Jamie Oliver is my absolute hero. I love his cookbooks, I love his shows, I love the way he talks about food. Plus he's adorable. There's nothing wrong with this guy. So his latest book, Jamie at Home, has enjoyed a spot of reverence on my cookbook shelf since its birth last fall. This entire time, bookmarked and ready, I've been waiting restlessly for asparagus season. Why? you ask. To make this, my pretties. This is the reason I really bought my first pound of filo dough, intimidated though I still am by that tenuously thin roll. And was it ever so much better than I imagined? you ask. In a word, yes.
Crispy & Delicious Asparagus & Potato Tart
Excerpted from Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver, page 25*
1# potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1# asparagus, washed, woody ends cut off
8 oz filo pastry, thawed
4 T butter
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
sprinkle of fresh nutmeg
Boil your potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes or until cooked. Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 4 minutes, then shock with ice water to stop them from cooking. Set asparagus aside.
Heat the oven to 375º and melt the butter in the microwave. Use a pastry brush to butter an 8" x 11" (or thereabouts) pan. Get your filo dough unwrapped and sort of smash one layer of filo into the center of your pan, not worrying if it hangs over the sides for now. Quickly butter that layer of filo, then add another, then butter, etc. Continue until your dough is 6 sheets thick, ending with more butter. Gently fold down the edges of the filo until you have a crimped little crust, buttering that edge to hold it. Dampen two paper towels and lay them over your pan.
See the depth of potato and the crisp crust and the yummmm.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and use a masher to mash them well in the pan. Add most of the remaining butter from the filo, plus both of the cheeses and salt and pepper. Taste them — they should be good just plain. Whisk the eggs together with the milk and cream, adding nutmeg. Whisk the egg mixture into the potatoes until combined. Pour the entire mess over the filo crust (moving your paper towels, of course) and spread evenly. Arrange the asparagus across the top so that they'll fit and look pretty. Brush the asparagus with the last of the butter and sprinkle with pepper. (If you run out of butter, just melt some more.) Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Let set for 10 minutes more, to keep from burning your mouth. Use a sharp knife to slice this into eight servings, for a side, or four big wedges for your main. Savor with a plain green salad.
If you have leftovers, do yourself the favor of reheating gently in the oven, keeping the crispness of the crust, rather than the soggy mess the microwave will give you. I promise it's worth those 10 extra minutes.
*Ridiculously adapted by me, for partially uneducated reasons - what is lancashire cheese? - and partially for health (you won't miss the extra cream and butter, I swear!)