Step 1In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers.
Step 2In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla. Work the egg mixture into the flour mixture just until it resembles cornmeal. Stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough holds together.
Step 3Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Step 4Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it is just over 13 inches in diameter. Fit the dough into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the dough so it is flat with the top of the tart pan, then line and fill the shell with pie weights or beans.
Step 5Blind bake the tart shell until set, about 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and set the shell on a rack to cool.
Step 1In a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to poaching temperature (not quite a simmer) and poach the pears just until tender (a knife should pierce easily). Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and cool completely. Core the cooled pear halves and slice each half lengthwise into 6 slices.
Step 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, place the butter and almond meal. Set aside. (Do not worry about mixing them together.)
Step 2In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean. Bring the milk just to a simmer over high heat, then remove from heat and discard the bean pod.
Step 3Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flour. Whisk in about a cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs, then whisk in the remaining milk until combined. Whisk the mixture over medium heat just until it thickens. Immediately remove from heat, pour the mixture over the butter and almond meal and whisk.
Step 4Spread the filling in the tart shell and top with the sliced pears (you may not use all of the pears; we used about three-fourths of the slices). Bake the tart until the custard is lightly browned and set, about 30 minutes.
Step 5Remove from heat and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.