Author Notes: Sometimes you just need an interruption. It can be something as simple as a phone call. In this case it was a good house cleaning but it needed to be something with focus so the brain didn't go round and round or as someone once said, (it wasn't Einstein) "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results". Funny that all this mental hoopla was about tarts. Nevertheless the sun was out and the windows were open and letting in a much needed gentle breeze. The damp ground smelling of spring carried with it the anticipation and promise of the garden, the orchard and all the wonderful dishes that would come from all the veggies and fruits. The orchard is young so there aren't many fruits yet but with each passing year there are more and more. It was thinking about the gorgeous pears that the Colette trees produced that spawned these tartlets. Early next fall, and many times through the winter, when the pears are ripe the tartlets will be made again. The vision is already in place, first will be a languid lunch in the orchard with the tartlets as the first course.
For the crust:
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup plus 2 or 3 tablespoons cold water
for the tartlets:
- 3 thin slices of serrano ham, torn into strips
- 4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
- 3 ounces heavy cream
- 3 bosc pears, firm and just beginning to be ripe, you want them sweet but firm
- a handful of arugula
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- For the crust combine the flour, baking powder, pepper and rosemary with the butter in a mixing bowl. Stir the butter into the flour with a wooden spoon then using your hands cup the flour lightly and rub it back and forth until you have a light mixture with no big butter chunks.
- Mix the egg yolks with a 1/4 cup of cold water and add it to the flour. Using you fingertips stir the dough and then start kneeding it until it holds together but is a little crumbly. Add water by the tablespoon as necessary.
- Dust your work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour. It should be moist but with some crumbles. Start with a 4 inch round disk and then take your rolling pin and beat the crap out of the dough until it is about 8 inches round. Fold the dough into thirds letter style and beat the crap out of it again. Repeat the folding and beat the crap out of it two or three more times, whatever makes you feel good. Lastnightsdinner just think of it as the transit authority.
- Roll the dough out to about a 3/8 inch thickness and then cut it into four 4 x 6 inch squares. Place the squares onto a parchment lined sheet tray. Roll about a 1/4 inch of each side of each crust up and over onto itself an pinch the corners to hold them in place. This creates a lip.
- For the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take two of the pears and cutting lengthwise, cut two 3/8 inch pieces from the center portion of the pear. Usually you can get two pieces from one pear so the third pear is just in case. Core the pears as necessary. Now combine the goat cheese and the cream and mix it till it is creamy and spreadable. Season it with a touch of salt and some fresh ground white pepper. Remember the serrano is salty so not to much salt.
- Lay strips of serrano ham onto the tart crusts and then spread the cheese over it. Lay a pear slice on top of each tartlet, brush the pears with olive oil and season them with salt and pepper and then slide the sheet tray into the hot oven. Set a time for 15 minutes.
- Toss the arugula with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Season the arugula with a pinch of salt.
- When your timer goes off top each tartlet with some of the arugula and then bake the tartlets for another 11 minutes or until browned nicely.
- Let the tarts cool and then serve at room temperature.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)