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Oh, Labor Day. You saucy little minx, you. I’ve spent the entire summer bitching and moaning about the heat and now, as I realize its coming to a close, I’m panicking because Labor Day’s arrival means that summer is about to end. Cue the Crazy.
This Labor Day, I’m off for the entire weekend. Off for my actual day job, that is- I’m not off anywhere interesting, like the beach or Northern Michigan. Since after our Big Trip to Europe a few weeks ago, we’re still playing catch up with our checking account and are therefore just kicking it in the Shoebox for the holiday weekend. The Big Man is working a regular schedule, but I’m not in work for five days so I have nothing ahead of me but long stretches of cooking, True Blood catch-up and drinking wine. That, and nerding out with this blog, but after I mentioned my fondness for Dorky Research in my last post, a friend who read it called me up and mocked me for being a total geek so I’m not going to say anything more about SEO’s and hyperlinks. So there you go. I’m spending the weekend doing nothing except being cool. Obviously.
Anyway, I spent Friday languorously drifting around my neighborhood, buying cheese at Beecher’s and cookie cutters at Whisk, a taco from the truck outside the Greenmarket that I ate verrrry slowwwlly while people watching in the park (which is the best thing ever) Later, walking home through the market I noticed that nearly every farm stall was selling huge bushels of pears. By the time I passed my fourth stall full of fresh green pears I decided the Universe was speaking to me, bought way too many and have spent the last thirty six hours eating my way through them. Let’s just say I like to throw myself into my work.
Lately, I’ve been playing around with the idea of making salad dishes into baked goods. Weird, right? I know. But seriously- I’ve been thinking like, how can I make a Tuna Niciose Salad into something baked? Is that possible? Or can I somehow bake a Waldorf Salad? Obviously the lettuce and greens parts would be forgone, but the heart, the idea of the salad would remain, preferably wrapped in pastry. Since, you know, most things are better in pastry. This is how my mind works. It’s a weird place.
To be honest, I’m not actually a huge fan of pears. I like them two ways- baked into soft gushiness and used as a topping for ice cream or pie, and in a Pear/Blue Cheese/Walnut Salad I’ve been bringing out at Thanksgiving the last couple of years. You know that this means, right? The whole, Salad-Pastry-Crazygirl Idea, the stall after stall of pears in the market… it only meant one thing.
Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Crostata.
Done. Thanks for that one, Universe.
Pear, Walnut and Blue Cheese Crostata Recipe
For the dough
- One Pie Crust (see note)
For the Filling
- 4 medium to large pears (I used 2 Bosc and 2 Bartlett), sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- Prepare the dough for the crust. It needs to sit at least one hour in the refrigerator before use.
- In a medium to large sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Add the pears and the sugar and cook till very soft, about ten to fifteen minutes. Preheat the oven to 400*F. Add the salt and walnuts, stir to combine well and cook a further five minutes.
- Lightly flour the base of a baking sheet. Also lightly flour the counter where you will be rolling out the dough.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and, working quickly so it doesn’t get too warm, roll it out in as much of a circle shape as possible. If it’s starting to get sticky against the rolling pin, flour the pin as much as you can before going back to the dough. Once it’s rolled out and well floured, transfer the dough round to the floured baking sheet. Pour the pear mixture into the center of the dough and pull up the sides of the dough to create a bowl around the filling. Crinkle the dough edges together to keep them from falling open during baking.
- Bake at 400*F for one hour, or until the crust has turned golden brown. Upon removing from the oven, immediately sprinkle the blue cheese on top so it melts a bit into the pears. Serve warm.
- I’m weird and like this with a spoonful of sour cream on top, but whipped cream or vanilla ice cream works great as well.