Membrillo and Manchego Tart

Membrillo and Manchego tart

Membrillo and Manchego tart

David described A Time For Burning as probably the quietest civil rights film we’ve seen. And indeed, the whole film shows people talking; quietly, earnestly, discussing issues. And yet it’s an amazingly compelling 56 minutes of film. The film, by Bill Jersey, was shot in Omaha, Nebraska in 1966, and as one of the characters explains, it’s about Lutherans talking to Lutherans. Seemingly such a small thing, a tiny step. But it turns out to be an insurmountable step to many. The film “explores the attempts of the minister of Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, to persuade his all-white congregation to reach out to ‘negro’ Lutherans in the city’s north side.” The pastor, Rev. L. William Youngdahl, is kind and thoughtful and well-meaning, and he loses his job over this issue. In the course of the film he encounters the remarkable Ernie Chambers, a barber who goes on to law school and then to become the longest-serving senator in the history of Nebraska. The conversations between Youngdahl and Chambers are bracing and passionate and necessary and uncomfortable. The conversations amongst the white parishioners are heartbreaking of the I-can’t-believe-anybody-ever-spoke-unashamedly-in-that-way-and-so-little-has-changed variety. The conversations amongst black teenagers (whose visit to the white church one Sunday caused the congregation to shrink) are lovely and hopeful and sharp. But the character I found the most moving–I don’t even know his name. He had glasses with thick lenses and thick frames, in a uniquely 1960s style. At first, listening to the reverend propose his plan, this man seemed myopic, doubtful and unsure. It would be easier, after all, to ignore the situation altogether. But over the course of the film we watch him change, incredibly change. He starts to question what it means to be human, what it means to be the person he is, in the time and place that he lives. He thinks about kindness, justice, history, his faith, his family, the future of mankind. He says he’s like a newborn, two weeks old, and the world is changing all around him. He thinks about the history of his country and the history of oppression. He recognizes how simple, how monumental this one small step would be, and he’s desperate to take it. He’s conscious of the way the country is changing all around him, in that moment, and he wants to be part of it. The saddest thing, watching nearly fifty years later, is how little has changed. This is a painfully relevant film, and everyone should watch it.

I wasn’t going to go on so long about it, because the characters speak for themselves, and there’s a documentary about the documentary that discusses it all much more intelligently than I could ever do.

So! Someone gave me a little carton of Membrillo, which I love. And I bought a little bit of manchego, and I thought I’d turn them into a tart, because they just have to be together. It’s a super-simple tart, flavor-wise, and not hard to make.

Here’s Chambers Brothers and Barbrara Dane, from 1966, the year A Time For Burning was filmed, with You’ve Got to Reap What You Sow.


1 stick butter frozen (unsalted)

1 t salt

1 1/2 cups flour

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Grate in the butter. Mix with a fork till coarse and crumbly. Add enough ice water to make a stiff dough. Knead briefly (about a minute) to be sure all the butter is incorporated. Form into a disc, wrap in foil and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour, or until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat the oven to 425 and butter a large tart pan. On a floured surface, roll the dough to be about `1/8th inch thick. Press into the tart pan, and trim the extra. You can chill it again once it’s in the pan as you prepare the filling. Prebake in preheating oven for about five minutes, till it just loses its shine.


About 1/2 cup membrillo paste

3 eggs

1/2 cup  milk

1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated manchego cheese, with more for the top

1 t rosemary

salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Spread the membrillo paste on the pre-baked crust. If it’s too thick to spread easily, cut it into small pieces and scatter it over the crust.

In a food processor or blender combine the cheeses, milk, eggs and rosemary. Blend/process until fairly smooth and pour over the  membrillo. Spread a little grated cheese over the top. Bake for fifteen or twenty minutes until puffed and golden. Let cool slightly, slice and serve.


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