Blue Cheese, Kale & Pecan Tart

By: Hanna Mathe, Waterford

This is a delightful dish with an explosion of flavours with every bite. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing with vibrant colours but has a perfect balance of sweet, bitter, sour and savoury; the cheese, pecans and pear are a wonderful combination of opposites in flavour, completed by the crunchy texture of the kale and creaminess of the custard.

Takes: 180 mins Serves: 8

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry

- 200g plain flour

- 100g butter, chilled & cubed

- 35ml of cold water

- Pinch of sugar

For the custard

- 1 whole egg

- 1 egg yolk

- 150ml cream

- 1 tbsp caster sugar

For the filling

- 150g kale, roughly chopped and washed

- 75g pecans, roughly chopped

- 1 small pear, cubed

- 100g Cashel Blue cheese, cubed

- 1 tsp coconut oil

- 1 tsp butter

- Maple syrup to taste

Method

1. Put flour, pinch of sugar and cubed butter into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Gradually add the cold water until the dough just about comes together.

3. Remove from food processor, wrap dough in cling film and chill in fridge for 15 minutes.

4. Make a cartouche of greaseproof paper, roughly 8-10 cm bigger than your tart tin.

5. Remove dough from fridge. On a floured surface, begin "ridging" the pastry disc; holding rolling pin in both hands, loosely tap over the entire surface of the pastry once or twice, turning it at a 90 degree angle and repeating the same process until it has at least doubled in size.

6. Once doubled in size, using short, sharp strokes of the rolling pin roll the pastry out to a thickness of 3mm, turning it while rolling(If pastry is cracking around the edges, stop rolling and seal the cracks with your fingertips). Ensure pastry isn't overworked.

7. Carefully wrap the pastry once or twice around the rolling pin and place it over the tart tin. Lift overhanging pastry up a little, encouraging the pastry inside to fit snugly.

8. Using a piece of overhanging pastry, push the pastry in the tin well into the corners. Using a rolling pin, cut through the pastry and remove overhanging bits from the tin.

9. Insert cartouche and baking beans and chill the pastry for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

10. Preheat oven to 200°C / gas mark 6 and blind bake pastry for 20 minutes.

11. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C / gas mark 4, remove baking beans from pastry and bake for a further 10- 15 minute (to create a protective layer between pastry and wet filling , brush with lightly beaten egg white). Remove from the oven and cool.

12. Make custard by whisking the egg, the yolk and 1 tbsp sugar together. Heat the cream by bringing to a simmer, remove from heat and, using an electric mixer add to the egg mixture.

13. Return custard to the stove and on low heat (should be between 75-85°C), using a wooden spoon stir continuously until it coats the back of the spoon and dragging your finger along the spoon the trail remains intact. Ensure low heat so custard doesn't curdle.

14. Sauté the kale in the teaspoon of butter and coconut oil and set aside to cool.

15. When all your ingredients have cooled, begin filling the tart case by starting with a layer of blue cheese on the bottom, followed by kale, pear and pecans and more cheese. Repeat process until all fillings are used up.

16. Pour custard over the tart evenly and drizzle with maple syrup to taste.

17. Bake in a 180°C / gas mark 4 oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the custard has set and the pecans have toasted (Cover tart with tinfoil 20-25 minutes into baking and return to oven).

18. Remove from oven and cool before slicing.

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