Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pear and Blue Cheese

  • 1 cup warm water201101-r-focaccia
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large Bosc pear, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  1. In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the oil; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and the salt and knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let stand for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the sheet and press it down to fit. Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the dough rise until puffed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Scatter the onions over the dough. Arrange the pear over the onions and sprinkle with the blue cheese. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the focaccia and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve.


Brian Boitano’s Pear and Almond Crostata

1 (8-ounce) package Cream Cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour (plus more for dusting)
2 Eggs (divided)1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 (7-ounce) packages of Almond Paste
4 Pears (peeled)
2 tablespoons Raw Sugar
1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
1/4 cup sliced Almonds (toasted)
8 fresh Mint sprigs
Divide each package of almond paste into 4 equal portions. Dust a work surface with flour and roll each portion into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick.

Place 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each round. Spread the filling out in an even layer, stopping about 1/2 inch from the edge of the round.

Cut each pear in half and remove the seeds and fibrous spine using a paring knife or melon baller. Cut each half into 5 slices. Fan out 5 of the pear slices on top of the filling in the center of a round. Gently fold the edges of the almond paste over the edge of the filling all the way around. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients, filling both sheets.

Whisk together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl until well blended. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each crostata with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake the crostatas until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve each crostata on a plate with a small scoop of ice cream, if desired, and garnished with sliced almonds and mint.

Helpful Tip:
1. Try this recipe with different fruit or berries. When using berries, combine with cornstarch to thicken the excess liquid.

Arugula, Pear and Stilton Salad

3/4 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
8 cups lightly packed arugula (about 8 ounces), stems trimmed
6 small Bosc or Comice pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced
8 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled

Whisk oil, vinegar and shallot in medium bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
(Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Combine arugula, pears and cheese in bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat.

Serves 8.