Fennel and Pear Tart by Head Chef at the K Club

Fennel and pear tart with piccalilli, fennel foam and pear tuile

This vegetarian dish is beautiful to look at and even better to taste. The homemade piccalilli for me is the star – with its fresh, tangy flavour, it adds great zip to the dish. I love the buttery pastry against the earthy pear and fennel. When you pair a fruit and vegetable together, the natural sugars in the fruit really work to enhance the flavour of the vegetable.

MAKES 6

FOR THE POACHED VICTORIAN GARDEN PEARS

500ml (17½fl oz) water

50gm (2oz) caster sugar

4 whole pears, peeled and cored

 

FOR THE PICCALILLI

brine, made by dissolving 85gm (3oz) salt in 250ml (9fl oz) water

110gm (4oz) baby onions, peeled and halved

110gm (4oz) small cauliflower florets

3gm (xx tsp) ground ginger

3gm (xx tsp) ground turmeric

3gm (xx tsp) mustard seeds

5gm (¼oz) Pommery mustard

190ml (7fl oz) cider vinegar

45gm (1½oz) demerara sugar

½ garlic clove, chopped

110gm (4oz) red pepper, deseeded

110gm (4oz) gherkins, chopped

3–5gm (¼oz) arrowroot, dissolved in a little water

6 baby turnips, peeled and halved and cooked al dente, to garnish

2 baby leeks, blanched, to garnish

12 edible nasturtium flowers, to garnish

 

FOR THE FENNEL JUICE FOAM

300ml (10½fl oz) fennel bulb, juiced

3gm (¼oz) xanthan gum

 

FOR THE BRAISED FENNEL BULB

1 fennel bulb

150ml (5fl oz) fish stock

½ tsp fennel seeds

1 sprig of fresh thyme

½ bay leaf

 

FOR THE FENNEL BULB PURÉE

1 fennel bulb, finely chopped

400ml (14fl oz) Avonmore cream

50gm (2oz) fresh dill

salt and milled white pepper

 

FOR THE PEAR TUILE DISCS

200ml (7fl oz) sugar syrup (see page xxx)

1 pear

 

FOR THE TARTS

300gm (10½oz) puff pastry (see recipe page xxx)

poached pears, from above

braised fennel bulb, from above

egg wash

 

POACHED VICTORIAN GARDEN PEARS

Place the water and the caster sugar in a pot over a low heat and gently warm to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears, so that they are covered with the syrup. Let the liquid lightly simmer to poach the pears until just soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Cut each pear in three lengthways, then cut each wedge into 6 slices.

 

PICCALILLI

Place the onions and cauliflower in the salt water brine and leave for 1 hour. Remove from the water and pat dry. Place the ground ginger, ground turmeric and mustard seeds in a pot and heat gently to release their flavour. Remove from the heat and add the Pommery mustard, garlic, cider vinegar and demerara sugar to the dry mix. Add the cauliflower, baby onions, red peppers and gherkins to the pickle and cook until very slightly softened. Thicken the mixture with the dissolved arrowroot and allow to cool.

 

FENNEL JUICE FOAM

Boil the fennel juice in a pot. Add the xanthan gum and pass through a fine sieve. Pour into a siphon bottle, charge with two ISI gas chargers, shake vigorously and set aside in the fridge for service.

 

BRAISED FENNEL BULB

Cut the fennel bulb into 6 pieces. Place in a vacuum-pack bag with the remaining ingredients. Seal and cook in a steamer for 30 minutes.

 

FOR THE FENNEL BULB PURÉE

Place the fennel in a pot and cover with the cream. Season with a little salt and milled white pepper. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer until the fennel bulb is soft. Blitz the mixture with the fresh dill in a HotmixPRO blender or similar until smooth. Season to taste.

 

FOR THE PEAR TUILE DISCS

Preheat the oven to 95°C. Finely slice the pear on a slicer or mandolin. Cut out 4cm (1½in) discs of pear from the slices and place them in the sugar syrup. Line a baking tray with a Silpat or similar non-stick mat and lay the pear discs out flat. Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove the discs from the tray and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

TO ASSEMBLE THE TARTS

Roll out the puff pastry to form a 3mm-thick sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the pastry to rest. Cut out twelve 10cm (4in) discs using a plain pastry cutter. Take 6 of the discs and, using an 8cm cutter, remove the centre of each of them (retaining the outer rim). Egg-wash the edge of the six 10cm bases and lay the outer 10cm rims on top. Inside the rim, place the poached pear slices on one half and the braised fennel on the other. Finish by egg-washing the rim. Place the 6 tarts on a Silpat or similar non-stick mat and refrigerate for a minimum of 20 minutes to rest before cooking. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Place the tarts in the oven for 18 minutes.

 

TO SERVE

Lay a row of piccalilli neatly on one side of the plate and add the turnip and baby leeks to garnish. Place the pear tuile discs on top and finish with nasturtium flowers. Make a neat circle of the hot fennel purée on the plate and place the tart on top. Place 3 dots of the fennel juice foam on the piccalilli and serve.