roasting captures the flavour and texture whilst also lending a slightly caramelised note to the proceedings.

Then after that we pumped the soup full of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A pinch of chilli was added in for depth more than piquancy but if you like your soups super spicy then do add in fresh chillies as well, although that was not what we were looking for here.

You may notice that I have said ‘we’ a lot in this recipe, that’s because I wasn’t the only head chef on this one. That honour lies with my husband who did most of the work whilst I just yelled out what spices to add in next as I prepared the cheese straws from my side of the kitchen. Barking orders in the kitchen is one of my non too favourable traits.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

I wanted to cram in as much cheese as possible into my straws to make sure the deep savouriness could compete with the soup, so I used both gruyere and parmesan in equal measure. Really any strong cheese would do, even stilton at a push. Just before the straws went into the oven I sprinkled a liberal amount of black sesame seeds over which pair beautifully with the cheese and with the pumpkin. Of course you can use white sesame seeds if that’s all your supermarket holds without any impact on the taste.

I think cheese straws are an absolute necessity this time of year, I often make up the pastry a couple of days before guests are due, and often do so in my pre-Christmas preparations so that on the day I can roll them out and throw them in the oven just as everyone is arriving and needs a little something to nibble on. Dunked into this pumpkin soup though gives them even more reason to become a November/December staple.

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup with Black Sesame Cheese Straws

Spiced Roast Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6-8

2 kg pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 celery, diced
1 leek, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1½ litres chicken or vegetable stock
Crème fraiche and snipped chives to serve

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, then prepare the pumkin by peeling, removing the seeds and dicing into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large roasting tray and then tip the pumpkin in, coating with the oil. Add seasoning then place in the oven, roasting for about 1 hour until the pumpkin is cooked all the way through and just starting to caramelise at the edges.
  3. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. In a large saucepan heat the other tablespoon of olive oil on a gentle heat and add the carrot, onion, celery and leek. Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are just turning transparent.
  5. Add the garlic, chilli and all the spices and stir to coat for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Tip the pumpkin in and the stock and bring up to the boil. Then turn the heat down to simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the soup from the heat and blend it together until smooth. Check the consistency of the soup, if you feel it is too thick then add some more stock or water and bring back to the boil. If the soup is too thin then boil down until you reach your preferred consistency.
  8. Serve with a swirl of crème fraiche and some snipped chives.

Black Sesame Cheese Straws
Makes 45-50
Adapted from a recipe by Jenny White on the BBC Food website

375g plain flour
pinch of salt
225g butter, put in the freezer for 30 minutes
100g gruyere. grated
100g parmesan, grated
½ teaspoon of English mustard powder
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
2 free-range egg yolks + 2 egg yolks whisked up to make the egg wash
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  1. Grate the butter into the flour and salt, then rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles rough breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle in the mustard powder and cayenne pepper and stir in both cheeses.
  3. Add the egg yolks plus 5 tablespoons of cold water and bring the dough together until smooth. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C.
  5. Roll out the pastry into a 18cm long rectangle, the pastry should be about 5mm thick. Then cut into 1.5cm strips.
  6. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over, pressing lightly into the pastry strips and brush with the egg wash.
  7. Place on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes, before serving warm.