Monday, January 18, 2010

This Salty Pear is Sweet

This recipe for our Pinot Noir poached pear tart with sea salt isn't just our namesake, it has pretty much everything we're about: market fresh fruit, lots of vino, perfect pastry, coarse salt, and chocolate to top it all off. To start you're going to need to get a basket of pears (each tart requires a half pear, so 4 pears will make 8 tarts). We used Anjou because they're still in season and keep their shape well when baked, but you could just as easily use Bartletts.

Recipe: Pinot Noir poached Pear tarts with Sea Salt

4 Anjou pears, poched, halved, then sliced

Poaching liquid

1/2 Bottle of red wine, Pinot Noir, Amarone or a personal favourite
1 large orange, zest and juice of
1 stick of cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh mint, rosemary or thyme

Puff pastry

1lb all purpose flour
1lb cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 C of heavy cream, mixed with cold water
1/2 C cold water, mixed with cream

Almond filling

1/4 C of ground almonds
1/4 C of confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons soft, whipped butter

For the Poached Pears fill a saucepan (preferably one that's going fit your pears tightly) add your vino, a vanilla bean sliced down the middle, the zest and juice of an orange, a stick of cinnamon, and a few sprigs of fresh mint, thyme or rosemary but don't over do it. If you only have dried herbs that's fine, but just a pinch will do. You don't want your pears to taste like a roast lamb. Next, bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5 to 10. This particular poaching recipe is adapted from Jamie's Kitchen, but there's a million twists out there so just pick a pear poaching recipe that suits if you're not into this one. When the liquids are simmering (or marrying their flavors as the chefs would say), skin and core your pears from the base. Make sure to keep your pears whole with the stem on and in clean, presentable form. You're going to see them when you're done so you don't want to rough them up. Once your pears are prepped, place them base down in the simmering liquid and cover. And if they aren't fully immersed add more wine, it's important that the fruit is covered in the booze. They won't cook evenly if they're not, so make sure they're drowning in the sauce.

For The Pastry
(if you're up for making your own) this is the recipe we use. If not, store-bought pastry will do the trick. It comes in two forms: sheets, or blocks. If you buy sheets, simply lay out one sheet and take it from there. The blocks will need to defrost, and you will need a chunk of pastry roughly the size of one good sized handful. This usually means half of one package. On a floured surface, roll out a sheet about 1/4" thick and brush the surface with one egg yolk beaten with a tablespoon of water. Then using a pizza roller, or the blade of a sharp knife, cut two rows of four squares or rectangles, whichever will accommodate your pears nicely.

For The Filling simply whisk together 1/4c ground almonds, 1/4c confectioner's sugar and three tablespoons softened butter. Spread one tablespoon of filling on each of the rectangles, but try to leave a border because the egg-washed pastry will bake into a beautiful golden hue in the oven. Next, take each poached pear and cut it length-wise in half. With the cut side down, cut each half into 1/8" horizontal slices keeping the shape of the half. Using the Blade of a thick knife, transfer the fanned half pears to the pastry rectangles. Bake these beauties on a lined/greased baking sheet in a preheated 350 ˚ oven for 20-25 minutes or until the edges look golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Garnish with a drizzle of chocolate, icing sugar and a sprinkle of sea salt.


  1. This is a pretty perfect post in every sense, the recipe, the way you describe it, the understated but evocative photos.
    Great stuff, very good to have found you