Strawberry Tart

It’s no question that being wrenched out of the Borg Collective and back into the world of the Federation would be traumatic for anyone. As we saw with Seven of Nine, some of the major issues she faced had to do with reconnecting with her human side, and her human relatives on Earth. While this reconnecting was often difficult and painful, sometimes good memories surfaced too, such as Seven of Nine’s recollection that her Aunt had coaxed her out of a cupboard with the promise of a strawberry tart (Voyager: Author Author). And there is no denying that strawberry tart is a very good reason indeed to come out of hiding for. 

This delicious strawberry tart is quick to assemble and all the pieces can be prepared in advance. Brushing (optional) melted chocolate onto the base before adding the pastry cream not only adds a delicious crunchy chocolate layer, but also creates a barrier between the pastry cream and the tart shell, helping to keep the tart shell from going soggy. I got my inspiration for the strawberry arrangement from Confessions of a Tart, making mine look a bit more alien, but you can of course arrange your strawberries on top however you wish. 

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Replicate your own

(Makes 1 24cm / 9 inch tart, or 4-5 individual small ones)

To assemble the tart you’ll need:
baked and cooled 24cm / 9 inch tart shell (recipe below) (or individual small tart cases)
Vanilla pastry cream (recipe below)
500g / 1 pound 2 oz strawberries, hulled and sliced as wanted
60g / 2oz dark chocolate (optional)

To assemble, melt the dark chocolate (if using) and spread over the bottom of the tart shell. Refrigerate for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate firms up.

Just before you want to serve the tart, spoon on the pastry cream and smooth it, then arrange the strawberries on top. Use it to coax out small children out of cupboards they may be hiding in, or just as a lovely dessert for everyone to share. 

(recipes for the tart shell and pastry cream below the break)

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Luhvian quail

It certainly is a good day in the Delta Quadrant when Seven of Nine is cooking for you. Having food cooked by Neelix is all very well and good, but I’m sure sometimes it’s good to have a change. In this case, we have a dish from a multi-plate feast prepared by Seven (Voyager: The Void). While the crew are solving various mysteries and then entering into various alliances during the rest of the episode, at least we know they had a delicious meal prior to these activities.

The recipe starts by brining the quail for 45 minutes-1 hour. You can skip this step but I think it really makes a difference in the juiciness and flavour of the quail. If you do skip the brining, you will probably need to add some salt to the truffle sauce or the roast vegetables to compensate.

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Replicate your own
(Serves 2 or 3 as a main course or 6 as a starter)

You will need to start brining the quail about an hour before you want to cook them.

6 quail
1 litre water - 500ml boiling, 500ml chilled or at room temperature
30g salt
4 carrots
8-10 mushrooms
1/2 pumpkin, cut into rounds (or press out with a round cookie cutter)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 springs fresh thyme, for garnish
2-3 vol-au-vent cases (see notes, below)
Splash of olive oil

For the truffle sauce:
1-2 thin slices of truffle, chopped fine (about 5g)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Madeira
100ml chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F.

Begin by brining the quail: bring half the water (500ml) to the boil, and then in a glass or ceramic bowl large enough to hold all the quail, add the salt and the boiling water. Stir until the salt is dissolved, and then add the remaining water to cool the liquid down. The brine should be at room temperature or cooler before you add the quail.

Add the quail to the bowl and make sure they are completely covered - use a small plate to weigh them down if needed. Set the quail to one side while you prepare the vegetables.

Add a splash of olive oil to a roasting dish, and then add the pumpkin pieces, carrots (leave whole) and mushrooms. Sprinkle with the dried thyme and then turn the vegetables to coat them in the oil and thyme. Put the vegetables in the oven and roast them until they begin to soften (but are not completely soft), about 20-25 minutes.

Remove the quails from the brine and drain. They do not need to be completely dry but make sure you’ve removed most of the brine from the cavity. Arrange the quails on top of the roasting vegetables, and return the dish to the oven.

Cook the quail for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and cook for another 10 minutes on the other side. 

If you have room in your oven, you could heat or cook your vol-au-vent cases while the quail are cooking. They also take about 20 minutes to cook.

While the quail are cooking, make your truffle sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the truffle pieces and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the madeira and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer on a medium temperature until the liquid has reduced by about half.

To serve, place the vol-au-vent in the middle of the plate. Place one quail in the vol-au-vent and the vegetables around it. Garnish the plate with 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, and spoon the truffle sauce over the top.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have fresh truffles, truffle oil can be substituted in the sauce
  • Vol-au-vent cases can either be bought frozen from the supermarket, made from storebought puff pastry, of if you are feeling particularly adventurous, made from homemade puff pastry. Whichever option you choose, they generally need to be heated or cooked for about 20 minutes to allow them to properly puff.

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Zoth-nut soup

Zoth-nut soup. From the Delta Quadrant, it’s clearly a very prized soup, as the recipe was given to the Think Tank as payment for helping a planet resist the Borg (Voyager: Think Tank). While the focus of the episode is the Think Tank wanting to keep Seven of Nine as payment for assisting the Voyager crew, I couldn’t help be curious about this soup. It must be a very great soup indeed to be worthy of payment when your planet has just been protected from the Borg! I was determined to try it out and see how good it actually was.

I decided to use chestnuts for this soup because they are fairly rich and creamy, so I thought they’d add some qualities which would make zoth-nut soup so prized. I used chicken stock but you can of course substitute vegetable stock to make a fully vegan soup.

Replicate your own
(Serves 2 as a main course)

400g chestnuts, shelled (see below) or tinned
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 small-medium leeks, or 1 large leek
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
Pepper
2 bayleaves
2 sprigs parsley
Vegetable oil, for sauteeing the vegetables

If you’re working with fresh chestnuts in shells: using a sharp knife, cut an X shape into the base of each nut. Spread them on a roasting tray and roast in an oven at 190°C / 375°F for about 15 minutes. Let them cool until you can handle them, and then peel the skin off. They are easier to peel when still warm, so if they cool down too much you can pop them back in the oven for a few minutes.

Roughly chop the garlic, carrots and leeks. Add some vegetable oil to a large saucepan and add the chestnuts and garlic, and sautee for a few minutes until they start to soften.

Add the carrots and leeks and again sautee for about 5 minutes, until the leeks are softening up.

Add the stock, salt and pepper, bayleaves and the parsley, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 40-50 minutes, until all vegetables (and the chestnuts) are quite soft.

Remove the bayleaves, and blend the soup (you can also squash the vegetables with a potato masher if you want a coarser texture).

Sprinkle some extra parsley on the top for a garnish, and be thankful the Think Tank already have the recipe and won’t be coming after you.