Cooking for a crowd is so satisfying. The secret for me is “getting ahead”, using locally sourced ingredients and an attention to detail that delivers a “wow” factor to the simplest of recipes.
As the summer arrives we look forward to the experience of eating alfresco. Whether it’s a picnic with family and friends or a simple supper in the garden, these three unique recipes are guaranteed to satisfy.
My starter, main course and dessert can all be made in advance, each one prepared in around 30 minutes and when served need little by way of accompaniment. I propose the eggs be served as finger food to start, a green salad to sit alongside the salmon main course and a drizzle of cream with the tart – hope you enjoy!
Yorkshire Rhubarb and Orange Custard Tart
I love the spring and the rhubarb season. If you have young rhubarb then this is by far the best for this recipe because there is no pre-cooking of the fruit. You will need a 23cm loose bottomed flan tin and this tart will serve 8 with cream, ice cream or just on its own.
For the pastry
- 170g plain flour
- 85g butter
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 2tbsp cold water
For the custard
- 200g trimmed rhubarb cut into 1cm pieces
- 1 orange, zested and segmented
- 2 egg yolks and 1 egg
- 45g caster sugar
- 200ml crème fraiche
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas mark 5
2. Start by making the pastry. Rub the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs then add the egg and water mix, stir with a knife then use the hands to bring together to a ball. Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill for at least half an hour before rolling out.
Alternatively, if you do not have the time use 275g bought sweet shortcrust pastry.
3. Once the pastry has rested roll out to a thickness of a £1 coin then line the greased tart tin allowing surplus pastry to overhang the edges of the tin. Prick the base then chill for 15 minutes. Line with paper and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans then paint the inside with a coating of egg white (the egg white left over from the yolk used in the pastry) before popping back into the oven for 5 minutes. This additional 5 minutes baking will provide a waterproof seal to the pastry to ensure you have a crisp tart base and no soggy bottom.
4. Trim the edges of the tart using a serrated knife then set aside and make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C / 325°F / gas mark 3.
5. Arrange the rhubarb on the base of the pastry tart then the orange zests, but leave a few for decoration.
6. Whisk together the sugar and eggs then add the crème fraiche and vanilla. Pour this over the rhubarb then arrange an orange segment (8 in total) around the edges. Bake at 170°C / 325°F / gas mark 3 for 25-30 minutes until set and golden brown.
7. Take from the oven and allow to cool then decorate with a dusting of icing sugar and orange zests. I also crisp up some rhubarb by strimming off lengths from a stick of rhubarb with a vegetable peeler, placing in a pan with 100ml water and 50g sugar and a little red food colouring. Boil for 2-3 minutes until softened then arrange on a non-stick paper and allow to dry out in a very low oven (80°C or equivalent) for about 1 hour until crispy. These will store in an airtight container until required if you want to make them ahead.
Top Tip – to segment an orange: With a very sharp knife remove both ends of the orange. Stand the orange with one flat end on a chopping board and carefully remove the skin and pith leaving the flesh. Do this by cutting to the contour of the orange so that you don’t lose the orange shape, then hold the orange in the left hand and remove the segments by cutting between the membrane lines left and right. The segments need to be free of skin, pith and membrane.
For perfect party food inspiration, try Nancy’s recipes for Devilled Eggs here and her Scottish Salmon Plait here.
We’d love to see photos of your creations! If you’ve given this recipe a go then please tag Hotter in your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Born and bred in Yorkshire, retired practice manager Nancy quickly became a household name in 2014 when she competed in and won the fifth series of the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’.
Since then she has made guest appearances at numerous events; teaching and demonstrating her culinary skills at food shows and festivals, and undertaking public speaking engagements. She has an active following on social media where she loves to share her recipes and top tips for the home. Aside from baking and cookery, Nancy enjoys an active lifestyle – walking, gardening and cycling – as well as enjoying family time with her husband, children and grandchildren.