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Elegant Brunch Try Something Different For The Holidays: Blue Cheese And Roasted Red Pepper Tart

Blue cheese and roasted red pepper tart is an elegant main dish for a holiday brunch.

The tart is made with jarred roasted bell peppers and blue cheese, arranged in a pre-baked pie shell and sprinkled with rosemary and lemon peel. Bake 10 minutes, and the tart is ready to serve with fresh fruit.

To serve, tabletop designer Nancy Wall Hopkins suggests using a large pedestal cake plate for the wedges of tart. Set a smaller-footed compote in the center of the larger plate to hold the fruit. This works great for a buffet service, especially when space is limited.

Blue Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Tart

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons cold water

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled or sliced

3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or baked ham, cut into thin strips, if desired

1-1/4 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired

For crust, place flour, salt and baking powder in food processor fitted with metal blade. Add butter; process, pulsing machine on and off, for several seconds, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add egg yolk and water; process just until dough forms a ball, several seconds more. (Do not overprocess.) Flatten dough into a disc. Place in 9-inch pie plate lined with aluminum foil or 9-inch fluted tart pan. For pie plate, gently press dough evenly into bottom and three-quarters of the way up sides. For tart pan, gently press dough evenly into bottom and up sides.

Prick bottom with fork. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover and bake tart shell 20 minutes or until crust is light golden brown; cool.

For filling, cut red peppers into 1-inch pieces. Alternately arrange red peppers and blue cheese on bottom of tart shell. Top with prosciutto, if using; sprinkle with rosemary and lemon zest. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cool 10 minutes on wire rack. Remove from pan onto serving plate. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 servings.

Note: To prepare dough by hand, in medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and water, mixing with fork just until dough holds together. Shape into a ball and knead a few seconds. Flatten dough into a disc and proceed as recipe directs.

Variation: To make mini-tarts, prepare dough and shape into 24 balls. Press into bottom and up sides of 1-3/4-inch diameter mini-muffin pans. Prick bottoms with fork; refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven about 15 minutes or just until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cool slightly; remove from pans. Makes 24 minitarts.

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