Tomato & Chard Crostata with Barber’s Cheddar

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableCharlie Barber is by all accounts, a pretty good cook. I wish I had to thought to ask him more about what and how he likes to cook but quite honestly, last week at the BBC Good Food Show, I had cheese goggles on and only had eyes for the cheese – that judging room for the World Cheese Awards is my idea of heaven! Those of you who know me, know how much I LOVE cheese – my favourite course at any dinner is the cheeseboard; I love having people round for a meal because it gives me an excuse to buy some extra special cheese. One Christmas, I remember eating far too much of the preceding courses and couldn’t manage a scrap of cheese. I was so cross with myself – we had bought some gorgeous cheeses that year.  Anyway, when Charlie threw down a challenge to come up with a recipe using my local produce and their delicious Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, I wasn’t going to refuse!

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableI’ve been wanting to make one of those free form open crostatas for some time with a lovely flaky, buttery pastry;  pastry and cheese is always delicious so there was the start of the recipe. Our veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm, is full of seasonal produce which has been grown locally without the use of pesticides. I had some of their beautiful late season Rainbow Chard that was begging to be used as well as some of their onions.

Chard, onions and Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

Chard, onions and Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheese

I also had some large slicing tomatoes from the local greengrocers but they would need to be roasted, low and slow to get rid of a lot of their moisture. The tomatoes may have been a subconscious thing because Elaine had tried some sundried tomatoes from one of the many small producer food stands at the Good Food Show and said how delicious they were…Slow roasting them this way really intensifies the tomato flavour and is great way to treat tomatoes that may not have the flavour they should. I like to make batches of them and store them in oil to use in sandwiches, pasta dishes and sauces.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes | Selma's Table

Slow roasting the tomatoes

I love tarragon with tomatoes and it goes well with the earthiness of beetroot too. Chard is a member of the beet family so it seemed like a natural combination. Nonetheless, before I added in the tarragon, I conducted a little taste test with a spoonful of cooked chard, caramelised onion and a sprinkle of cheddar just to make sure and it did work really well together. That aniseed flavour does not appeal to everyone so replace it with rosemary, thyme or even basil if you are so inclined.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableThis recipe is best made over two days. Slow roast the tomatoes, caramelise the onions and make the dough on the first day. The smell of the slowly roasting tomatoes and caramelising onions will drive you and anyone else around, mad with unrequited sensory hunger so I suggest having something strongly flavoured to snack on! On the second day, sauté the chard, roll out the dough then assemble and bake the crostata.

Layering galette | Selma's Table

Layering galette

The pastry is a basic shortcrust pastry using half fat to flour, a pinch of salt (I used vegetable stock powder to give it a more savoury flavour) and just enough iced water to make it come together. The trick is to cut the cold unsalted butter into quite small cubes with a small sharp knife and put these back into the fridge. The butter needs to be really cold so that you can rub – well, slide really,  the butter between your fingers, into the flour and into flakes without it melting. Stir in the iced water a little at a time. Once the dough has come together, wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour.

A very flaky shortcrust pastry | Selma's Table

Making the dough

Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper using one of the sheets to transfer it onto the baking sheet. This produced a really seriously flaky pastry that even Jake commented on.

A very flaky shortcrust pastry | Selma's Table

Rolling out the shortcrust dough between two sheets of parchment paper

This crostata is full of flavour with the intensely flavoured slow roasted tomatoes, the caramelised onions, the earthy chard, the aniseed of tarragon and Barber’s superb Vintage Reserve cheddar cheese. It is wonderful as a light lunch or supper dish or as part of a mezze style table.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's Table

I’m taking this Tomato and Chard Crostata with Barber’s Cheddar to the party animals over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #44. Today she has made some stunning sandwiches with leftovers from Thanksgiving. Only Angie can take a bit of roast turkey and some bread and make it look like something from a magazine spread! Co-hosting today are two of my favourite story tellers –  Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport. Their posts are always inspirational, touching and funny. Their amazing recipes are a bonus!!

