Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

Helene Dujardin

Cool Weather Cooking Perfect for Pears and Tarts

Makes two tarts, serves 8 to 12

Now that the crisp, cool air of fall and winter is finally upon the Lowcountry, appetites build for satisfying, belly-warming fare. I lit my first official fireplace blaze of the season last night, pondering the crackle and snap of the aged wood, experiencing its final act after a long year’s nap in the wood pile. It set my mind to dreaming about this fabulous tart, which is a wonderful celebration of fall and is perfect for entertaining both for its simplicity and rustic elegance.

It is a free-form savory/sweet tart (a.k.a. galette) and is drenched in the pungent flavors of the Mediterranean. Local honey and fresh lemon juice provide the “sauce” that gently envelops soft Bartlett pears and toothsome walnuts. Bresaoloa – air-dried, salted beef that hails from Italy – gives it beefy depth and chew. It all gets topped off with mild Roquefort cheese and a generous dusting of freshly ground black pepper.

Adapted from Tart Love – Sassy, Savory, and Sweet (Gibbs Smith, October 2011), this tart has no tricks and is definitely a treat. Happy Halloween and happy cooking!

Beefy Pear, Roquefort and Walnut Free-Form Tarts

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Equipment Needed: parchment paper, baking sheet

For the pastry:

2 1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt

2 sticks (1 cup) AA grade unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

3 tablespoons ice-cold water, or just enough to hold the pastry together

For the filling:

3 ripe but still firm Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

6 slices bresaola (available at most deli counters), coarsely chopped

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3/4 cup local honey

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Pinch salt

Generous dash cinnamon

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg wash (yolk, pinch salt, splash water blended together

For the topping:

1/2 cup Roquefort or another mild blue cheese, crumbled

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic blade, pulse together the flour and the salt until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse, 40 – 50 times, or until the butter is the size of small peas and evenly incorporated throughout the flour. Add the thyme and pulse 5 – 10 times to combine. Gradually, stream in the ice-cold water until the flour just comes together in a slightly messy, crumbly ball. Turn the mixture out onto your work surface and quickly form into a 2-inch thick, round disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight) before rolling out.

In a large bowl, gently toss together all of the filling ingredients, being careful to coat all the fruit and filling completely. Chill for 20 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface in two 10 -12-inch rounds. Using your rolling pin, ease each pastry round onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Plop the filling into the center of the pastry circle and spread evenly into a circle, until the filling is about 1 inch thick. Trim borders of the pastry circles with kitchen scissors so you have about 2 inches of free pastry space all around the filling. (Note: It does not have to be perfectly symmetrical. You are shooting for a rustic, country look). Use your palm to cup the pastry around the filling, folding in creases about every two inches as you move around the filling. Press gently with the palm of your hand to make sure everything is sealed.  Brush the pastry top and sides lightly with the egg wash. Sprinkle the open part of the filling with the cheese and pepper. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Serve warm or at room temperature as an appetizer, main course, or dessert.


Tart Love Featured in the Post and Courier

Post and Courier Features “Tart Love”

The Post and Courier’s talented Teresa Taylor wrote a feature “For the Love of Tarts” about my new cookbook, “Tart Love.” Grace Beahm photographed me with a tart in my kitchen to illustrate the article. In the article, Teresa spotlights a few recipes from “Tart Love” and tells the story of my journey towards a love of tarts.

You may read the story directly from The Post and Courier or you may download and read the story as a PDF.


Talking Tarts on Charlotte Talks


Listen to Tarts and Pastries

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of talking tarts and Tart Love with Mike Collins and his team at Charlotte Talks, WFAE 90.7 FM in Charlotte, NC.

On the menu, all things delicious! We cover tart fillings, perfecting pastry, savory, sweet, and even sample some tarts brought in from a talentedJohnson & Wales pastry chef.

Feel free to hear the show anew by clicking on the link to the podcast listed above or download it on iTunes. To find out more about Charlotte Talks, visit

This Butterscotch Pudding & Apple Tart is one of the tarts discussed. Photo by Helene Dujardin.






Fuss-Free Eggplant Tapenade Tartlets for Labor Day

One of my favorite long weekends of the year, Labor Day is all about relaxing with family and friends, watching football and tennis, and preparing and eating delicious food. While barbecue, hot dogs and beer are popular Labor Day fare, I love the idea of dressing up the holiday table with these elegant eggplant tartlets, made with eggplant that is in peak season this time of year.  The filling can be prepped a day ahead (that would be today!) and assembled and baked off in just minutes. So delightful, I think I’ll be whipping up a batch tomorrow, in my white slacks, of course! Happy Labor Day!

Excerpted from Tart Love – Sassy, Savory and Sweet by Holly Herrick (Gibbs Smith, Oct. 1, 2011)…………………………………………

“Summer/Fall  Mellow eggplant sits atop a bed of cream cheese blended with sweet basil and salty olives for these sophisticated tartlets. Pair with a chilled Rose for an indulgent late-summer aperitif for easy entertaining.”

Eggplant and Cream Cheese Tapenade Tartlets

(Makes 12 Tartlets)

Equipment Needed: One 3 1/2-inch round pastry cutter, parchment paper

2 sheets Pepperidge Farms puff pastry

1 small eggplant, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4″-thick slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 

For the cream cheese filling:

Photo by Helene Dujardin

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

Zest of 1 lemon

1 large clove garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped

1/4 cup finely pitted green olives

Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 egg wash (yolk, pinch salt, splash water blended together)

Fresh basil sprigs for garnish.

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions, about 40 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange eggplant on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Bake about 15 minutes, until softened and slightly shrunken. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, but leave the oven on. When the eggplant is cool, chop it with a chef’s knife into pieces about the size of peas.

Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling by combining all the ingredients, except the basil garnish, in a small bowl, stirring well with a wooden spoon to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

To assemble the tartlets, arrange the thawed pastry sheets on a lightly floured work surface.  Gently press out any rough seams with your fingertips to smooth. Cut the pastry with the round cutter to form rounds; avoid wasting pastry. You should get 12 rounds from the pastry. Arrange each on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart to allow space for them to “puff.” Gently coat the top (not the sides) of the pastry with egg was. Fill each tartlet with one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture, spreading with a spoon. Leave 1/4 inch border of naked pastry, which will become the sides of the tartlets as the pastry rises. Top cream cheese with 1 heaping tablespoon of eggplant. Bake for 25 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove and let cool slightly. Serve warm on a platter or on individual cocktail plates sprinkled with fresh basil.

Enjoy this last official taste of summer and be safe out there!

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