It’s my first Wine Pairing Weekend post! This is going to be fun. I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like wines and pairing them with delicious foods. When I heard that the theme for this month was pairing Fall fruits with wine, I started thinking about what I could make. I absolutely love Fall…I love to cook and bake all year long, but there’s something about this season that settles my soul. The cool, crisp air (when it finally arrives here in Southern California!), the gorgeous colors of the leaves and the comfort foods all combine to bring a peacefulness to the air.
There are so many possibilities for parings of Fall fruits and wines; there were all kinds of recipes and ideas for recipes jangling around in my head and I couldn’t decide which to choose… And then a gorgeous gift arrived in the form of a box of produce from my friends at Melissa’s Produce…it contained lovely quinces, jujubees, cape gooseberries (check out the Maple Gooseberry Vinaigrette in my past post, yum!), and…the most beautiful Starkrimson Pears.
Pears are one of Fall’s best-loved fruits, and they are so versatile. Their juicy, mellow flavor and buttery texture fit well in both sweet and savory dishes. I came up with a dish that is easy to prepare, can be used as either an appetizer or a main dish, and is a delicious combination of sweet, savory and salty, with a little bit of zing. I used Kerrygold’s Blarney Castle, which is a delicious, creamy, Gouda-style cheese, just perfect with the pears and the ham I decided to throw into the mix. Blarney Castle is a mild cheese and if you wanted more tartness you could absolutely use their Dubliner, which is closer to cheddar cheese in texture and taste. Oh, and it’s made with puff pastry…what’s not to love about that? It looks gorgeous, and your guests will be totally impressed – but just between us, this is really just a fancy open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, if you think about it…not so intimidating now, right? (Shhh…don’t tell them!)
Although you can make your own puff pastry (and it’s on my list of things to try), using store bought is just fine, and that’s what I did here. I defrosted it in the refrigerator, then placed it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and rolled it out just enough to smooth it and work the creases out. Then I put it back into the fridge while I prepared the rest of the ingredients.
I grated the cheese and sliced the pears, being careful to keep the slices close together so that it would be a little easier to lay them out onto the tart crust.
I pulled the pastry out of the refrigerator and spread the sweet-hot mustard over it, then laid out the slices of ham (prosciutto or turkey would be lovely here too). On top went the cheese, and then I layered on the sliced pears. It did take a few minutes but it wasn’t difficult at all. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this stuff but you don’t have to be. Layer on the pears however you like.
Bake it, brush it with some apricot jam, sprinkle on some fresh thyme, and enjoy – with a delicious wine, of course!
We paired the tart with a La Crema 2012 Monterey Chardonnay, and it was lovely. The cool climate on the coast makes the wine clean and crisp, emphasizing the flavor of the Chardonnay grapes. This crispness makes it more light than it is buttery, as many Chardonnays are, and it has notes of pineapple, fruit and flowers. The slightly tart flavor of the wine perfectly balanced the richness of the tart, with its pastry, cheese, sweet-hot mustard and jam.
So there you have it! My first pairing post. Admittedly, I have a ways to go before I can say I’m a true connoisseur – but I do know what I like, and I do like this Autumn Puff Pastry Tart with the La Crema Monterey Chardonnay.
As with many of my recipes, I encourage you to change up the ingredients to suit your preferences. Change the fruits, cheese and meat in the tart and of course, this will change the wine you choose to go with it. Try it with Honey Crisp Apples, turkey and cheddar…or peaches and chicken and Fontina…take advantage of the season and use what’s ripe. Pair with wines that appeal to you and that you think will complement the ingredients in the tart. Choose a couple of wines and see how they compare. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy!
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 3 Starkrimson Pears (or any pear)
- 7 oz. package Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese
- 4 oz. thinly sliced ham (you can use prosciutto if you like)
- ¼ cup Chinese-style sweet-hot mustard
- 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- ¼ cup apricot preserves
- fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Place the puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet, carefully unroll it and roll it out just to remove the creases. Place back in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Grate the cheese - I used the largest holes on the box grater.
- Slice the pears in half and core them using a melon-ball scoop, then slice them thinly, keeping them together for easier layering on the tart pastry.
- Bring the pastry out of the refrigerator and use an offset spatula to spread the mustard on the pastry.
- Lay the ham slices on top of the mustard, evenly covering the pastry.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the ham.
- Lay the pears out in whatever pattern you like (if your pastry is rectangular you might want to lay them out in a few rows).
- Sprinkle the sugar lightly over the pears . You may not need it all.
- Place in the center of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed and the pears are starting to get a little brown.
- Heat the apricot preserves in the microwave 20 seconds at a time, until it is warm and easily spreadable.
- Use a pastry brush to gently brush the top of the tart with the jam.
- Strip the thyme leaves off the stems and sprinkle over the top top of the tart.
- Slice into wedges or squares and serve. This is best served warm.
I’m really happy to be posting on the #winePW – Wine Pairing Weekend for the first time! The bloggers who post love to cook, love wine and love to share their passions with you. Check out the other great postings for this month’s Fall Fruit and Wine Pairing:
Pumpkin Lasagna with Halter Ranch’s Côtes de Paso by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Squash and Sausage Soup with Pumpkin Cornbread and McKinley Springs 2010 Bombing Range Red by Tasting Pour
Linguine with Roasted Carnival Squash and a Garnacha by Cooking Chat
Pinot Vs. Syrah – Pork Tenderloin with Fig & Apple Sauce by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Apple Cider Pork with Red Cabbage and Oak Aged Apple Cider by Curious Cuisiniere
Harvest Fruits-Maple Crisp paired with a Riesling by Eliot’s Eats
Caramelized Almond Apple Upside Down Cake with a Late Harvest Riesling by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Forgotten Fire Late Harvest Riesling and Warm Apple Crisp by Grape Experiences
Peach and Ginger Cobbler and Tablas Creek Petit Manseng by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
Autumn Puff Pastry Tart and La Crema Chardonnay by It’s Okay to Eat the Cupcake
Wines for a Sweet & Savory Fall Harvest Meal by foodwineclick
Fall Fruit and Wine Pairing by Rockin Red Blog
Autumn Pumpkin Food Flair by Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog
Butternut Squash Risotto: White Wine or Rosé by Pull That Cork
Want to know more and add your two cents? Join the #winePW chat with @Culinary_Cam and @winePW on Saturday at 11am ET!
Bon appetit ~ a votre sante!
*I’m happy to share that the wonderful people at Melissa’s Produce supplied the beautiful Starkrimson Pears for this post. I was not compensated in any other way, and all the opinions expressed here are mine.