Tomato & Chard Crostata with Barber's Cheddar

  • Servings: 4 as a main or 6 - 8 slices as part of a tapas
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes

  • 600 g tomatoes (cherry, plum, slicing, heirloom)
  • 30ml/ 2Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbps finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

For the Caramelised Onions

  • 1 large or 2 medium white onion, finely sliced
  • 30ml/ 2Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pinch of salt

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 160g flour
  • ½ tsp vegetable stock powder or ¼ tsp of salt
  • 80 g cold unsalted butter
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp iced water

To finish

  • 200g chard, leaves and stems
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 Tbsp creme fraiche
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 100 g Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp of milk


For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 100C/200F.
  2. If the tomatoes are large, slice them horizontally into 4 slices. If they are cherry or plum tomatoes, slice them vertically, into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, season and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary.
  4. Roast for between 2 – 6 hours. The time really depends on how much moisture they have and how thick the slices are. My slices took 4 hours. I checked every hour after the first two looking for the slices to be fairly dry but still soft. Once they have cooled off, use a slice to lift them off and place in a bowl scraping the gorgeous concentrated tomato juice and oil off the sheet and over them. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

For the Caramelised Onions

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the finely sliced onions.
  2. Stir in a pinch of salt and when the onions are coated in the oil and butter, turn the heat down to low and let this cook down for about an hour. Stir from time to time – the onions should cook down to a pale gold sticky mass. Cool and refrigerate until needed.

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Place the flour and stock powder or salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.
  2. Toss the cold butter cubes through the flour to coat them; then working quickly, slide them (as if you were clicking your fingers and thumb) between your fingers and thumb into the flour, over and over again – you want flat, flour-coated shards of butter flakes as well as the usual coarse sand type mixture.
  3. Using a fork, stir in 2 – 3 Tbsp of water. Then, use your fingertips to bring the dough together – handle it as lightly and as little as possible. If you need additional water to bring it together, then add it one table spoon at a time. I needed 4 Tbsp. Keep it in the bowl as you bring it together into a ball – remember to handle it lightly and as little as possible. Press lightly into a disc then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days.

To finish and assemble

  1. Fill the sink with water and swish the chard leaves about. Leave them in the sink for any grit to settle on the bottom.
  2. In the meantime, finish off the onions by stirring through the creme fraiche and the tarragon and set aside. Grate the cheese and set aside. Remove the slow roasted tomatoes from the fridge and set aside. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully scoop the chard out of the sink and cut out the stems. I fold them in half along the stem and use a pair of scissors to snip them out quickly. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. While it is heating, slice the chard stems into 1 cm pieces stir into the pan together with the fennel seeds. With lots of water clinging to the chard leaves, roughly chop them. Once the stems have softened a little – 3 or 4 minutes, stir in the chopped leaves, season lightly and let these cook down for about a minute. Then turn off the heat and let this cool while you get on with the pastry.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F.
  5. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper, flipping it over from time to time until it is about 30 cm/12 inches in diameter. It will be quite thin. You can also roll it out on a lightly flour dusted work surface (no need to flip) but rolling it out between parchment paper makes the process so much easier. Once it is approximately the right size, peel off the top parchment paper and use the bottom one to transfer it onto a baking sheet, leaving the parchment underneath it.
  6. Leaving a 3 cm/1 inch border around the edge, sprinkle over half the cheese. Spread the onion mixture on top of the cheese and cover this with the cooked chard. Sprinkle over most of the remaining cheese then top with the tomatoes and a final sprinkle of cheese. Drizzle over any oily tomato juices which may have collected then fold over the border, pleating the pastry as you go along. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Cool on a rack and serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Barber’s Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Elaine, Simon Barber and me – Photo courtesy of

Last Saturday, Elaine (from foodbod) and I were very fortunate to be at the BBC Good Food Show as guests of Barber’s Farmbouse Cheesemakers.  We were met at the Press Desk by Duncan from their PR company who armed us with press passes (for which I was extremely grateful later, as with them, we had access to the calm of the Press Room, far, far from the madding crowd) and then Elaine and I immediately went off for a natter and a restorative green tea and a double espresso – I will leave you to guess who had what!

Following a call from Duncan (very The Apprentice!), we went off to meet Simon and Charlie Barber at the Barber’s stand, which was right next to thousands of cheeses laid out on tables for the World Cheese Awards.

Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Some of the many tables groaning under the weight of over 2,000 cheeses at the World Cheese Awards

The WCA had over 2,000 entries from cheese makers all over the world and these had been judged on Friday. Barbers came away with 8 awards for their cheeses, including a  Super Gold for their Vintage Farmhouse Cheddar, which was voted 3rd best, making it one of the top 50 in the world.  During the judging, they were at Number 1 (Champion) for quite some time. Coming in 3rd overall with a haul of  2 golds, 4 silvers, 1 bronze and that fabulous Super Gold is pretty good going in a competition of over 2000 entries!

Some facts about the Barber Family and their traditional cheese making process:

  • The Barber Family has been farming and making cheddar at Maryland Farm in Didcheat, Somerset, since 1833, making them the oldest cheesemaker in England.
  • Six generations of Barbers have sustained the family business.
  • The Barber Family are the sole guardians of the original live starter culture which contains the friendly bacteria that start the cheese making process.
  • This culture has been kept alive through the years, surviving two World Wars as well as the near disappearance of traditional cheddar cheese making which began with the arrival and popularity of freeze dried starter cultures. These are cheaper to use but cannot compare in to the complexity and depth of flavour achieved using a live culture.

