Be Daring…

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This week I’ve been kind of MIA. Part because I had a lot of outside projects due. Part because I had a lot of appointments. And part because the food blogging community lost a great one this week.

When I started blogging 8 ½ years ago there were not that many food bloggers. Hard to believe I know given the saturation of them today, but true. For the most part we all knew who each other were and if we didn’t we at least knew their blog (so not the case today).

I became blog friends with Ivvone of Cream Puffs in Venice. We bonded over baked goods, Canada, and the love of hockey. Ivvone and a woman named Lis (La Mia Cucina) decided to challenge themselves each month to bake something they were kind of afraid to make and called themselves The Daring Bakers. The first thing they made were soft pretzels. Seeing this I immediately asked if I could join in the next time. And with that the group doubled…to 4…me, Brilynn, Ivvone, and Lis. Yes, indeed the Daring Bakers was that small at one point.

From there more and more joined us. In the beginning we went around to everyone’s site and commented. We would be on chat or email discussing our love or hate (cough, cough, crepe cake) of the baked good. We were so small we tried to all organize what weekend we would bake together that way if we were having issues we could turn to each other for support. Our adventure in croissants was several days of mishaps galore. I invented new swear words when we made the crepe cake. When it was my turn to pick I chose a Strawberry Mirror Cake. And of all the challenges it was the Yule Log that was my favorite.

Many laughs were shared and I miss the good ol’ days for blogging. I eventually left the Daring Bakers as it just got too big and away from what I wanted. I felt bad sending Lis the email telling her I just couldn’t hang anymore, but she understood.

Sadly I was informed on Tuesday of the passing of Lis that morning, passing from a heart attack. I like to think her heart just grew too big from all the love she had to give. She really was a joyous and loving person…and did tend to swear like a drunken sailor a bit. :) She was a little like Julia Child in the fact that she clearly admitted all of her mistakes on her blog and proudly displayed what she called her hideous photos.

In 2006 she made both my Bluecheese Cheesecake with Pear-Onion Jam and my Bread Pudding. She loved them so much that every year she brought the cheesecake to Christmas parties and would make my bread pudding for Christmas morning. I won’t be getting my email this year letting me know she made my bread pudding again. :(

Many of us decided that the best way to give tribute to Lis was to cook/bake for her. I thought about re-doing one of the former DB challenges but chose to make an easier version of the cheesecake that she loved so much…and couldn’t believe those flavors would go together. So it goes from cheesecake to spread but still the same onion pear jam that she loved (great with pork and chicken too). It’s a great treat to bring to upcoming holiday parties.

Goodbye dear Lis, you will be missed and you were certainly loved. I hope you see everyone’s blog posts today and are smiling down from above…though probably swearing that you aren’t here to eat is.
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Blue Cheese Spread with Onion-Pear Jam

Ingredients

  • Blue Cheese Spread with Onion-Pear Jam
  • Blue Cheese Spread:
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temeprature
  • 8 oz. shredded Asiago cheese
  • 8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • Onion-Pear Jam:
  • 4 cups sweet onions, diced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups pears, peeled, diced
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. For the cheese spread:
  2. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream cheeses together until smooth.
  3. Add cream and mix until fully incorporated.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Put into a crock or into a mold (like I did) and place in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight to get the flavors to really develop.
  6. For the Onion-Pear Jam
  7. In a medium sized saucepan add the oil and onions and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  8. Add pears, vinegar, sugar, cayenne and salt.
  9. Bring to a boil stirring the whole time.
  10. Then reduce to simmer.
  11. Simmer until the liquids have gone and you have jam like consistency.
  12. It took about 3 hours for mine to fully reduce. Just keep an eye on it and stir about every 20 minutes.
  13. Place jam on top of cheese spread. It’s also delish with chicken or pork as well.
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Comments

  1. So so very sad. I remember reading all the Daring Bakers posts before I was a blogger myself. Part of what made me want to blog was seeing the community and how everyone challenged one another. Thinking of you all today!! xoxo

  2. So sorry to hear this news!!! This sounds like a great recipe and I think I will make it for my girls night out party.

