The light is changing and the air smells like crisp leaves. Beyond baking pretty savory pear tarts and pulling out the sweaters, finding boots, and generally welcoming fall. I can feel the crackle in the air. And whoa, my book will be released in six weeks.
There’s been a flurry of activity. My excellent W. W. Norton publicist Lauren Opper has set up the most glorious, ambitious, slightly mad book tour. I will be in DC, Toronto, Richmond, New York, San Francisco and the Bay Area, Seattle, Baltimore, and Maine. It’s going to be a crazy time beginning October 24 and going right through to December 14th. I’ll be teaching classes, attending dinners, giving talks, doing signings, and even giving a talk at The Smithsonian. (I’m ridiculously excited especially about the Book and Fried Chicken Dinner at my friend Amy Murray’s restaurant, Revival Bar + Kitchen, in Berkeley, CA, on November 16.)
I hope to meet every one of you while I’m on the road. I’ll be starting up again in January with a trip to LA, another to Arizona, and a few more in the early spring that are close to being finalized. Plans are already in the works for a full summer schedule. I’ll keep everything up to date on my Events page, so check back often. Remember, many of the events are ticketed, so don’t delay!
Back to the tart. It’s pear season, which lasts about a minute and a half, so I am eating at least one pear a day. Okay. I’m eating two. I like them out of hand if they are juicy, but many pears are disappointing texturally. Those I grill, roast or sauté or intricately slice and place on tarts. They take to caramel or chocolate, but those Bartlett, Bosc or Seckle buddy up to cheese, too.
When I was in San Francisco a few days ago (what a dreamy city), I had an exceptional salad of creamy blue gorgonzola and smooth velvety slices of ripe pear on a tangle of arugula with a sharp sherry vinaigrette. It was perfectly balanced and I just couldn’t forget it. Last week, with that salad on my mind, a savory dessert tart was born. It was a proper ending to a dinner of grilled salmon, Indian-spiced potato cake and haricots verts.I made the tart in the late afternoon and served it at room temperature. The next morning, I warmed it a little in the toaster oven. So make it. It’s delicious.
Pear, Gorgonzola and Pecan Tart
I always have a couple of pie crusts in the freezer, ready to go, so this is especially easy to whip up. Here’s my recipe for pie crust, or make your favorite crust or get a pie crust at the store. Don’t let the fear of pie crust keep you from tasting this splendid tart before the pears are gone again.
Makes a 9″ freeform tart
1 pie dough (paté brisée)
1/4 cup mascarpone, creme fraiche or sour cream
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
A twist or two of the pepper grinder
3 perfectly firm-ripe pears of equal size and shape
2 tablespoons apricot jam, optional
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Roll the dough into a 10″ circle, fold over the outer edge, forming a crust, and then create a pretty edge with the edge of a knife, a fork, your knuckle or a spoon. I love this tutorial.
Stir together the mascarpone and gorgonzola. Stir in the pepper. Spread the cheese thickly across the tart. Use all of it.
Prepare the pears. Peel the pear whole, cut in half, scoop out the core and any stringy section that runs between the stem, core and bottom of the fruit. I use a melon baller to core then lift up to remove the strings. It’s much tidier and doesn’t tear up the fruit.
Place the cored pear halves cut side down and make knife cuts horizontally to form 1/4-inch slices. Keeping the pear half intact, place it, cored side down on the cheese. Continue placing the pears on the cheese base keeping the tops of the pears touching.
This is entirely optional, but makes for a very pretty shiny top. Heat the apricot jam, strain, then brush the jelly carefully over the pears.
Sprinkle the pecans over the fruit. Bake for 20 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is toasty brown and well cooked.
Drizzle the tart with the honey and splash a tiny bit of sherry vinegar on there, too. Serve.