As crunchy, autumn pears make a star appearance at the markets, what better way to celebrate their arrival than with a sophisticated French-style quiche? This Blue Cheese, Pear, and Pecan Quiche, adapted from The American Boulangerie by Pascal Rigo is one of my favorite ways to indulge in the season. Cooking from the book is almost as cheering as being able to breathe deep butter-breaths from Rigo's Boulangerie in San Francisco on Fillmore and Pine.
Blue cheese and pears sound like unlikely friends, but the funk, salt, and sweetness are wonderful complements. Be sure to use the most ripened pears you can find. The pears' sugar and fragrance are what moderate the cheese tang.
- Yield:one 11-inch tart
- 1 chilled, unbaked, 11-inch Pâte Brisée tart shell (recipe below)
- 2 very ripe pears, preferably Bartlett
- lemon for juicing
- 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
- 3/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon anise or caraway seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Pâte Brisée
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) frozen unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup water, ice-cold
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 round 11-inch diameter, fluted metal tart pan with removable bottom
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Core, stem, and slice pears lengthwise, but keep the peels on. Spritz pear slices with lemon juice to keep them from browning.
Remove and uncover the chilled Pâte Brisée tart shell, and sprinkle blue cheese and pecan halves into the bottom of the shell. Arrange the pear slices in a radial pattern over the nuts and cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, creme fraiche, egg, anise, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour the milk mixture over the tart filling.
Bake immediately until just set, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes to allow the filling to set before serving.
- makes one 11-inch tart shell -
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, about 1 minute. Add egg, cold water, and lemon juice and continue mixing just until large lumps form. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and, using your hands, gather the mixture together. Using the heel of your hand, knead the dough gently, just until it holds together, about 30 seconds. Place the dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and shape dough into a flat disk. Cover disk with another sheet of parchment, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Keeping the chilled dough sandwiched between parchment, roll the dough out until it's no more than an 1/8-inch thick. Carefully transfer the pastry to the metal tart pan, and trim the excess pastry by running your rolling pin over the top edge of the pan. Using a fork, lightly prick the bottom of the tart shell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before serving.