twin pears

Asian pears

A few nights ago some dinner guests arrived supplied with ice wine, goat cheese and four of the biggest Asian pears I’d ever seen. We managed to eat two pears between the six of us, but there were still two left. On Friday I was mucking around with the camera, fruit and various backdrops for an assignment, so I decided to do some fruit portraits.

trio

Admittedly those apples are a bit small, but look at the size of that pear! And I adore the texture of its skin.

belly

[Last year for NaBloPoMo I ran food-related comics on Sundays, but I haven’t been able to find many good new ones, so instead I thought I might show some of my food photography projects that don’t otherwise fit into food posts – JT]

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pear ginger muffins

Anjou pear

In general I live by the motto, “When life gives you pears, make pear custard pie.” But sometimes pear muffins are a good substitute, especially if you only have one pear that needs using.

pear-ginger muffin

I’ve posted this recipe before (ripped off from a Williams-Sonoma catalog many, many years ago), in the form of part-whole-wheat rhubarb muffins. This time I just used all-purpose flour, replaced the rhubarb with one bosc pear, peeled, cored and diced, and added a heaping tablespoon of chopped crystallized ginger. As usual, the muffins baked up perfectly. Pear is a more subtle addition than rhubarb, but it goes nicely with the ginger and makes charming pockets of soft sweetness. We have a bag of these in the freezer now, ready for quick weekday breakfasts.

pear-ginger muffins

using up some pears

an assortment of pears

As so often happens, last time we were at my parents’ house there was a box of pears to deal with. I took what I thought was a modest assortment and hoped they wouldn’t all ripen at once. So far, so good – only two came ripe this week, although I did have to put them in the fridge until I was ready for them.

pears in the fridge

We had already made and eaten a pear custard pie not long ago, so this pair of pears was treated to our other usual preparation: poached in sugar water in the oven, then stuffed with a mixture of chopped pecans, sugar, brandy, vanilla and sour cream. Unbelievably, this recipe came out of a Betty Crocker cookbook, but it really is a winner: tender, sweet, hot pears with a rich crunchy filling – what’s not to like? Continue reading

a slight pie mishap

bosc pears

There’s a box of lovely bosc pears from the Wenatchee Valley that are just ripening in our basement. Pears are a real use-it-or-lose-it sort of fruit, so I thought I’d make one of my pear custard pies to take on a visit to a relative. A good idea, but a few problems in the execution.

The pie baked up beautifully, with a golden crust and pretty browned-sugar spots on the top, but of course it hadn’t set up completely (I could probably have left it in the oven a little longer). Generally custard pies will finish setting up on their own, so I didn’t worry about it. But instead of letting the pie cool on its rack in the kitchen, we impatiently packed it up in a cake carrier and took it off in the car.

Lesson learned: do not transport a hot, unset custard pie in an enclosed container. Between the jiggling of the moving car and the heat trap of the carrier lid, the pie completely liquified on the trip down, becoming instead a pie crust filled with sweet pear soup. I put it in the fridge when we arrived, but it only congealed slightly. Aargh.

However! Once we had polished off our lovely takeout dinner from Szechuan Bistro (if you’re anywhere near that neighborhood, and you haven’t had their dry-fried string beans with tofu, go get some now), we felt able to face the wreck of the pie. There was vanilla ice cream in the house, so I simply scooped the pie filling out of the shell and dumped it all over ice cream. It tasted wonderful.

But next time? I’ll make sure it stays pie.

Pear custard pie

Pear custard pie

I gave J a bottle of Vin Santo dessert wine last Christmas. I believe we had tried some at a wine tasting not long before, and been rather excited by it. But then the bottle lurked in our cellar all year, waiting for the appropriate occasion. Of late, though, I’ve decided that wine-opening occasions have to be created, not just awaited, so I went searching for possible accompaniments.

We recently bought ourselves a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat, so I looked up Vin Santo. Along with the usual recommendations of biscotti and nut-based desserts, I saw pears. Aha! We are definitely in the heart of fresh pear season around here, so I went digging for a recipe I remembered liking back in the mists of time – a pear custard pie that my mother used to make. She got the recipe at a farmer’s market meeting and then printed it in the Cashmere Valley Record newspaper’s recipe collection. Usually when we eat pears around here we poach them in sugar water and top them with pecans, brandy and sour cream. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that, but pie sounded fun. Continue reading