Cool Weather Perfect for Pastry, Pears and Savory Tarts
Now that the crisp, cool air of fall and winter is finally upon the Lowcountry, appetites build for satisfying, belly-warming fare. I lit my first official fireplace blaze of the season last night, pondering the crackle and snap of the aged wood, experiencing its final act after a long year's nap in the wood pile. It set my mind to dreaming about this fabulous Beefy Pear, Roquefort, and Walnut Tart, which is a wonderful celebration of fall and is perfect for entertaining both for its simplicity and rustic elegance.
It is a free-form savory/sweet tart (a.k.a. galette) and is drenched in the pungent flavors of the Mediterranean. Local honey and fresh lemon juice provide the "sauce" that gently envelops soft Bartlett pears and toothsome walnuts. Bresaoloa—air-dried, salted beef that hails from Italy—gives it beefy depth and chew. It all gets topped off with mild Roquefort cheese and a generous dusting of freshly ground black pepper.
Adapted from Tart Love - Sassy, Savory, and Sweet (Gibbs Smith, October 2011), this tart has no tricks and is definitely a treat. Happy cooking and bon appetit!
(Photo by Helene Dujardin.)
Beefy Pear, Roquefort and Walnut Free-Form Tarts
(Makes two tarts; serves 8 to 12)
*Equipment Needed: parchment paper, baking sheet
For the pastry:
- 2 1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) AA grade unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 1/4" cubes
- 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- 3 Tbs. ice-cold water, or just enough to hold the pastry together
For the filling:
- 3 ripe but still firm Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
- 6 slices bresaola (available at most deli counters), coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 3/4 cup local honey
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- Pinch salt
- Generous dash cinnamon
- 2 Tbs. flour
- 1 egg wash (yolk, pinch salt, splash water blended together
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup Roquefort or another mild blue cheese, crumbled
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, pulse together the flour and the salt until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse, 40 - 50 times, or until the butter is the size of small peas and evenly incorporated throughout the flour. Add the thyme and pulse 5 - 10 times to combine. Gradually, stream in the ice-cold water until the flour just comes together in a slightly messy, crumbly ball. Turn the mixture out onto your work surface and quickly form into a 2-inch thick, round disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight) before rolling out.
Gently toss together all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl, being careful to coat all the fruit and filling completely. Chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface in two 10 -12-inch rounds. Using your rolling pin, ease each pastry round onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Plop the filling into the center of the pastry circle and spread evenly into a circle, until the filling is about 1 inch thick. Trim borders of the pastry circles with kitchen scissors so you have about 2 inches of free pastry space all around the filling. (Note: It does not have to be perfectly symmetrical. You are shooting for a rustic, country look). Use your palm to cup the pastry around the filling, folding in creases about every two inches as you move around the filling. Press gently with the palm of your hand to make sure everything is sealed. Brush the pastry top and sides lightly with the egg wash. Sprinkle the open part of the filling with the cheese and pepper. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
Serve warm or at room temperature as an appetizer, main course, or dessert.