Pear Almond Tart made with poached pears, a tender, flavorful all-butter crust and a delicious almond filling. Not too sweet and amazing flavor! This is the most delicious tart ever!
I try to keep things pretty lighthearted and cheerful here on the blog. On social media too. . who wants to see sadness or despair? No one wants to see that. People want to see delicious, beautiful, amazing food.
A very dear friend (a sister, really) of mine, Rina Lee, lost her battle with cancer and went to heaven on Tuesday, November 1st. I made this tart for Rina. This would be a dessert I know Rina would love. I’m going to take today, here on my blog, to remember her and to celebrate her life and our friendship.
If you need to skip down to the recipe, I completely understand.
Shortly after we moved to Madison, Wisconsin (three years ago in early November), I connected with the only person I knew here, Joe Lee. We went to church together in Los Angeles and a mutual friend told me that Joe was also moving to Madison. Joe was married to Rina and we all met for lunch at a Korean restaurant.
Joe and Rina had moved to Madison just a few months before me and Rina welcomed me and my family into the city as if she had been here her whole life. The first time she and I would go out together, we went grocery shopping at a local Asian market, she gave me a huge welcome to Madison bag filled with all different kinds of local foods, treats and a candle.
We quickly became friends and we spent a lot of time together. Rina even came over here to our house to help me unpack. She had known me for like less than 3 weeks and was helping me unpack my house. That was the kind of person Rina was. So thoughtful, kind, sweet and selfless.
And when she and Joe met Phoebe and Madeline, my kids fell in love. Joe and Rina soon became their favorite people and were always drawing pictures for them and attacking Joe and Rina with hugs whenever they would see them.
We spent that Thanksgiving together. And many more holidays together after that. Joe and Rina became our family here in Madison. I don’t remember exactly when Rina told me but she had beat cancer and was in remission and was cancer free.
Rina had stomach cancer so even when she was cancer free, she had to eat small portions and watched what she ate. She could still eat almost everything but just had to watch herself. Rina was so thoughtful and caring to our family, especially with Phoebe and Madeline. Bringing out their creativity, playing with them, encouraging them and always bringing over fun projects and treats for them to enjoy.
Paul and I got to celebrate Rina’s one year anniversary of being cancer free. This was on or around April 27, 2014.
For the last year and a half, Rina has been sick. The cancer came back. I have never met anyone like Rina. In the last year and half when she was sick, in and out of the hospital, going through chemotherapy and treatment, I never heard her complain. Not even once.
We were always positive, always thinking of the future, Rina was a fighter. She was too young, there was so much more of her life to live.
But I have to believe God’s ways are higher. She is not in anymore pain, she is not suffering anymore. She is in heaven, smiling down on us.
Rina’s friends started a Go Fund Me page, to help with the medical expenses (Rina was in hospice care at her home; her husband, Joe, and her mother were her daily caregivers) and now her funeral. Being able to witness Joe and Rina’s mother care for her the way they did, was amazing. Truly amazing. That is love! They loved her so much.
After the Go Fund Me page was posted, within the first 24 to 48 hours, the goal of $25,000 was reached. People responded so quickly and gave because of how much they loved Rina and Joe. I have never seen people respond or give that quickly towards anything. That says something.
The common theme amongst things being written about Rina (and what I have seen repeated over and over again on Facebook from her friends all throughout her life): her amazing smile, her gentle and loving spirit, “her amazing ability to make everyone near her feel important and loved.”
She did this! This was Rina Lee. She touched so many people’s lives.
I am sad, and mourning but I also celebrate the beautiful person Rina was. She was a bright light and joy and I feel honored to have met her and to have known Rina for the last three years. I will never be the same. My family will never be the same. I want to live my life loving my family and those around me and lifting people up. I want to continue to serve and feed people (what I love doing). I want to stop and talk with people. I want to let people know I care. Rina reminds me I have to do this. We go through life too fast. Missing things, missing people, missing opportunities. I am so guilty of this!
The next few weeks are going to be impossible. I have several big projects happening for work but I am going to face them with strength and gratitude because I am here and have a chance to do what I love and touch people’s lives.
Because of Rina, I will never be the same. I will strive to be better.
“Dearest Rina, we will always remember your infectious smile, your caring and loving spirit, and your amazing ability to make everyone near you feel important and loved.” We will miss you! But I know because of how you touched so many, we will all strive to be better people because of you.
Pear Almond Tart
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 medium sized firm but ripe Bosc or D'Anjou pears peeled
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose wheat flour*
- 2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1 tablespoon all purpose wheat flour*
- 7 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 6 tablespoons 3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- Powdered sugar optional
For the pears:
- Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
For the crust:
- Blend powdered sugar, almonds, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground. Add the butter and blend until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Mix in egg yolk. Add the flour. Blend until the dough comes together in clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
For the almond filling:
- Finely grind the almonds and flour in a food processor. Mix in the sugar, butter, blending until smooth. Mix in the egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper or lightly floured work surface. Turn dough into 9" diameter tart pan with removable bottom or 9" pie plate. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang if needed. Pierce crust all over with fork. Freeze the crust for about 10 minutes.
- Line the crust with buttered foil, buttered side down, then fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, for about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake crust until sides are golden and bottom is set, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, for about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust in pan on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
- Spread almond filling evenly in crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange on top of the filling.
- Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into the center of filling comes out clean, for about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com