‘Our starter culture is the signature of our cheese.  We’re simply doing just as our ancestors did, only these days we have the technology to choose the blend of bacteria that we think makes our cheese taste the best.  Our starters provide character and individuality.  It’s what makes our cheddar taste so good, so more-ish.  It gives it structure and flavour.

‘As a family we decided that traditional starter cultures needed to be protected – if they died out then proper West Country cheddar would too.  So we set up a lab to keep the cultures safe and to this day the process continues.  In essence, the culture starts everything off; we keep a little of the new milk and starter mixture back; which then becomes the starter for the next batch; and so it continues, every day, and hopefully for many more years, and generations of Barber’s to come.    Nicholas Barber.

  • In the 1950’s, the family invested  in their own labs to preserve the rapidly diminishing starter cultures critical in making farmhouse cheddar and it is thanks to the Barber Family that we can still enjoy traditional farmhouse cheddar today.
  • Barbers also supplies cultures for surrounding cheddar producers such as Wyke Farms and Montgomery’s.
  • Barbers continue with many traditional cheesemaking methods such as turning cheddar curds by hand – cheddaring – in open vats.
  • The cheddar is aged in special wooden boxes which maintain a firm, closed structure.
  • The company has been given Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status that protects and establishes their cheese as being made in its ancestral home using the traditional recipes and methods practiced since cheddar was first developed.
Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar – creamy and slightly nutty – just so delicious!

  • Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar has a unique complexity that can only be found in cheddar made with a traditional starter culture.
  • Barbers 1833 Vintage Cheddar is matured for 24 months and will only leave the farm when one of the Barber Family have tasted and approved it.

Our Vintage Reserve Cheddar 1833 is firm to the touch, has a consistent creamy colour throughout and a smooth texture interspersed with small, crunchy crystals.  These are not made of salt, but calcium lactate and should be present in good quality aged cheddar of about 18 months or over.  It’s a good indication that the cheese has been made well and is old enough to be full-flavoured and tasty.

  • The copious by-product of the cheese making process, whey, is not wasted. From whey butter to vodka; concentrated powdered protein for food products to lactose for livestock feed; even the resulting water that is used to wash down the barns is then filtered again to the highest river water quality. Truly sustainable farming which is just so admirable.Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Did you know?

  • Mature cheddar melts and blends better than other cheeses
  • It takes 10 litres of milk to make 1 kg of Cheddar
  • Cheddar cheese contains more protein and less sodium than most other cheeses
  • Due to it’s minimal lactose content, Cheddar is suitable for those who are mildly lactose intolerant
  • Cheddar originates from the village of Cheddar (a few miles away from Maryland Farm) in Somerset.
  • Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese.
  • The name Cheddar comes from the Old English word ceodor, for deep dark cavity or pouch which references the caves that the cheese matured in

Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,240 lb (4,640 kg) at a farthing per pound.  Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village…Wikipedia

Elaine and I reluctantly left, having listened to Simon and Charlie, who are so incredibly passionate about their cheese, tell us about their history and the cheese making process. We tasted all sorts of delicious cheeses made by the family including a lovely hard goat’s cheese and a smoked cheese made by their cousins in Wookey Hole.

Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

A selection of cheeses from Barbers and their cousins at Wookey Hole

I also had a shot of the Black Cow Vodka, despite the early hour and have to say that it was utterly smooth and very, very drinkable. Drinkable until the cows come home according to their very cool, animated  video and I would not argue with that!

Barber's Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Super smooth Black Cow Vodka

We also came away with a very smart green Barber’s cool bag with a over a kilo of their Vintage Reserve Cheddar and a booklet full of recipes. I shall be posting the recipe I developed using my local produce and their cheese as challenged by Charlie Barber.

We are hoping to visit Maryland Farm in the spring and I can’t wait! Wellies at the ready, Somerset, here we come!

So now that I have whetted your appetite, you obviously want to know how to get your hands on this award winning, gorgeous cheddar cheese. Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar is available from Fortnum & Mason, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, delicatessens and farm shops nationwide and directly through in the UK. It is also available from Whole Foods in the States;  Harris Farm Markets and independent retailers in Australia; Dean and Deluca in Dubai so google them to see if they are available in your country.

Full disclosure – Barbers supplied us with press passes and cheese to take home but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sharing this with the hungry hordes over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #43 which this week is being co-hosted for the second week running by Tracy @Scratch It and Stephanie @The Cozy Cook. Thank you ladies – it’s going to be a blast!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.