October 26, 2009

Pear & Gorgonzola Crostata

I have to be honest, this pear crostata is really the last thing on my mind. I am currently living in a complete state of disarray, with all of my belongings thrown askew, boxes stacked up to my ears, and paint fumes clouding my brain. Don't you just love the joys of moving? I actually had plans to make many more recipes  than I did before my time here in New York expired, but sometimes you have to set your priorities, and in this case, it would be preparing for a 1,500 mile move half way across the country. And even though I may not be thinking about the crostata as a whole, I have thought often about it's crust. During the course of this week's moving preparations, when I have often felt stressed or overwhelmed, I've let my mind wander to this happy place of butter and flaky goodness. 

The downsides of living in a New York apartment are pretty obvious; they are small and stupidly overpriced. Another disadvantage would be the poor air circulation due to the lack of central air conditioning (the fact of which still astounds me being from Texas and all- central air conditioning is vital to survival there). Simply heating the oven turns my apartment into my own personal sauna. So with my oven set to 450 degrees, I was fairly certain that my attempt to turn out a flaky pastry crust was doomed from the get go. However, I managed to somehow create one of the flakiest crusts I've had the pleasure of wrapping my lips around. I can't take all the credit of course- this isn't my recipe- but still, I was happy to pat myself on the back. 

The crust was really, to my dismay, the only truly memorable part of this particular recipe however. I have often heard that pears and blue cheese are a natural flavor pairing, but the gorgonzola was a little too overpowering in this recipe for my liking. If you are a big fan of blue cheese, however, then this recipe is certainly for you! If I were to make this again, I would definitely decrease the amount of cheese, perhaps halve it even. Or maybe I would replace the gorgonzola all together, with say, some currents? Now, Im sure this is really my job to take the initiative to perfect a recipe such as this one, but there are too many other dishes I am desperate to try! 

Pear Crostata with Honey, Gorgonzola, and Almonds 
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

4 pears, halved, cored, but not peeled
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey
4 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 recipe Basic Pie Pastry, chilled 30 minutes (recipe below)
1 egg, beaten with a drizzle of cold water
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Arrange the pears, cut sides up, on a baking sheet and dot with butter. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pears are just tender. Let cool.

3. Increase the oven heat to 450 degrees F.

4. Sprinkle the counter and a rolling pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out to a 14-inch round, about 1/4-inch thick. It doesn't have to be perfect. Transfer the dough to the back of a lightly floured baking sheet. Slice the pears and arrange them on the dough round by overlapping the slices in a spiral fashion, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Drizzle with the honey, scatter blue cheese over the top, and sprinkle with the almonds.

5. Brush the border with the egg wash. Bring the edge of crust over onto the filling, leaving the fruit exposed in center. Gently fold and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is tender. Slide a knife under the crostata to loosen it from the pan. Then cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Basic Pie Pastry: 


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, zested and finely grated
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

2. Add the egg yolk and ice water and work that in with your hands. (Or do the whole thing in a food processor, pulsing a couple of times to combine the dry ingredients, then pulsing in the butter, and then the egg.) Check the consistency of the dough by squeezing a small amount together between thumb and forefingers: You want there to be just enough moisture to bind the dough so that it holds together without being too wet or sticky. If it's still crumbly, add a little more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

3. When you get it to the right consistency, shape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Put it in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Serves 6-8

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