Delia

Warm Roquefort Cheesecake with Pears in Balsamic Vinaigrette

This savoury cheesecake includes a clever blend of cheese flavours, as the smooth fromage frais and curd cheese gently complement the sharpness of the Roquefort. And, while cheese and pears are always good partners, this particular combination is a marriage made in heaven.


Serves 8

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

Warm Roquefort Cheesecake with Pears in Balsamic Vinaigrette
Ingredients
For the base:
 4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs
 2 oz (50 g) Pecorino Romano, finely grated (or Parmesan)
 1 oz (25 g) melted butter
 freshly milled black pepper
For the filling:
 6 oz (175 g) Roquefort
 3 large eggs
 8 oz (225 g) medium-fat curd cheese
 4 oz (110 g) fromage frais (8 per cent fat)
 1 level tablespoon snipped chives
 4 spring onions, finely sliced
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pears in balsamic vinaigrette:
 4 firm but ripe pears
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
 1 fat clove of garlic, peeled
 1 level teaspoon of Maldon sea salt
 1 rounded teaspoon mustard powder
 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
 freshly milled black pepper
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).
Equipment
You will also need a springform cake tin, 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter.

Method

First of all make the base of the cheesecake by mixing the breadcrumbs and Pecorino Romano cheese together, then pour in the butter, adding a good grinding of pepper. Press the crumb mixture firmly down all over the base of the tin, then bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. (This time will vary slightly, so it does need careful watching – the aim is for the base to be crisp and toasted.

If it is undercooked it does not have the lovely crunchy texture so necessary to the finished cheesecake.) Then remove it from the oven and turn the heat down to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

Now make the filling. First beat together the eggs and curd cheese in a bowl, then stir in the fromage frais and seasoning. After that crumble the Roquefort fairly coarsely and stir it in, together with the chives.

Pour the mixture into the tin and scatter the sliced spring onion over the top, then place it on the high shelf of the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the centre feels springy to the touch. Allow the cheesecake to cool and settle for about 20 minutes before serving cut into slices.

The pears in balsamic vinaigrette can be prepared up to two hours before serving. Thinly pare off the skins of the pears using a potato peeler and being careful to leave the stalks intact.

Now lay each pear on its side with the stalk flat on a board, then take a very sharp knife and make an incision through the tip of the stalk. Turn the pear the right way up and gently cut it in half, first sliding the knife through the stalk and then through the pear.

Now remove the central core of each half, then, with the pear core side downwards, slice it thinly but leave the slices joined at the top. Press gently and the slices will fan out.

Make up the vinaigrette by crushing the clove of garlic and sea salt together with a pestle and mortar until it becomes a creamy paste. Now add the mustard and several grinds of black pepper. Work these into the garlic, then, using a small whisk, add the balsamic vinegar and then the oil – whisking all the time to amalgamate.

Serve one pear half with each portion of the cheesecake, with a little of the vinaigrette spooned over.

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