  3. It was heartbreaking for me to heart about Lis passing away. I was never a Daring Baker, but I practically idolized the people who were. I went back, way back, to the beginning of the archives and read through them, wanting to be like you, wanting to make such delicious, beautiful things and be part of the group, and the original few were the ones that blew me away the most. Lis was one of my baking heroes, and now I’m full of regret that I never got up the guts to tell her that myself. Lesson learned.

    The heart you put into this post, and in picking a recipe that commemorates Lis and reminds you of her in such a happy way, made me smile even though I’m so sad she’s gone. I think she’d want to be remembered this way – especially for her love of food, and for the food experience she shared with everyone.

  4. This is such a nice tribute Peabody. I really want to give this recipe a try.

  5. Loved this, Peabody. You guys were rock stars in my mind when I discovered you and that strawberry mirror cake was truly amazing. I love that this has turned into a dip — the flavors sound amazing. Missing Lis and the good old days.

  6. I wasn’t a Daring Baker either, but I liked to pretend I was sometimes. I am so sorry to hear this news. I am going to save this recipe so that I can make it over the holidays too. :(

  7. So sad. I never was a part of the daring bakers but I love how you described how it started. Such a great idea to be able to call upon each other for support if you all made it at the same time.

  8. Oh I guess I’m old school then. Going around and commenting on blogs and all. I love your blog Pea and I want you to know that in my mind you also are a blogging great. Even if you always do root for the wrong hockey team. ;)

    Love you and love this post and someday I’m sure to love this spread.

  9. I love your beautiful words for her. So sad that she’s gone so soon. Being a daring baker changed the way I looked at my capabilities. I eventually left too(and only after being part of it for 6 months) but joining that group really helped build my confidence in the kitchen. It really changed me for the better. I’m so thankful for that.

    The recipe looks delicious. I’m totally making it!

  10. Her heart really was huge and so full, and this is a lovely and fitting tribute.

  11. Beautifully said. Lis would love this. I remember those early days, and how happy I felt when I joined. The mirror cake was my first challenge!

  12. Lis would love that you made her favourite. I agree on the heart too big part. <3
    xox

  13. Such a beautiful way to pay tribute to Lis and to remember the fun we all had when it was a small group. Lis was the heart of the Daring Bakers and I think she would be touched by this recipe and your words. She was a lady despite all that swearing. Also a hoot, hilarious, organized and kind.

  14. The blogging community has lost a very special lady. We all learned so much with a sense of style, humility and humour,and ALWAYS laughter and fun. Some of us may no longer be Daring Bakers but we are still those fledgling bloggers in spirit who rose to every challenge. Thank you Lis. X0X0X0 I remember the mirror cake:D

  15. Oh dear no! I joined the Daring Bakers for croissants and like you, had to leave when it just got too, too big and no longer any fun. I was in regular contact with Liz until shortly after I left and then we just lost touch.
    Can you please email me directly if you know of somewhere specific a donation can be made in her name?
    I think I need to go pull out my Daring Bakers book and make something for her.

  16. Hi Peabody,

    I’m going to make this for Thanksgiving, so I was wondering how far in advance I could make the jam, would 2 or 3 days be ok?

    Also, I hardly ever buy pears, how do you tell when they are ripe?

  17. @Kate- you can absolutely make it that far ahead.
    Pears are ripe when there is a little softness when squeezed, this will work if they aren’t that ripe…it cooks down.

  18. G’day and what a lovely tribute to Lis, true!
    GREAT photo and recipe!
    It is bittersweet as am enjoying reading all the tributes, shared one, but feel sad and glad at the same time too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  19. This is just too sad. A wonderful tribute to her memory though

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