The freshest English asparagus is such a treat that it seems a pity to serve it in any other than the simplest way. However, if you haven’t enough to satisfy everyone, or if the asparagus is imported or slightly less fresh, an asparagus tart is always appreciated. This one uses my hot butter method for the pastry, which gives a more biscuit-like texture, ideal for tarts. Since it is just a question of stirring the dough together you don’t have to worry that you haven’t the right touch for pastry making. The tart can be made ahead and reheated gently.
To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Melt the butter gently with the water in a saucepan and then add to the flour
Cut any woody-looking stems off the asparagus. Boil or steam the asparagus until just tender — don’t overcook it. Rinse with cold water and drain well on paper towels. Then whisk the cream with the egg yolks and the whole egg until well mixed. Whisk in the lemon rind and season with the nutmeg and some sea salt and black pepper.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.