Yields 12 small tarts.
- Prep time: 1h 10min
- Cook time: 20min
- Total time: 1h 30min
- Difficulty: Intermediate
These tarts make lovely party food or appetizers. Make the tart shells ahead of time and chill them. When you’re finished, top with cheese and pear slices and bake. They go well with some prosciutto and a glass of wine. Instead of making small tarts, you can make one large tart and serve it as a quick weeknight meal.
For the cornmeal pastry crust.
- 150g all-purpose flour
- 100g cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 125g cold butter
- 100g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg
Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pulse in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the cream cheese and the beaten egg. Process until the dough holds together but is not wet or sticky. Shape the dough into a flattened disk on a clean work surface. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Butter 12 10cm tart rings. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
When the dough is cool enough to handle, roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Cut out circles slightly larger than your tart rings, then transfer and gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the tart rings with your fingers. Scrape the remaining dough, knead it together, roll it out, and repeat the process. Refrigerate for 15 minutes after pricking the bottom of each tart with a fork. Remove from the refrigerator and bake for 10 minutes in a blind oven. Allow to cool completely before filling the tarts.
For the pear and cheddar filling.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 small pears, sliced
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 3 teaspoons wholegrain Dijon mustard
- 200g cheddar cheese, grated
- generous pinch of chili flakes
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the pears and cook for 5 minutes. Cook for 2 minutes, gently tossing the pears around the pan, after adding the thyme springs. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
On the bottom of each half-baked tart shell, spread about 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Top with plenty of cheddar cheese and pear slices. Sprinkle each tart with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
Serve immediately, garnished with fresh thyme leaves.
Also known as Kukuruzni Tart S Kruškama I Cheddarom.
Every now and then, I go through a strange food-related phase that I’m not sure how or why it starts, but it just happens. These strange phases usually manifest themselves in me ignoring a certain type of food for no apparent reason.
There was a time in my life when I did not like pears. I had been eating and enjoying pears for the majority of my life up until that point. When I was a kid, I almost choked on my grandmother’s pear compote. When faced with the sweet treat, I apparently thought chewing was a terrible waste of time, so I swallowed the pears along with the sweet sticky syrup and ended up coughing up pear pieces all over the kitchen. According to witnesses, it was not a pretty sight. I’ve been told that I ate the majority of my food in a similar manner and that it’s a miracle that I’m still alive today.
Anyway, last fall, I rediscovered pears. Our grandmother has a large pear tree in front of her house. When we went to see her last October, she insisted on us taking some pears home with us. The fact that Darko despises them and I feel nothing but resignation towards them didn’t bother her, and she carried on with her devilish plan. We ended up with three bags of pears instead of one.
Faced with an abundance of pears, I felt compelled to investigate and discover a way for us to change our minds and begin developing a friendlier relationship with this odd-looking fruit. It didn’t take long for me to revert to my former pear-loving self. But I was surprised by how juicy, succulent, and tasty they are. I cursed myself for not wanting to eat them all along. Darko was a more difficult nut to crack, but I soon discovered that if pears are cooked, roasted, baked, or sautéed, he will eat and even like them. He actually liked them, as long as they weren’t raw. The mission was completed.
Since then, we’ve tried a variety of pear recipes, both sweet and savory, and have enjoyed them all. I especially enjoy them with a strong-flavored cheese and fresh thyme. It may appear to be an odd pairing at first, but it is a match made in heaven, especially when served in a lovely wholesome cornmeal crust.