This savory starter with a hint of sweet is a show stopper. The work is 95% on the prep end, which makes it look easy once you are ready to serve this course. The combination of flavors promises to enchant the taste buds and leave a lasting first impression…
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 good stuff for this, you will be reducing it. I recommend a RED port rather than tawny, for a more appealing presentation
1/2 lb Fourme d’Ambert (a 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.
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.