Is it possible that the tide is beginning to turn against fast food?
Last month global fast-food mongers Pepsico and Kraft both posted a huge drop in profits for the first quarter of 2015.
Business may be looking bad for them, but their troubles have been overshadowed by those of the global burger chain McDonald’s. It reported an 11% decrease in revenue and a 30% drop in profit for the same period. Furthermore, a previously announced programme of closure of 350 loss-making McDonald’s “restaurants” has since been escalated to 700. Although representing only a tiny fraction of the company’s 32,000 restaurants worldwide, these closures suggest that at least some of McDonald’s customers are no longer “lovin’ it”.
The central McDonald’s corporation has also said that it is looking to increase the proportion of McDonald’s franchise owners by divesting itself of a further 3,500 restaurants – hardly a sign of confidence in its own future.
The company’s sudden decline could be blamed in part on the general global economic malaise, and several food scandals in Asia will also have played their part (including a supplier mixing out of date meat with fresh meat and a human tooth being discovered in a McDonald’s meal purchased in Japan).
But, ever the optimist, there is a part of me hopes that the downturn in McDonald’s. Pepsico’s and Kraft’s fortunes also signifies increased consumer awareness, and the start of a move away from these companies’ products in particular, and from fast food in general.
On to the recipe.
Like asparagus, the broad bean enjoys a relatively brief but nonetheless glorious season, and I am now starting to harvest lots of lovely organically grown superaquadulce broad beans from my allotment plot, the Circus Garden.
Superaquadulce is a variety which can be planted in October. It survives everything winter throws at it and then produces lots of pods in mid Spring, usually fruiting before the start of the black fly season.
In this recipe the sweetness of the broad beans combines beautifully with salty feta and fresh chives to make a lovely Spring tart, which can be eaten warm or cold. These tarts would be perfect for a picnic.
If you would prefer to make one big tart rather than several individual ones, extend the cooking time in the oven by 10-15 minutes.
broad bean, feta and chive tarts
broad bean, feta and chive tarts
200 g organic broad beans (weighed after beans removed from pod)
80 g organic feta cheese, cut into 1/4 cm cubes
1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
3 free range organic eggs
100 ml organic double cream
for the pastry
250 g plain organic flour
125 g organic unsalted butter
½ tsp sea salt, ground
1 free range organic egg
1 tbsp cold water
1. First, make the pastry. Put the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and mix at the lowest setting until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and the water. Process until the mixture forms into a pliable ball. Remove from the food processor bowl, flatten the ball slightly to a thick disc shape (this makes it easier to roll out later), wrap in clingfilm and put it the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. While the pastry is resting, prepare the broad beans. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the broad beans and cook for just two minutes. Drain and then immediately plunge the beans into a bowl of ice cold water. Slip the bright emerald broad beans out of their skins and set to one side
3. Pre heat the oven to 175˚C (350˚F, gas mark 4). Grease four individual tart dishes. Retrieve the pastry, divide into four and roll out each piece thinly, placing it carefully over a flan tin and gently pressing into place. Trim the pastry so that there is a slight overhang of about 1/2 cm. any left over pastry can be kept in the fridge for a few days, or frozen until required. Prick the base and sides of the each flan pastry base with a fork and line it with parchment and baking stones or beans. Bake blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly and then remove the parchment and baking beans. The edges of the flans will have shrunk slightly, but now you can trim them neatly to the height of the flan dish with a sharp knife.
4. Whisk the eggs with the cream. Divide three quarters of this mixture between the six tart cases. Next, carefully divide the feta and broad beans between the tart cases. Finish off with the rest of the egg and cream mixtures and a sprinkling of the chopped chives.
5. Place in the pre-heated oven for around 20 minutes until set and golden.