What might a Somerset farm worker need coming in after a hard day’s graft? S/he might have been digging ditches to stop flooding, cutting reeds and willow, harvesting apples for cider-making, looking after the cows for cheese-making, working in the fields, ploughing fields, in the orchards, in the woods… Farm work always has been hard, gruelling toil and despite all the machinery today, it still is.
So what might be just the thing a hungry farming person might like for dinner, especially on a nearly autumn day? It has been lovely and sunny today, but it’s still been a bit on the nippy side.
In my old Somerset cookery book, I came across a cheap, easy, and no doubt tasty dish which could be adapted to use up any left-overs. pastry, spuds, cheese, egg – oh and a bit of bacon if you have any, scraps would do, old cheese would be fine (as long as it’s Cheddar of course, being Somerset), you could almost miss out the egg if you haven’t got one…
Somerset savoury tart
- shortcrust pastry (any recipe, suet would be a real ‘sticker’!)
- boiled potatoes
- 1 beaten egg
- 3 oz Cheddar cheese
- 3 oz streaky bacon chopped into small pieces
- herbs you like – chives are good
- plenty of pepper
- line a flan tin with the pastry
- mash the potatoes while still warm with plenty of butter, most of the cheese, herbs, pepper and half the egg
- put the well-mashed mash into the pastry case and smooth out (a fork is good for this)
- sprinkle over the bacon pieces, the rest of the cheese and dribble over the rest of the egg (add an extra shake of pepper if you like)
- bake in a hot oven for about ¾ hour – 180°C, 350°, gas mark 5 (this is what the recipe says – maybe my oven is on the hot side but I had it a bit lower and kept an eye on it so it didn’t catch on the top)
- serve hot with a few more chives sprinkled over the top, or cold (or hot for dinner, then taken out wrapped up for cold packed lunch the next day)
- optional extras could include slices of tomato laid on top with the cheese and egg, peas or sweetcorn folded into the mash once it’s mashed, any other cooked vegetable such as carrots diced up, fried onions in the mash, pieces of cooked sausage/salami/ pepperoni etc… even corned beef would appeal to some – daring souls might even like cooked or tinned fish!