This is an amalgam of a few things I have been cooking for a while with the added bonus of using membrillo. I saw a recipe from the wonderful Ottolenghi where he used membrillo in a quiche and I realised that the North African themed dishes I had been playing with for a while could be adapted to incorporate fruit cheese in a similar way.
I have making tagines and other dishes using Moroccan spice blends and dates, apricots or figs so substituting membrillo for the fruit made sense. The membrillo is a little sweeter so it is not a direct swap. Below is the adapted recipe which might be a starting off point for someone else to take in their own direction. The combination of strong flavours from the mackerel and feta would cope with some bold spices such as ras-el-hanout or baharat which I do not include in the instructions below but would work really well. The first time I made these I used some fresh mackerel rather than smoked and they tasted great but the smoked adds an extra depth.
The tartlets, as I shall continue calling them, were inspired after visiting our friends’s house in Gillingham a while ago. Bryony made some tartlets using a slice of bread as the container rather than pastry which I thought was fun and saves mucking around with pastry (I never like using pastry). The bread is also slightly lighter than the denser pastry.
I should point out that the mix that goes into the lightly toasted bread cups can be put directly into muffin trays. The egg will bind the ingredients and if you prefer to enjoy the flavours without the bread (or pasty) or have a gluten intolerance then this is worth a go.
To make 12 tartlets
80g Smoked Mackerel fillets
12 medium slices bread
2 medium leeks
5 medium sized closed cup mushrooms
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C
2. Use a rolling pin to flatten a slice of the bread (not the crust)
3. Butter on both sides – used softened butter to avoid damaging the bread
4. Cut the biggest circle you can from the bread. I found a beaker that was the right size and pressed down firmly on the bread to cut the circle
5. Press the circle of bread into a muffin tray mould
6. Once all the slices have been put into the muffin tray cook for about 10 minutes
7. Chop the leek and mushrooms into small pieces and saute in some olive oil
8. After the leek has softened add a little fish stock and let it reduce down a little so there is little liquid left
9. Dice the feta into small cubes
10. Take the mackerel fillet and remove any bones then cut into small pieces
11. Beat the egg
12. After the leek and mushroom have cooled add the feta, mackerel and egg. Mix round to combine all the ingredients.
13. Add black pepper to taste
14. When the bread is cooked and out the oven put this mix into each of the now toasted bread cups
15. Cut the membrillo into small cubes and add to the top of the tartlets. You can mix the membrillo in with everything else but I like the look of it when it adorns the top of each tartlet. The membrillo cubes look rather wonderful with their translucence
16. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the top of the mix is browning
17. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the top of the mix is browning
18. Take out the oven and serve hot or cold. They are wonderful with some rocket, reduced balsamic and roasted tomatoes on the side