Recipe: Roasted vegetable tart with bavette steak and homemade Crowdie cheese

MAKING YOUR OWN cheese is more straightforward than you might think. There are some great cheese making kits out there, but they are pretty costly and not actually necessary. We have made cheese for thousands of years after all! This post will not only will teach you how to knock up your own cheese, but will provide a tasty recipe to add to your culinary repertoire at the same time.

Rennet is crucial in the cheese making process, as it separates the solid curds from the liquid whey. You will find it in Lakeland or online, but lemon juice will do the same job if you can't find it. I also have a plastic pot (see link above) with holes in that allows the whey to drain from the curds as the cheese presses, although you could just do it Blue Peter-style and cut up a plastic bottle. You will also need some cheese or muslin cloth.

I'm using a really cheap and tasty cut of beef here called bavette, which comes from the flank.  Often overlooked in favour of the Rolls Royce cuts like fillet or sirloin, bavette just needs a quick flash in a hot pan - perfect for a steak sandwich or salad.  It's also a useful cut for marinading.

This dish was really created from veg I had in the cupboard that needed to be used up, so feel free to be creative. The difficulty in making good cheese is finding quality milk, so look for organic or visit your local farmers' market*.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1x 500g packet, puff pastry
200g bavette steak
1x courgette, sliced
1x yellow pepper, sliced
2x cloves of garlic, grated
2x medium red onions, sliced
1x parsnip, sliced
1x red chilli, chopped
1x egg, beaten
Sriracha chilli sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper

For the cheese:
1 litre of organic milk
1 tbsp vegetarian rennet (you can use lemon juice if you can't find rennet)
2tbsp good quality sea salt


1) First make the cheese. Warm the milk to 37C (if you don't have a thermometer, dip your finger in.  It should feel just warm and no more). Add the rennet and 1tbsp salt and gently stir.  The curds and whey should begin to separate.  Line the mould with the cheese cloth.  With a slotted spoon, drain the liquid from the curds and pack tightly into the mould, salting with every new batch.  Fold in the cloth and place a glass or tin on top.  Place in the fridge for 24 hours.

2) Bring the pastry to room temperature.  Roll out to the thickness of £1.  With the back of a knife, gently score a rectangle 1 inch inside the pastry being careful not to cut right through. Prick the inner rectangle with a fork.  

3) Place a frying pan on a medium heat.  Add a little oil and gently fry the veg off for two mins.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Set aside to cool.  

4) Egg wash the pastry.  Layer the cooked veg inside the rectangle, season and place in the oven at 180C for 20-22 mins.

5) While the tart finishes off cooking, place a griddle pan on a high heat.  Fry the steak for 30-45 seconds on each side.  Season and set aside for two mins to rest. Cut into strips.

6) Remove the tart from the oven.  Crumble over the cheese.  Layer over the steak.  Season lightly and dress with Sriracha sauce.

*(I always prefer raw milk, although it's not available to buy in Scotland, you can buy it online here