Pear, Binham Blue and Walnut Tart

First, make the thick béchamel sauce. Put the milk, onion and cloves into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a low heat. Once the milk is hot, remove it from the heat, leave it to infuse for 5 minutes, then strain through a sieve and discard the flavourings.

While the milk is heating, melt the butter in a separate saucepan over a medium heat, then stir in the flour with a little salt and pepper. Stir until the flour combines with the butter to form a ‘roux’, then slowly add one third of the warm infused milk, whisking well. Add another third of the milk and whisk well until smooth, then add the last bit of milk and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 60g of the blue cheese, then transfer the sauce to a small container and leave to cool while you roll out the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 4–5mm thickness and cut out 6 discs, each about 12cm in diameter. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Divide the thick béchamel sauce evenly between the 6 pastry discs, spreading it over the pastry, but leaving a 1cm border around the edge.

Peel 3 of the pears, then cut them in half, remove the cores and then cut each half into 3 wedges. Place 3 pear wedges on top of each tart and scatter over half of the walnuts. Bake the tarts in the oven for 22–25 minutes or until well-risen and golden brown and the pastry is cooked and crisp.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let the tarts cool and rest for 10 minutes, then transfer them to serving plates. Cut the remaining pear (leave the skin on) into quarters, remove the core and then use a mandolin or sharp knife to finely shave the pear into thin slices. Dress the watercress in classic vinaigrette. Garnish each tart with the dressed watercress, shavings of pear and the remaining crumbled blue cheese, then sprinkle over the remaining walnuts and serve.

Serves 6 as a starter

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