Showing posts with label pears. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pears. Show all posts

16 March 2014

Favorite Photos of Pears and Apples

My part of the world is still snow covered, but the snow is no longer white and pristine. Instead it is gray and dingy. Officially there's less than a week left of winter, but up here were know better than to expect instant spring. Or even gradual spring. In fact, there's a rain and snow mix on the way.

All I can think of is fruit. The scrag end of winter does this to me. Although I love citrus fruits, nothing satisfies my palate like an apple or pear, eaten with a hunk of cheese.

Pears and apples are so photogenic! Here are my favorite apple and pear photos from nearly eight years of blogging:


A trio of Bosc pears; used to make this recipe.

15 February 2009

Baked Pears with Calvados and Mascarpone Cheese

For Grandma Annie, a fresh, juicy pear was the ultimate treat.

It took me rather a long time to appreciate pears. I found the taste a bit metallic and far too subtle on my young palate. Give me an orange instead, later an apple. That was then. This is now.

I was an adult before I began to savor the pear, which I now realize is a more sophisticated and shapelier cousin of of the apple.

A few years back, as we settled into autumn in the southwest of France, I bought two bottles of cider, pear and apple. Pear was sweet and light, while the apple was vinegar-y and heavy to my American-bred palate. I tossed it out.

Baked Pear with Calvados and Mascarpone Cheese (serves four)

  • 2 Red Bartlett pears
  • 1/4 cup Calvados
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cheese topping:
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • dash vanilla extract
  • pinch sugar
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts


Halve the pears, cutting from the top down, and hollow out the center. A grapefruit spoon or a sturdy melon baller is perfect for this task. Set aside.

Melt butter and sugar, add the Calvados and a pinch of cinnamon. Pour over the pears and allow them to absorb the liquid for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 375. Place the pears cut side up in a buttered baking dish. Drizzle the remaining liquid over the pears, allowing it to pool in the center of the pear halves. Bake for 30-40 minutes until pears are softer, but still firm.

While pears are baking, blend mascarpone with vanilla and sugar.

Remove pears from oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stuff center of pears with mascarpone cheese. Top with roasted walnuts.

The taste is subtle, the sensation on the tongue is crisp, creamy and crunchy.

02 December 2008

Roasted Chicken with Pears, Shallots, and Thyme

We woke to a thin dusting of snow yesterday, enough to make the roads slippery and require a quick shoveling.

Later in the yard of the brick Georgian across the parking lot from my office, I saw a huge flock of starlings, gleaning odd bits of food from the snow-covered yard and roosting in the trees, chattering away. I love their chatter on late autumn afternoons as it signals a turn of season.

There are other signs, too, many from the bird world, like the whistling swans I saw along the shore last week, and the skeins of Canada geese that continue to crisscross our leaden skies. The berries on our bushes have begun to turn red and the grasses along the bay and river are brown, a warm contrast to the cool grays of the sky and water.

It's really lovely out there. But cold.

At night we cook comforting meals. I roatsed my own bird tonight, and the aroma was wonderful. I found the recipe in the current issue of Body + Soul magazine: Chicken with Pears, Shallots and Thyme.

Since I followed it to the letter, and it's not posted on the magazine's Web site yet, I will simply tell you that it is a chicken stuffed with five sprigs of thyme, one lemon, three cloves of garlic and then roasted with three Anjou pears and eight shallots in a very hot oven. The aroma is heavenly while it is cooking, very seasonal. I love an autumn or winter meal roasting late into the night, filling the house with its aromas, wrapping around us with the promises of tastes to come.

My husband and I put read-and-green place mats on our dining table and enjoyed this dish by itself: Chicken in its glorious juices, along with tender shallots and almost-creamy pears. The roasting removes that metallic taste pears often have, and replaces it with a mellow sweetness.

With this dish, no sides are needed. But a green salad would have been a nice first course.

I saved every leftover morsel, and tomorrow I will make soup or stew. I should think something with root vegetables would be in order.

I can't wait...

Ok, here's the basic recipe: Rub a whole chicken with coarse sea salt and pepper, and stuff with three peeled garlic gloves, a quartered lemon and five sprigs of thyme. Roast at 450-475 for 15 minutes, then surround with 8 halved shallots and three quartered and cored pears. Add a few more thyme sprigs. Roast for another 40 minutes or so.

