It’s the weekend. You’re in France. Cheese is always on the menu. So what better way to focus the foodie in you than by trying out three delectable new recipes courtesy of Comté and chef Laura Pope.
Onion Tart with apples, bacon and Comté
For the pastry
Feel free to skip this and buy some ready made puff pastry. But this ‘rough puff’ stuff is delicious and not too tricky.
250g strong white plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
250g unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
About 75ml cold water
For the filling
3 tablespoons light olive oil
400g yellow onions (about 4 medium onions), thinly-sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
A sprig of fresh thyme
1 crisp eating apple
8 slices streaky bacon
200g Comté, sliced (18 or 24 months aged would give a deep, nutty taste)
- To make the pastry: sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in loosely (you need to see bits of butter). Make a well in the bowl and pour in the water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough (add extra water if needed). Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 20 mins.
- Put the pastry onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks – you should have a marbled effect. Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.
- When the pastry is chilled, roll it into a square just over 1cm thick and cut it into 4 equal-sized pieces, then roll these out until 3mm thick – they should be about 18cm to 20cm diameter. Stack the pastry squares with squares of non-stick parchment in between, cover and refrigerate.
- Make the filling: warm the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes, until the onions start to colour. Lower the heat and stir in the garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook until the onions are generally golden and tender, but not mushy – about 15 minutes in total. If they dry out, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cool the onions completely, remove the thyme and strip the leaves into the onions. Discard the bay leaf.
- Cut the apple into 1mm slices. Cut the bacon into 1cm strips, place in a small frying pan over a low heat for 2 minutes until the fat starts to melt into the pan. Drain off the fat, remove from the heat and toss the apple slices with the bacon.
- Heat oven to 205˚C (185˚C fan).
- Remove the pastry squares from the fridge and lightly score a 2cm border around the edge. Place the squares (on their parchment) onto 2 baking sheets. Divide the onion mixture over the pastry, staying within the border. Press in the warm apples and bacon, ensuring they lay flat (or they will burn). Lay over the slices of Comté, fold up the pastry edges and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is rich, golden brown. Serve immediately.
Linguini with broccoli in a Comté and thyme sauce
The Comté is used here to add a gentle flavour to the dish. Combined with crème fraîche and eggs it produces a creamy, rich sauce that goes beautifully with the broccoli.
250ml crème fraîche
350g Comté, finely grated (16-months aged Comté would be ideal as it has good flavour, but won’t overpower the dish)
400g broccoli florets
2 large free range egg yolks
Leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
400g fresh tagliatelle
Good quality extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle on at the end
1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and rest a large heatproof bowl over the top of the pan, so that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Boil a kettle of water (for later on).
2. Put the crème fraîche and 300g of the Comté in the bowl. Stir gently until the cheese is melted into the crème fraîche. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Cut off the hard ends of the broccoli, slice the stalks diagonally and leave the smaller florets whole, or cut any large ones in half.
4. Once the cheese mixture is combined, remove the bowl from the pan, turn the heat up high so the water is boiling hard and add a teaspoon of salt, as desired. Drop in the tagliatelle and broccoli – top up pan with boiling water to cover it fully. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes until the pasta is just cooked through.
5. Whisk the egg yolks and thyme leaves into the sauce, drain the pasta and broccoli (keeping a little of the cooking water) and toss them in the sauce. If the sauce is a bit too thick, you can loosen it with a little of the cooking water. Taste and season if necessary, then serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the remaining Comté sprinkled over the top.
Comté, banana and vanilla tarte tatin
The caramelised banana combines beautifully with melted 8 month aged Comté.
Plain flour, for dusting
200g all-butter puff pastry
3 x ripe (not black), medium bananas (approximately 300g peeled weight)
100g golden caster sugar
100ml brandy (or Marc du Jura for extra authenticity, if you can get hold of some!)
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways, seeds scraped out
25g unsalted butter
100g Comté, sliced very finely (a younger Comté would be best, e.g. 8 to 12 months)
- Preheat oven to 200˚C (180˚C fan).
- Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out your puff pastry until it’s just over 0.5cm thick (to fit an ovenproof frying pan, about 20 to 25cm in diameter, leaving a little extra around the edge). Put the pastry to one side.
- Peel bananas, then slice on the diagonal, about 2cm thick.
- Put the pan on a medium heat and add the sugar, brandy, vanilla seeds and pod. Let the sugar dissolve and cook until the mixture goes foamy and then forms a light caramel. Once the caramel looks and smells delicious (it should be a rich chestnut brown colour at this stage), add the butter, swirl until melted, then add the bananas. Carefully push the bananas down in the pan so they are surrounded by caramel and cook for about 5 minutes or until the bananas start to become caramelised.
- Remove from the heat, lay the slices of Comté over the bananas and then the pastry on top. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges – you can use a wooden spoon so you don’t touch the caramel.
- Bake the tarte tatin for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, with crispy caramel bubbling up from under the edges. Take it out of the oven and turn out onto a serving plate or board. Put it to one side for a few minutes, so the caramel can cool down, then divide it up and serve with a spoonful of crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream.
If you’re not drooling at the prospect, we hope you’re writing your shopping list. Enjoy creating and savouring these tasty dishes. And please share photos of your creations on our Facebook or Twitter pages so we can see how you got on.