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Seafood Torta

A very stylish version of a fish flan, this makes a perfect accompaniment to an Italian aperitif or serves as a light supper dish with salad.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
225 g (8 oz) plain flour, sifted
120 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
Pinch salt
60 ml (4 tbsps) cold milk

filling

120 g (4 oz) whitefish fillets (plaice, sole or cod)
225 g (8 oz) cooked prawns
120 g (4 oz) dressed crab
140 ml (1/4 pint) white wine
140 ml (1/4 pint) water
Large pinch hot pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
30 g (2 tbsps) butter
30 g (2 tbsps) flour
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 egg yolks
140 ml (1/4 pint) double cream
Chopped fresh parsley

method

1. To prepare the pastry, sift the flour into a bowl or onto a work surface. Cut the butter into small pieces and begin mixing them into the flour. Mix until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs - this may also be done in a food processor. Make a well in the flour, pour in the milk and add the pinch of salt. Mix with a fork, gradually incorporating the butter and flour mixture from the sides until all the ingredients are mixed. This may also be done in a food processor.

2. Form the dough into a ball and knead for about 1 minute. Leave the dough in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.

3. To prepare the filling, cook whitefish fillets in the water and wine with the red pepper flakes for about 10 minutes or until just firm to the touch. When the fish is cooked, remove it from the liquid and flake it into a bowl with the prawns and the crab meat. Reserve the cooking liquid.

4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour. Gradually strain on the cooking liquid from the fish, stirring constantly until smooth. Add garlic, place over high heat and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add to the fish in the bowl and set aside to cool.

5. On a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry and transfer it with a rolling pin to a tart pan with a removable base. Press the dough into the pan and cut off any excess. Prick the pastry base lightly with a fork and place a sheet of greaseproof paper inside. Fill with rice, dried beans or baking beans and chill for 30 minutes. Bake the pastry shell blind for 15 minutes in a 190°C (375°F) Gas Mark 5 oven.

6. While the pastry is baking, combine the egg yolks, cream and parsley and stir into the fish filling. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. When the pastry is ready, remove the paper and beans and pour in the filling.

7. Return the tart to the oven and bake for a further 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then remove from the pan. Transfer to a serving dish and slice before serving.

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