day two - blue cheese, walnut and leek tarts
Inspired by Bilbo’s blue cheese (and it’s subsequent demise at the hands of Balin and Dwalin), I wanted to make something warm and delicious with a hint of that deliciously tart cheese. I ended up using a lot more than a hint, but the result was oh so delicious.
These are great hot out of the oven, or reheated with a side of bacon or sausage for a great breakfast, second breakfast or elevensies treat. They’ll keep in the fridge for about five days. This recipe makes 12 tarts.
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Leek Tarts - Ingredients
For the tart dough:
1 3/4 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour (plus extra for dusting)
pinch of sea salt
7 tbsp of salted butter, diced (plus a little extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnut halves
2 tbsp salted butter
2 stalks of celery, halved and roughly chopped
1 large leek, white and light green parts, diced
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy (or double) cream
6 oz blue cheese
salt and pepper
Use a bit of butter to lightly grease a regular sized 12 count muffin pan. Mix the flour, salt and diced butter together and either crumble it with your hands, toss it in a food processor, or throw it in your blender. If you go the blender route, remember to pulse it in short five seconds bursts, and shake the blender pitcher to unsettle the flour-butter mixture to keep the blades from sticking and the motor from overheating. Whichever method you choose, the end result should look like buttery breadcrumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the walnuts. Add just enough cold water to make the dough come together in a ball when stirred. Depending on how humid your kitchen is, the amount will vary. It was rainy today when I made these, so I only needed a splash of water, your mileage may vary.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it into a ball. Separate into two balls, and then separate the dough further into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a flat circle about 4 1/2 inches (roughly) in diameter. Press each piece carefully into the muffin pan until they form little cups. Cut some wax or parchment paper into little squares, carefully put them in the dough cups, and fill them with either pie weights or dried beans (I used dried turtle beans). Put the whole thing in the fridge for half an hour, and preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C/Gas Mark 6.
After half an hour, remove the beans/weights and papers, and bake the tart shells for 10 minutes. While they are baking, start the filling. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet until it turns clear, froths and then starts to turn a bit brown and nutty smelling. Don’t let it burn! Reduce the heat to medium and toss in the celery and leeks. Cook for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Remove from heat, stir in two tablespoons of the cream and all of the blue cheese. Stir until the cheese begins the melt and the lot of it is mixed. Heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to bubble and then pour it over the egg yolks, stirring the mixture as you do. Spoon in the cheese mixture until well blended and let it set. By now, the tarts should have been removed from the oven, so spoon the creamy concoction into the tart shells. Don’t panic if you think you’re going to have too much, you won’t! If the mix spills over and covers the tart shells, this is okay as well. Wipe the pan clean before putting in the oven, and bake at the same temperature for 10 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for another 5 minutes.
Let the tarts sit for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. This not only allows them to cool enough to handle, but also lets the filling settle down inside the shells. Serve immediately.
To reheat: heat oven to 350°F/176°C/Gas Mark 4, heat for about 10 minutes
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