Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog and this is our 365th post.

Well, today is the one year anniversary of this blog, but no where near the 365th post. This is actually only our 71st post, which I apologize for. In trying to hold down four or five jobs between us, including the bad economy, and furloughs, it's been difficult to focus on this blog. 

But over those 71 posts, I have a lot more respect for bloggers who do keep a regular schedule, whether daily, weekly or even monthly. It's quite a commitment. 

Well, onto the food! Today's dish is a wonderful, sweet and savory dessert.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

The Food (Jhan)
I know it's been a while since we posted a new food but life has been very busy for us.

We actually came up with a few other dishes that have remained unpublished since the season has changed and they are just too heavy for summer eating. This salad is a dish that can be eaten summer, winter or fall if you can find good pears. The recipe was inspired by an Ina Garten "Cheese" episode on the Food Network.

This salad is very filling and so delicious. The flavors of the blue cheese, pears, cranberries and nuts blend together perfectly with the port and apple cider. These pears could also be served as a very rich dessert with a nice dessert wine.

This is one of the easiest things you can ever make and they are so elegant and rich.

The basics:
  • 2 pears peeled, halved, cored and tossed in lemon juice. Placed in baking dish.
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped*
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 2 tablespoons port
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 scant cup olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • mixed greens or mesclun
  • Preheat oven to 375
  1. Mix blue cheese, cranberries and toasted nuts together and spoon equal amounts onto each pear half
  2. Mix port, juice and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Gently pour mixture over pears
  3. Roast pears for about 25-30 minutes until pears are cooked through and cranberries are browned. Baste pears often during baking. Out of the oven, set aside dish until pears are just warm
  4. Mix olive oil with about 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid to dress the greens
  5. Serve pears set over dressed greens. Sprinkle with salt and a little fresh ground pepper
* We used fresh local walnuts in this recipe. Our local walnuts are not bitter or dry like some of those you might pick-up in the store; they toast up nicely and have a rich nutty flavor.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

The Plating
Simple, simple, simple is my motto any more. Simple round white plate with an nice off-white table cloth (wrinkled to provide a bit of out of focus texture). That's it. Nothing more needed.

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

The Lighting and Photography

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese Lighting
The lighting for this shot was fairly straightforward. The key light was the 580EX, shot through the large reflector. This gave a nice strong focused light, with good specular highlights on the filling. Not much different that what I've done before, but for some reason this came the closest to that diffuse but directional window light I've been trying so futilely to mimic.

I added a fill behind the key to fill in some of the shadows and another fill at lower power, bounced off the wall opposite the key light to make sure that there are no really deep shadows.

I think that this is one of my most successful lightings. I set it up, shot it as initially set up, and then went and had dessert... it was even still hot!

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

Lessons Learned
I think I can finally say that I have basic lighting down. I can set up a shot in minutes and have a pretty good idea before I take the first image of what I'm going to see. I've also learned some of the more obvious pitfalls with shadows, reflections, highlights, etc. I feel comfortable lighting most of what I shoot for this blog.

In that sense, I've come a long long way from my first 70 posts. We need to think about where we want to go in our next 294 posts.

And Jhan and I definitely want to keep this blog going, but time is a huge constraint for us. If you like what you read here, please let us know!


  1. I like what I read here! I enjoy both the recipes and the photography.

  2. Keep up the great work! I love the mix that the two of you provide between the photography and the cooking. I often find that I get a bit stale in trying out new lighting techniques or mixing up the styling and your blog continues to provide inspiration.