from one generation to the next
I’m totally enamoured with the unconventional recipe for shortcrust I posted a few months ago. It’s liberated me from a tart free world. The fact that it makes a big enough quantity for two 30cm tarts makes it perfect in my eyes, one for now and one to freeze in the tin, unbaked, for another meal.
On a recent rainy day, with no desire to leave the house I decided to use a frozen tart case for a lunch dish. I’d bought a wedge of blue cheese with a tart in mind but hadn’t refined my thoughts further. Blue cheese has a natural affinity with fruit, but I do not, so I opted to add just a touch of restrained sweetness with some meltingly soft caramelised fennel.
The combination of buttery pastry, buttery fennel and rich blue cheese screamed for some restraint, so I chose skimmed milk for the custard.
I really underestimated the synergy of the flavours I was combining. The subtle sweetness of the fennel, the bite of the black pepper and the rich sharp blue cheese were wonderful together.
Don’t buy expensive blue cheese to make this tart and choose a crumbly rather than a creamy variety. Remember to keep some of the feathery green tops off the fennel for garnish.
Peppery Blue Cheese Tart with Caramelised Fennel
1 X 30cm shallow tart tin lined with shortcrust and baked blind. I used this recipe.
2 small bulbs of fennel trimmed and finely sliced
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
200g blue cheese
4 large eggs
250mls skimmed milk
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper extra
Trim and thinly slice the fennel, then rinse under running water.
In a small pan melt the butter, add the wet fennel, then cover the pan tightly and lower the heat.
Sweat the fennel until it is meltingly soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat up, add the sugar and vinegar and stir the fennel until the sugar has melted and all the moisture has evaporated.
Stir in the cracked black pepper. Allow to cool a little.
Pre heat the oven to 160C.
Crack the eggs into a measuring jug, then add enough milk to double the volume. You need about 500mls. Whisk until the eggs and milk are well combined.
Spread the fennel over the base of the blind baked pastry.
Crumble the blue cheese evenly over the fennel leaving some bigger chunks.
Carefully pour the custard over the cheese.
Scatter over the remaining 2 teaspoons of cracked pepper.
Bake the tart until the custard in the centre is set, 20-25 minutes. The time will depend on your oven.
Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes.
Remove from the tin and serve garnished with some feathery fennel fronds.