A friend of mine has started a fun group called Top Chef: Ludlow. A group of friends get together and act as chefs and judges, eat food, and have good times. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there is no fighting, hooking up (to my knowledge) incessant cursing, or faux-hawks. So I don't think Bravo is banging down our doors for a TV deal.
Each month has a theme. First, it was appetizers in October. Root Vegetables in November. And Red and Green in December. Red and Green? I was stumped. Then, I saw that the Rosy Poached Pear tart was chosen by Lauren of I'll Eat You.
Unfortunately, I was not able to make it on the date chosen. But I was determined to compete. I was going to make this tart and submit it, hoping that flavor would prevail over absteneeism.
I buckled down, knowing that each component needed the utmost love and attention.
I first made the pistachio pastry cream. I felt excited as I watched the ivory colored milk turn a pale green cream and didn't wait for it to cool as I took my first taste.
It was chalky! I should have known that I'd come across such a problem with a recipe that consisted 3 TABLESPOONS of cornstarch. I hoped that my dish would not meet the same fate from the Top Chef Ludlow judges and prayed the the combination of the poached pears and syrup would mask the "I-just-ate-a-stick-of-chalk-from-the-teachers-chalkboard (do they even have those anymore?)" feeling
I poached my pears in shiraz flavored sugar, lemon and orange. I had one too many sips of the post-poaching liquid (which would seriously make the best sangria ever) and had to force myself to stop because I wanted to make the honey-wine sauce that accompanied the tart and also because there is something slightly disturbing about drinking poaching liquid at 10 am on a Saturday morning. I stopped myself, added the honey, and waited for it to reach the perfect, syrupy consistency.
Dorie's sweet tart is also something I can make with ease after making it so many times, so thankfully, that was one component I could not mess up. Except for the fact that I accidentally baked it three days early and decided to freeze it post-baking.
How do you accidentally bake something? I have no idea.
I caramelized my sugar, added the pistachios to coat, and chopped up those deliciously addictive little bites of textural pleasure.
Finally, it came time to assemble the tart. I was nervous for so many reasons, but mainly I was nervous because we all know that a tart with pastry cream shouldn't be assembled too far in advance. Three, four hours, tops. Me? Six whole hours, baby. I defy the rules.
I struggled to get my pears in that perfect concentric circle that is featured in the book and cursed food-stylists everywhere for giving me unrealistic expectations. I did not want my first showing to be a disaster. I rearranged and rearranged again. I threw out (read: ate) all of the mistakes. Then, I sprinkled on the pistachios. Nothing masks a mess like something sprinkled or drizzled on a dessert.
Then, Jack walks over to the kitchen. "Awesome. That's for me?"
"No. I'm submitting this for the Top Chef Ludlow event."
"Well, that's rude." He said incredulously. "It's got all of my favorite components. My tart that I love so much. Pistachios. Pears. And it smells so good. I don't get any?"
I shook my head, feeling slightly guilty.
"Not a bite?"
"No. I'm sorry, love. And I'm not making it again, because it takes forever."
"That's really rude of you."
I hoped that the snub to my boyfriend would all work out in the end.
I receive this text from my friend at 8:38 pm: "We haven't judged yet, but everyone loved your tart. The crust was perfect. Not soggy at all."
I breathed a sigh of relief and waited with anticipation. Could I catch up in points?
9:10 pm: "You won! We're drinking your prize right now!"
Holla! Thanks Dorie and Thanks to for choosing this prize winning tart! Click here for the recipe.