04 February 2007

Gingery Pear Crisp with Salted Almond Topping

























Tarte Tatin and Cherry Clafoutis not withstanding, pears are the fruit I have always associated with a true French kitchen.

When Grandma Annie wanted fruit, she usually chose a juicy pear. Her mother, Mémére, loved them, too. It took me years to develop a taste for pears, as I found them too metallic.

I like them now, and they are second only to apple desserts in my repertoire.

This dessert was created from odds and ends and leftovers on a winter night in 2007. It was better than I expected, and I've made it a time or two since

I've update the recipe a bit, as I no longer rely heavily on artificial sweeteners. I have also tried this with mixed nuts, with good results.

Here is my original recipe, updated:

Pear-Ginger Crisp with Salted Almond Topping
  • 6 D'Anjou pears, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cold cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the pears and candied ginger and combine with sweetener, cinnamon and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Toss to ensure each piece is well coated. Set aside.

Chop nuts, and blend with flour, butter and sugar. You may start out with a pastry tool, but I find there is nothing like plunging your hands into the mix until it is coarse and grainy.

Pour the fruit into a greased 8-by-8 inch baking pan. Press down with a spoon or spatula. Spread the crust mix evenly over the top; again tamping down. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Garnish with more candied ginger, if you like.

Note: The crust smelled so good while I was making it, and I sampled a fair amount before I put the crisp in the oven. I love the mix of sweet and salty.

The flavors here are subtle and delicate. That was my intention. I really did not want any single taste to overpower the others.

This light dessert passed the Ultimate Taste Test (that's when leftovers taste equally delicious), and I ate it for breakfast with a hunk of low-fat cheddar cheese.


25 January 2007

Country Blue Cheese-Pear Cake

I survey my refrigerator every day or so to see what’s left over, forgotten or likely to go to waste if I don’t use it soon.

Some would say it’s the old French frugality cropping up.

Grandma Annie did the same thing. I thought of her as I cobbled together a quick lunch today. And for some reason, I thought of Barb, perhaps because I sensed hers was a frugal existence.

It’s been years since I thought of her, the large, plain woman who lived two short blocks from Grandma Annie. I remember her as a quiet woman, either sad or wise, or perhaps both. She wore sensible dresses and sturdy shoes and was one of those people you see walking when others drive.

She was younger than my grandmother by 15 or 20 years, I think, but Annie seemed to watch out for her. If she baked cupcakes or cookies, she’d whip off her apron, grab her coat and say, “I’ll just take some down to Barb.” If Annie’s garden yielded more tomatoes than usual, she'd always give some to Barb.

Barb would do the same, less frequently. I do not recall Annie entering Barb’s house or Barb lingering in Annie’s sunny living room, but they kept in touch.

As I grew older, I understood that Barb’s handsome husband was a bit of a ne’er-do-well. He had a good job, I am told, but what he did with his money, I do not know. There were whispers, of course, there are always whispers; Annie was too polite to say. I knew better than to ask.

In my head I drew certain conclusions about Barb that I never voiced around my elders. I simply filed it all away.

Barb fascinated me. I knew she worked in the office of a big department store and she walked to work every morning and walked home every night surefooted in her big sturdy shoes. Not many of her generation worked outside the home, but Barb did so with quiet dignity that I admired even as a child.

She did what she had to do, and if she was troubled by it, she never said. She simply did.

I do not think my grandmother pitied her. Nor do I think Barb sought pity. But it was clear Annie respected Barb and thought of her when she had extras to give away.

Today, looking at the contents of my refrigerator, I was baffled until I stumbled upon on a site called Let’s Cook French, which featured the recipe from which this cake was adapted. It was an interesting experiment.

Blue Cheese and Pear Cake

  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • dash salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • three pears, peeled and chopped


Preheat oven to 400. In large bowl, mix flour and baking powder. In smaller bowl, whisk eggs, oil, milk, salt and pepper. Pour into dry ingredients, and blend. Add the Gruyere and blend. Finally, add the pear, blue cheese and nuts.

The original recipe calls for the batter to be poured into a buttered and floured cake mold. I used a bundt pan.

Note: This is a most unusual cake. More savory than sweet, it strikes me as a brunch dish that could be served with a fruit salad or with a lettuce salad that includes fruit. It has a rustic, Old World taste, not unpleasant.