For the pastry, put the butter and flour in a bowl with ½ teaspoon of salt and crumble with your fingers until it is like coarse sand. Add 3 tablespoons of cold water and the oil and work into a loose dough. Knead quickly but gently until smooth, then flatten, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and have ready 45 tiny tart cases that are 4.5 cm(1¾ inches) across the top and no more than 2 cm(¾ inch) deep. They don’t need to be greased (there is enough butter in the dough).
Break off small balls of pastry about the size of cherry tomatoes and flatten into the cases with your thumb and forefinger, pressing to a couple of millimetres thick. (If your cases are shallow you could roll out the pastry first, then press into the cases and trim the excess pastry away.) Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden, and then cool a bit in the cases before gently removing. Leave to cool completely before filling.
These can be made the day before and kept in an airtight container overnight.
- - soft-boiled eggs mashed with olive oil and chopped parsley;
- - avocado mashed with lemon juice and paprika;
- - a 320 g(11 oz) tin of tuna in oil mashed with 3 soft-boiled eggs, a chopped spring onion (scallion), 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 2 tablespoonsmayonnaise, the juice of 1 lemon, a pinch of paprika and 2 tablespoonslight olive oil.
The tartlets are best with something creamy to balance the pastry. Any soft cheese like mozzarella works well and sometimes I like to use 250 g(9 oz/1 cup) smooth ricotta mixed with 25 g(1 oz) grated parmesan, 1 scant tablespoon olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and a little fresh thyme. I fill all the cases with this, then top with any of the following:
- - roasted tomatoes, basil oil, parmesan flakes
- - smoked salmon, dill sprigs, a drizzle of lemon juice
- - bresaola or prosciutto, torn basil leaves, parmesan flakes.