Two’s a Pear: Sweet and Savory


My husband and I are blessed to have fruit bearing trees in our backyard. On either end of the fence in the far corners of our nearly 2-acre lot, we have a fig tree and a pear tree and have truly enjoyed their bounty this summer. There’s something so gratifying about grabbing a basket from inside and walking out the back door to harvest food you’re going to eat moments later; food you didn’t do anything to earn, just the earth giving of itself.

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Pear picking is nostalgic for me. You could say I’m following in my Grandmother’s footsteps. Growing up, I can remember visiting my Grandma and Grandpa and walking into the kitchen where my Grandma Dot had small glass canning jars and lids lined up along the countertop and the smell of pears and sugar simmering on the stovetop. She too, had a pear tree in her backyard and loved to pick pears. She would pick basketsful, then spend hours making the art of pear preserves for my grandfather to spread on homemade biscuits. She would even give the jars as gifts and I still get excited hearing the seal break on a jar of them today, as I recall the anticipation of that first taste.

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In Georgia, pear season runs from August to early November. You can tell when a pear is ready to be picked when the fruit’s surface changes from hard to firm, about the firmness of a softball. Color is another indication of when to pick: Pears that are ready to be picked are yellow-green with small brown dots. After picking, place the fruit in a bowl or paper bag and let them stand at room temperature until soft and ripe. Once the pears have fully ripened, you can store them in the refrigerator. Here’s a tip: To keep pears from turning brown, be sure to toss them in lemon juice soon after they’re peeled.


Today, I’m sharing a “pear” of recipes, one sweet, one savory, that I know you’ll enjoy. Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese is an ingenious recipe by the great Ina Garten, cookbook author and Food Network personality. Served over peppery arugula, the sweetness of the pears with the tang of the blue cheese and the earthiness of the toasted walnuts combine to offer the most satisfying of salads. What’s great about this recipe is the roasting liquid doubles as the salad dressing. Serve with two pears for a hearty dinner course or one pear for a lighter ladies’ luncheon.

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Now, for the sweet. Pear Crisp is comfort in a bowl, especially when served with cold vanilla ice cream. With its buttery crumb topping and warm, soft filling, the dessert makes your home smell divine. It’s one of the easiest desserts to create with the most time consuming part being the prep work of peeling, coring and slicing the pears. Crisps are so versatile–use any fruit you like, or even a combination, such as apples and pears.

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This article will appear in the Statesboro Herald on Sunday, August 28, 2016.

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Pear Crisp

Pear Crisp
Yields: 8 to 10 servings

 

Filling:

  • 6 large pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Topping:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 8 TBSP (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small bits

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter, oil or cooking spray. To prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, toss together the pears, sugar, and cinnamon. Place in the prepared baking dish.

To make the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Scatter the topping over the surface of the pears.  Bake until light golden brown and the pears have softened, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm with cold vanilla ice cream.

 

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Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese

Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese
Yield:6 servings
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved

Ingredients

 

  • 3 ripe but firm Anjou pears
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 3 ounces coarsely crumbled sharp blue cheese such as Stilton
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons port
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 ounces baby arugula
  • Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel the pears and slice them lengthwise into halves. With a small sharp paring knife and a melon baller, remove the core and seeds from each pear, leaving a round well for the filling. Trim a small slice away from the rounded sides of each pear half so that they will sit in the baking dish without wobbling. Toss the pears with some lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish large enough to hold the pears snugly.

Gently toss the crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries, and walnuts together in a small bowl. Divide the mixture among the pears, mounding it on top of the indentation. In the same small bowl, combine the apple cider, port, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the mixture over and around the pears. Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the cider mixture, for 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside until warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, whisk together the olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the basting liquid in a large bowl. Divide the arugula among 6 plates and top each with a pear half. Drizzle each pear with some of the basting liquid, sprinkle with salt, and serve warm.


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Rebekah-3Let’s work together! Email me
at SKGFoodBlog@gmail.com.

Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC TV’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the program “Statesboro Cooks.” Lingenfelser is a student at the award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk or connect with Rebekah on social media by following Some Kinda Good on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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