Today I want to share one of my favorite recipes, it is a 5 star starter. I found this in the November 2000 Wine Spectator (which is the month I got married- and today is our 13th anniversary, btw!!) This recipe made me look like a rockstar bride chef. So don’t tell my husband how easy this recipe actually is, let’s keep the illusion alive. I figure it’s only fair that I share it as holiday season gears up. 1st impressions are everything, even with a dinner party menu… if you start with this, you might become legendary in your guests’ memories… The best thing about it is that it is basically prep work, and then quick assembly once you are ready to serve dinner. Let me know how you like it. I know your guests will be asking for seconds!
Fourme d’Ambert Tart With Port-Braised Asian Pear
1 sheet of commercial all-butter puff pastry (more may be necessary, depending on their size)
2 Asian Pears (*aka Asian Pear Apples or Apple Pears)
1 bottle (750 ml) Port *don’t pull out the investment grade port here, you will be reducing it
1/2 lb Fourme d’Ambert (soft Roquefort may be substituted)
Cracked Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough to a 7-by-13-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut it into eight 3″ rounds. Place the rounds on a baking sheet, cover with parchment paper, and place another baking sheet on top to weight the puff pastry and prevent it from rising. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Peel and core the Asian pears, and place them in a saucepan. Cover with the port and bring to a simmer. Poach for 10-30 min, depending on size and ripeness; they should be tender when done. Remove the pears from the liquid, return the Port to the stove, and boil it until it reduces to a syrup, 20 to 30 minutes.
Turn the oven to broil, and allow it to heat thoroughly. (translation: top off your glass and go refresh your guests drinks…. and let them know it’s almost showtime.)
Thinly slice the cheese (it’s fine if it crumbles as you slice it), and cover each of the puff pastry rounds with it. It is important to make sure that the edges of each round are completely covered or they will scorch. Arrange the tarts on a baking sheet and place under the broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and brown slightly, about a minute or two.
Thinly slice the pears and fan out the slices over the tarts. Place the tarts on individual plates, and drizzle the Port wine syrup around them. Sprinkle a little cracked black pepper into the syrup. Serves 8.