Blueberry-Pear Pistachio Tart
I get excited about the Super Bowl and I get a little mushy for Valentine’s Day, but the February tent-pole event/holiday that I am absolutely most stoked about is the Oscars. Having seen all the best picture nominated movies this year, I am predicting that The Artist will win best picture this year, with The Descendants as a close rival.
Last year, I had a clear favorite movie which was The King’s Speech. This year, I can’t exactly pinpoint which one is my favorite… the movie that I enjoyed the most just as a regular moviegoer, not as a hyper-critical film enthusiast. I do have a top three list though, and in no particular order: The Artist, Midnight in Paris, and The Descendants. Loved all these films tremendously but just can’t point my finger to the absolute numero uno. However, last year around this time, I had already established my three favorite films, and this is in order: The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Black Swan. Toy Story 3 was my fourth in case you were curious.
My sister-in-law is hosting her annual Academy Awards viewing party and attendees have to make/bring a dish inspired by the best picture nominated movies. Perhaps some Black and White Cookies for The Artist? Make Chocolate Éclairs for Midnight in Paris? How about Cream Scones with jam for War Horse? Baseball-shaped cookies for Moneyball or homemade Cracker Jack? Oh the dilemma. I’ll share on the next post what I end up making. Prize awaits for the most creative, most inspired dish. Very eager to take that prize home… whatever it may be.
I thought of reinventing this Blueberry-Pear Pistachio Tart I made not too long ago for the much-awaited Oscars viewing party. The twist was to transform the tart to a pie in honor of The Help’s nomination. I brewed the idea in my head for several days and decided that I want to challenge myself and come up with a dish inspired by The Tree Of Life. Gulp. This trippy movie directed by Terence Mallick is chock-full of imagery, a little non-linear, and honestly a little too long. It tells the story of a boy’s relationship with his father through his childhood memories while intertwining rich images of how the world started and how it became what it is now. Any ideas on what I should make to commemorate the brilliance of this film in the form of edible food? Baking a tree-shaped cake or bread is a total cop-out – although playing with the title seems to be the only viable option I can manage to come up with right now. I’ll share on the next post what my imaginative mind can whip up. Don’t get your hopes up, I might end up with a pie.
Focusing our attention back on this gorgeous tart. This uses pre-made puff pastry dough (please don’t judge) smeared with homemade pistachio paste and topped with sliced pears, blueberries, and chopped pistachios. Making puff pastry from scratch is a big task. Last time I made homemade puff pastry was culinary school days (about four years ago) and since then, I haven’t rekindled my relationship with the sometimes daunting puff pastry. It really is all about technique. It isn’t daunting once you have the technique down. I remember my chef instructor lauding my flaky puff pastry layers when we made Brie En Croute and Napoleons. That was a great feeling. But if you are pressed for time and can’t make puff pastry from scratch, like myself most days, you can opt to use a pre-made but high quality brand like Dufour and still have satisfying results.
Blueberry-Pear Pistachio Tart
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts
Yield: One 17-by-9-inch rectangular tart
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted and shelled raw pistachios, toasted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large whole egg, plus 1 large egg yolk, for egg wash
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 box store-bought puff pastry, thawed
3 to 4 Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup of blueberries
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for egg wash
1 to 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
1/4 cup apricot jam
1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine 1 cup of pistachios and the granulated sugar. Add in the butter and process until paste forms. Add whole egg, vanilla, and salt; process to combine.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out and trim puff pastry to 17-by-9-inch rectangle. If you are using 2 smaller puff pastry rectangles (like Pepperidge Farm’s puff pastry), you can overlap the edges and seal with water to make a bigger piece of dough and then roll it out. Gently lift and transfer the dough to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (if necessary, trim the edges that got stretched out when you lifted the dough to make it look even).
3. Using an offset spatula, spread the pistachio mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 3/4 inch border.
4. Position short end of the rectangle nearest you. Arrange pear slices in two vertical rows on top of the pistachio paste, alternating the direction of the pears in each row (check the photos above), then scatter blueberries on top of the pears. Fold in edges of dough and crimp using your index finger. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.
5. Whisk together the egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Brush the edges of the tart with the egg wash. Chop remaining 1 tablespoon pistachios and sprinkle on top, followed by the turbinado sugar. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit is juicy, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool.
6. While tart is cooling, combine jam with 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until softened and loose, about 2 minutes. Brush the apricot glaze over the pears and blueberries. Serve tart warm or room temperature.