This post is a glimpse inside my experience in being in the blogging industry, what goes on outside the frame of my photos, and my recipe for a Honeyed Pear and Blue Cheese Tart. Over the years as I have worked with different people, I’ve heard that I have an interesting way of cooking. I think the best way that it was phrased was when I was told that my cooking process looks like my actual photos, with crumbs and bits of things everywhere. It was an incredibly nice way of saying that I leave a tornado of food stuff behind me whenever I cook, which is the reality of it. I’m definitely *not* a clean-as-you-go person. Once I am done making and shooting a recipe there is a lot of clean-up involved that doesn’t make it into the photos, so this time around I wanted to give you guys a little peek at what it really looks like outside of the perfectly framed picture. Yes, you will now see my long kitchen counters in all their glory, and by glory I mean that every square inch of them is filled with crap.
Honeyed Pear and Blue Cheese Tart
Blue Cheese and Pear Filling
- 5 ounces stilton (at room temperature)
- 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3 firm medium pears (peeled and thinly sliced using a mandolin)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 small ripe pears (peeled and cut vertically in half)
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon flake sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) frozen unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 4-6 tablespoons ice water
For the ginger crust, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter over the bowl, pausing to mix in the butter shards every 20 seconds so they don't just form a large butter clump on the top of the bowl.
Add the cream and then the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring the dough with a wooden spoon and then working it slightly with your hands to incorporate all the flour. If it doesn't come together, add another tablespoon of cold water and mix, repeat if necessary until a solid dough forms.
Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick, making a circular shape that is at least 11 inches in diameter. Press it into a 9-inch tart pan and trim off the excess. Prick it all over with a fork and then cover with a greased sheet of tin foil, pressing it into the tart and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the tart crust in the oven (still with the foil on it) and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and remove the foil from the top, allowing it to cool slightly.
For the pear and blue cheese filling, beat the blue cheese and cream together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until smooth and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure a consistent texture. Set aside.
For the honey syrup, bring the honey, water, and vanilla bean paste to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for 5 minutes before removing it from the stovetop. Set aside.
Spread the blue cheese mixture onto the bottom of the tart so that it covers it completely. Arrange the pear slices on top of it in a fan on each side of the tart, lightly brushing each one with the honey syrup. Place the tart in the oven and bake until the blue cheese turns deeply golden brown and the crust is lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
While the tart is baking, you can prepare the poached pears. Bring the water, white wine, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the pear halves and cook, stirring gently every few minutes, until the pears are tender when pricked with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the pot using a slotted spoon and set them on a wire rack to dry for 10 minutes.
Arrange the poached pears in a line down the center of the tart and serve immediately.
It’s funny, I feel like in the blogging industry there is this standard to make your life look perfect all the time, and know I am not immune to that pressure. But the reality of it is so different; just outside of the tabletop where everything is perfectly placed I have an incredibly unattractive styrofoam board reflecting light back into the photo (you can get them for super cheap in the insulation area of Lowe’s and just peel off the foil on one side for an awesomely huge and lightweight reflector. Highly recommend it!), plastic tubs stacked full of plates for another shoot I just wrapped, and a floor covered in crumbs, soon to be ‘vacuumed’ by my pups. The counter is full of pear peels, discarded cores, and piles of pretty much every ingredient that went into the tart. Life is messy, and that’s okay. Fear no mess; it just means you’re a normal, functioning human being. At the end of the day, I take an hour (or two depending on how insane things got in the kitchen) to clean it all up. I get some suds going with method dish soap, which I love because it’s biodegradable, contains ingredients that won’t harm the environment when they’re washed down the drain into the ground water, gives you the option of buying refill pouches so you don’t need to buy and discard another plastic bottle when you run out of soap, and it comes with a big pump on top of it so you don’t have to try and pick up the dish soap bottle with slippery greasy hands to try to get the soap out and inevitably drop it back into the sink of dirty dishes, which is always a *whomp whomp* moment.
I’m also pretty obsessed with cleaner-scents because I have a sensitive nose, and these are really pleasant and gentle without being overpowering. My favorites are Honeycrisp Apple and Ginger Pear, which is actually what inspired me to make this Honeyed Pear and Blue Cheese Tart. So, the tart! I combined some of my favorite flavor combinations for this one, namely pears, honey, ginger, and blue cheese. I incorporated the pears two ways, first by thinly slicing them on a mandolin and baking them into the tart, and then by poaching pear halves in white wine, honey, and vanilla paste and then placing them on top of the finished tart. For the blue cheese filling, I whipped up some blue cheese with heavy cream in a stand mixer until it was light, fluffy, and very spreadable. This mixture got spread on the par-baked ginger crust I made and was then topped with the thinly sliced pears, which I brushed with a little honey syrup before baking. This thing is pretty decadent, and toes the line between a savory and sweet tart very, very well. If I had to commit to one, though, I’d say this is a bit more savory than sweet, but it does make for a stellar dessert, too, especially if you’re into salty sweets. Let me know what you think of the Honeyed Pear and Blue Cheese Tart. I hope you all enjoy it, and feel free to share your messy tendencies! I like to know I’m not alone in my tornado-like way of life. And thanks to method for sponsoring this post and helping me do what I love for a living 🙂
Honeyed Pear and Blue Cheese Tart