Where do you do the majority of your food dreaming? We do ours in the car - usually when we're waiting for son & heir to come out of school. Maybe you don't dream up recipes at times like these, but instead dream of beach holidays, or a fine bottle of wine! Well, this tart was dreamt up (mostly) when we were sat in the car waiting for son & heir.
I had the streaky bacon in the fridge already, as I'd bought it with a view to wrapping the chicken with it on Sunday last, or at the very least using it to contribute some flavour to a chicken and cider casserole. However, neither of those things happened and instead we had a lemon & thyme roasted chicken - which was okay, but nothing to write home about.
So our starting point for the tart was the sole sheet of puff pastry that was lurking in the fridge. I'd very nearly turned it into an apple pie, only to be thwarted by the sudden onset of chauffeuring duties, so it lived to fight another day.
Hence, we'd got the pastry and the bacon - so what went with those, that we hadn't already made? Hubby came up with the pear idea and I embellished it with the Maple syrup. We then needed something to hold everything else together - and a blue cheese seemed the obvious choice. Because of the bacon having the potential to be salty we decided against a creamy Danish Blue as they are often so very salty. A nice piece of Stilton seemed the obvious choice thereafter.
Now, what to serve with the tart? We figured that, as the tart itself would be really quite rich, perhaps a salad would be a good idea - and opted for a mixed salad with walnuts and a walnut vinaigrette. It sounded as though that would complement the ingredients in the tart quite nicely - and so it did. The vinaigrette was a simple matter of crushing 4-5 walnut halves in a pestle & mortar and adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil, some of the gorgeous Maille Cider Vinegar, plus sea salt & freshly ground black pepper. Powerful stuff - but very effective.
This isn't a meal to serve to young children, as the flavours are incredibly adult and the juxtaposition of the sweet pear, salty bacon, rich cheese and dry, earthy walnuts is not for the faint-hearted. I was pleased that son & heir managed the whole very well, albeit he opted not to have the vinaigrette. He did have some walnuts on his salad, though. As a 13 year old gastronome, I think he's showing promise. His comment was that the tart was lovely, but the sweetness of the maple pears was a bit too much for his taste.
I know that, next time I make this tart, I'll abandon the idea of the Maple syrup even though it accentuated the flavour of the pear beautifully. Maple syrup seems to have an unwanted effect upon me, much the same as Asparagus does. 'Nuff said. Still, I don't think that the tart will notice the lack of Maple syrup.
|Just look at that expanse of melted Stilton .. mmmn!|
The pear I used was a Comice - an enormous Comice - which was slightly under ripe. Owing to the fact that it was quite hard, it pan-fried perfectly. I wouldn't want to try pan frying a ripe pear, as I suspect you'd wind up with pear mush rather than discernible slices!
As I said previously, I love making tarts - and this one was no exception.
STILTON, BACON & MAPLE PEAR TART (serves 4)
250g smoked streaky bacon, sliced into small pieces
1-2 Comice pears, peeled, cored and cut into slices 2-3mm thick
1 tbsp Maple syrup (optional)
160g sheet of puff pastry, ready rolled
170g Stilton cheese
2. Take a frying pan and add the bacon. Dry fry over a medium heat, to render the fat out of the bacon and until it has just begun to crisp. (Don't cook until crisp, or the bacon will overcook in the oven). Remove and set aside to cool.
3. In the bacon fat, place the slices of pear and cook over a high heat until caramelised. Don't keep turning the slices - just leave them where they are, but check the underside until it has reached a nice golden colour - then turn. If you are using the Maple syrup, drizzle it over the pears after you have laid them into the pan.
4. Once the pears are done, turn the heat off and begin to assemble the tart.
5. Take a large baking tray that is bigger than your sheet of pastry.
6. Lay the pastry onto the baking tray and make sure it is evenly flattened out. Then taking a sharp knife, score - without cutting through - a line 1" inside the edge to demark where the tart crust should be.
7. Taking the pear slices, lay each one onto the middle of the tart in a pleasing and even arrangement. Do not be tempted to pour the pan juices over, or the tart will become too greasy.
8. Next, sprinkle the bacon pieces evenly over the pear slices, remembering to leave the crust edge uncovered.
9. Crumble the Stilton cheese evenly over the bacon.
10. Place into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust has risen and browned to a deep gold.
11. Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes or so, just to settle, before slicing and serving.