This recipe uses my favourite chilli flakes - gochugaru, which are from Korea. I love their bright red colour and spicy flavour, and also the modest price.
I made this tart with fresh green and white asparagus, as well as frozen petits pois, but vegetables can be used according to what is in season: try mushrooms and/or summer squash sautéed in butter (drain the excess liquid before adding to the tart), or semi-dried cherry tomatoes with roasted winter squash.
If you don't have aged Comté and/or Parmesan cheeses, subsitute another type of hard, strong cheese. Use a fine rasp-style grater (such as a Microplane) to grate the cheeses.
I baked this tart in a rectangular pan with a removable base that measures 30cm by 21cm, and is quite deep, at 3cm. If you don’t have a pan this size, use one with a similar area, round or rectangular, but with the same depth.
Finely grate the cheeses, preferably using a rasp-type grater.
Put the flour, sugar, pepper and gochugaru in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the cold butter into 1cm (7/16 in) chunks, add to the food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the Comté and Parmesan cheeses and pulse briefly, then transfer the ingredients to a large bowl. (If you don't have a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, pepper and chilli flakes in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1cm (7/16 in) chunks and add to the bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into pieces the size of small peas, then mix in the two cheeses before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.) Drizzle the iced water into the bowl. Mix with your fingertips to form a cohesive dough that is neither sticky nor dry. Knead briefly, then shape the dough into a disc, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for two hours.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it's about 3mm (⅛ in) thick and larger than the dimensions of the pan. Gently fit the dough into the contours of the pan, taking care not to stretch it. Double over the dough at the edges and press firmly. Trim the excess dough from the rim. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Use a fork to poke holes in the base of the tart crust at 1cm (7/16 in) intervals. Blind-bake the crust: lay a sheet of aluminium foil over the pastry, pressing it into the contours. Pour uncooked beans or rice onto the foil (to weigh down the crust so it doesn’t puff up) and place in the oven.
Bake at 200°C (390°F) for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C (350°F) and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are firm. Carefully lift out the aluminium foil and beans or rice, and bake the crust for 10 more minutes, or until the base is matte but not fully cooked. Take the tart shell out of the oven and cool to room temperature. Leave the oven on at 180° degrees.
While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling. Put the garlic cloves in a saucepan, add the cream, salt and gochugaru, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pan with a lid and cook at a low simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the garlic is very soft. Use a fork to lift the garlic cloves out of the liquid, then mash them to a smooth puree.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then stir in the mashed garlic, the cream mixture and the milk. Transfer to a large liquid measuring cup (or a jug with a spout) for easier pouring.
Use a vegetable peeler to finely pare the tough fibres from the asparagus spears. Trim the spears so they fit into the tart.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the asparagus spears for 30 seconds (for very fat spears) or less (for skinnier spears), then remove them from the pot. If using frozen petits pois, add them to the boiling water, stir once, then drain immediately. Use a clean, dry cloth to blot excess water from the asparagus and peas.
Arrange the asparagus in the cooled pastry crust, alternating the white and green spears. Scatter the petits pois on top.
Place the tart on the lowest shelf of the oven. Carefully pour the garlic cream over the vegetables, filling the crust to the brim. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 30 minutes, or until set: the filling will be a little wobbly at the centre, and will puff slightly. Place the baked tart on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.