Sunday, June 22, 2014

Comte Cheese Tart + White Beans with Shallots, Herbs and Tomatoes

A recent celebratory dinner for Arabella Page's One-Year Gotcha/Forever Date included this cheese tart as a centerpiece component. Among other sides we also served stewed navy beans with tomatoes and herbs. While these two are a match made in heaven, sorta like Arabella and Lloyd, they don't have to be enjoyed together. The beans are a splendid side dish to all meats and poultry and perfectly respectable as a vegetarian entree alongside crusty French bread and a well composed green salad.

COMTE CHEESE TART

Comte is a cave-aged Gruyere cheese, deeply nutty in flavor and fairly easy to find these days. If you have however difficulty locating Comte, substitute Gruyere instead and add 2 T. of grated Parmesan to the recipe.

Begin with a pie crust, homemade or store-bought. We won't judge you if you take the easy route. Lay the crust into a 9" pie pan and arrange the edges attractively. Don't use a traditional tart pan; it won't be deep enough. Prick the pie crust all over with a fork and bake in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while you make the tart filling.

Bring 2 cups whole milk to just a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl beat 4 eggs very well. Slowly add the hot milk, little by little, in a thin stream. Whisk the eggs continuously while adding milk. Immediately add 1 1/4 cups grated Comte cheese and 1/4 t. grated nutmeg. Season with plenty of salt and white pepper and stir to mix.

Pour the mixture into the cooled pie shell and bake at 375 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until the tart is puffed and cooked through.

Serve at room temperature or just above.


SMALL WHITE BEANS A LA BORDELAISE

Cook 1 cup of dried navy beans (the tiny white ones) until tender via your preferred method. Cafe Drake HRV uses our slow cooker for dried beans - count on 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dried beans, about 5 hours on Low setting, give or take. No need to pre-soak the beans if cooking this way.

Once the beans have been cooked, drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Set all aside while you heat in a large skillet 2 T. each of butter and olive oil. Over medium heat add 4 diced shallots (or 1 red onion) and cook for 3 minutes. Add 2 minced plum tomatoes (peeled first, canned tomatoes OK) along with 2 T. minced parsley, some chopped fresh thyme and chopped fresh savory (summer, winter, it matters not). Sprinkle in a pinch of grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add the reserved cooking liquid. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes and serve hot or warm.

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