Thursday, October 04, 2007

It's Your Call: A Blue Cheese and Pear Tart

I really wanted to save this post for Christmas, as it'd be perfect for the festive season, but wasn't able to. You see, some of you saw the photos in my Flickr stream, and started asking for it, persistently. Being a kind person as I am, I decided that it'd be unfair to let you wait for another 3 months before sharing the recipe..

Few years ago an Estonian cookery programme Kaunimaks köögis (channel TV3) featured a recipe for a pear and blue cheese tart. I hadn't seen the programme, but a friend of mine did, liked what see saw, tried the tart at home and sent me the recipe. I waited a few years until I had some lovely pears, excellent blue cheese, and some good puff pastry in hand. After couple of inevitable adaptations (puff pastry for shortcrust one, 'slashed' pears* for cubed ones, almonds for hazelnuts etc) I came up with this version and made this early last month. And, oh my, it was absolutely delicious, and versatile. It's a wonderful mixture of subtle sweet and savoury flavours that would be just as perfect as a starter before a fancy main course, or as a dessert after one. It would be an excellent accompaniment to a glass or two of white wine (forget about cheese & grapes!), or a cup of coffee or tea. It's your call where and when to serve it. Just excellent. And furthermore - due to the mix of spices in the filling, it would be perfect, absolutely perfect, for the forthcoming Christmas season. I will be definitely making it again.

I used the very excellent Finnish blue cheese - Valio Aura Gold - that has been ripened for 12 weeks. It's strong, but rounded and yet mellow. If that's not available to you, then try some mellow blue cheese instead. Think Gorgonzola or Danish Blue rather than Stilton or Roquefort here..

Blue Cheese and Pear Tart
Serves 6-8

250 grams puff (Danish) pastry
4 large pears, peeled, halved and cored
50 grams slices almonds
100 grams Aura Gold blue cheese, cut into small chunks
300 ml single cream
2 free-range eggs**
1 tsp of gingerbread seasoning***

Roll out the puff pastry into a circle and line a 22-25 cm pie dish with it. Cover with a parchment paper and ceramic baking beans, and blind-bake at 200C for 15 minutes.
Cut the pear halves cross-wise almost through, place nicely on a pre-baked crust.
Place cheese chunks between the pear slices. Tuck almond slices between the pear slices.
Whisk the cream, eggs and spices together, pour over the pears and cheese.
Bake at 180-200C for another 25 minutes, until the egg mixture has set and the pears are cooked.
Cool before serving.

Tuck in and enjoy!!!

* I first saw slashed/sliced pears in a tart on the display shelf of Cafe Peterson here in Tallinn, and thought that'd be much nicer than cubing the pears.
** The eggs are from these happy chicken, which explains the bright yellow colour of the filling.
*** Estonian gingerbread seasoning contains cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. Feel free to use mixed spice (coriander, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger) or pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg) instead. Or, if you prefer, just take a pinch of this and a pinch of that :)

This recipe was also included in my second cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.


Peabody said...

Gingerbread sesaoning. Never heard of it but now I will be on the lookout for it.
Your tart looks wonderful.

lobstersquad said...

this is going straight into the recipe file. genius, pure genius.

K and S said...

This sounds really delicious, I love blue cheese and pears!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

That's a lovely pear tart! Pears and blue cheese work well together in almost any recipe, don't they?

Alanna Kellogg said...

Hasselback pears? in a tart?? with blue cheese??? Excuse me, please, I'm fainting dead away at the glory of this concept. Gorgeous, Pille ...

Anonymous said...

Pille, that sounds delicious, and the presentation is really gorgeous. I can't wait to make it myself.

Anonymous said...

This is too too incredible...a crossover tart! Savory, sweet, dessert, appetizer, snack...sensational! :) And it looks fantastic!

Shaun said...

Pille - This is a beautiful looking tart. I typically only enjoy blue cheese when it is cooked, so this will go into my file. Sadly, though, it will soon be Summer in New Zealand, and I think blue cheese really does pair better with pears than it does Summer fruit. Oh well, with this recipe I can look forward to Autumn...

Gloria Baker said...

I love pears and cheese!!!! so this recipe looks wonderful. Thanks. Gloria

Anonymous said...

Glad you posted this NOW instead of at Christmas time. Too long to wait. ;-)))



Dagmar said...

It looks beautiful Pille! I'm bookmarking this! :-)

Sylvia said...

Blue cheese and pears,for me, is the perfect combination.And you right this is a perfect dish for Christmas,I´am saving for later.

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures and nice posting indeed but I dare to differ from the rest in that too much originality does not necessarily bring out the best of every dish. I find that blue cheese everywhere as lately I encounter in every other restaurant in town (Tallinn) is tiring, to say the least. I can´t ignore the moldy texture, flavor and smell of that cheese which combined with bread is not bad but when applied to fruit and then cooked resembles decay.
How do you prepare red meat? any ideas that would not include dairy?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Pille, this is a stunning dish and presentation. Truly. No wonder you couldn't wait until Christmas! (Don't worry though, the department stores are already decorated with x-mas trees here, so it fits right in.) ;)

Pille said...

Peabody - no need to look for gingerbread seasoning, pumpkin pie spice or mixed spice would work just as well!

Lobstersquad - gracias! Let me know when you try it, ok?

K&S - I love this combination now, too:)

Lydia - apparently they do work together. I had no idea until now:)

Alanna - one can trust you to pick up any Nordic references!!! What a smart cookie you are!

Abra - thank you, thank you!

Joey - it was a real crossover tart indeed - that's why I've filed it both under 'Recipes: Cakes/Muffins/Cookies' and 'Recipes: Pizzas/Pies/Quiches' :)

Shaun - I think it'd be worth the wait. (And I'm still struggling with the idea that it's Spring down under!)

Gloria - thanks!

Paz - if it hadn't been for the demanding Flickr fans, I would have waited until Christmas:)

Dagmar - tack!

Sylvia - yes, the use of Christmassy spices make it exceptionally suitable for the forthcoming festive season.

Anon. - well, the blue cheese in this tart definitely didn't look like decay to me after baking, so I agree to disagree with you:) Re: cooking red meat - check out my recipes for red meat. There's plenty non-dairy dishes to choose from, like osso buco, Estonian beef rolls, boeuf bourgoingnon ,Tatar azu, to name just a few.

Susan - that's what I always witnessed in Scotland - come October, and the shops all donned red decorations and began playing Christmas tunes! Luckily (and I'm touching wood here now) I haven't witnessed that in Estonia yet!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This is just too good to be true! As if the combo of pears and blue cheese isn't enough the presentation on this is spectacular! I'm with Alanna fainted!!

Jeanne said...

What a classic combination - and a wonderfully original presentation! Glad you didn't make us wait till Christmas for this one. At least there are still pears in the shops here so I have a chance of making it ;-)

Pille said...

Tanna - I'm blushing!

Jeanne - I'm pretty pleased with the presentation myself :)