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Restorative.

That’s what this weekend has been for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It began Friday with an afternoon spent wandering Tribeca searching out lonely cobblestone streets for a portrait session next weekend. I found a couple of candidates that will work wonderfully, but the best part of the afternoon was simply being alone with my thoughts, not working, not stressing, just being. 13+ hours of working and commuting each day is draining during good weeks, but has been especially brutal for the past few months with no hope of vacation between April and Christmas and deadlines upon deadlines. It really got to me.

So that simple half day meant more to me than I can say. I returned home that evening practically dancing and ready to greet the weekend. We paid our weekly visit to the farmers’ market Saturday morning where I loaded up on produce, fresh cheese and grass-fed beef, then spent the rest of the day out and about. So there was no cooking until today, really, unless you count the white chili I made last night with the remnants of our mid-week roasted chicken. It was nothing out of the ordinary — just the usual suspects with cannellini beans and some Rancho Gordo hominy (and cooking liquid) thrown in for good measure. Oh, and topped with farmer cheese and some of that green salsa from a couple of weeks ago. Yum.

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I skipped the greyhound hike today to spend a little extra time cooking, so as soon as the boys left, I cranked up some bluegrass and got to work on this pear tart. I went savory instead of sweet, and finally got to try Clotilde’s olive oil tart crust (which deserves every rave review it got). It featured the goodness of caramelized onions, fresh herbs, gorgonzola, walnuts and fig vinegar. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary, but why reinvent the wheel when this combo is so very, very good?

But the first bite proved it was still missing a little something, so I sprinkled it with a little fleur de sel and grated a little Balinese long pepper over it. Yes, I sound like a brat, but this pepper is amazing stuff and went perfectly with the tart. Per-fect-l-y. It’s been sitting in my pantry since Memorial Day, and I can’t believe all the time I wasted not using it.

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Bosc pears channeling Rosalind Russell

recipe after the jump

Savory Pear Tart adapted from Jim Kowalski, Sunset Magazine

I made the olive oil crust from Chocolate & Zucchini for this tart, with excellent results. Instead of dried herbs, I used a combination of fresh — thyme, sage and rosemary — totaling 3 teaspoons. I didn’t measure the exact proportion of herbs, but used more thyme than rosemary or sage.

1 recipe olive oil tart crust
1 cup caramelized onions
4 ounces gorgonzola (or gorgonzola dolce), divided
3 ripe pears, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and sage)
1 handful walnut halves, chopped
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons fig vinegar or balsamic vinegar
fleur de sel
Balinese long pepper, or a ground pepper of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch tart pan with the dough, pressing into sides; trim excess along rim. Prick bottom of tart shell with fork and blind-bake the crust for 10 minutes. Cool.

Spread caramelized onions over cooled crust, then evenly crumble about 3 ounces of gorgonzola over it. In a medium bowl, combine pears, lemon juice, and minced herbs. Arrange pear slices in an overlapping spiral, starting with the outer edge and working toward the center. Crumble remaining gorgonzola over pears and evenly top with chopped walnuts. Mix vinegar and honey together in a small bowl and drizzle over filling. Bake until pears are cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Finish with fleur de sel and ground pepper to taste before serving.

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