February: Poached Pears

One of my favorite winter desserts is poached pears with pound cake. No frosting, just the rich delicate cake and the red colored pears in their syrup. A beautiful presentation on a cake stand with the bowl of pears beside it. I make my own pound cake but if you are in a rush there is always Sara Lee!

Ingredients:

5 lbs of Bosc pears
1 lemon, squeeze for the juice
3 cups of Zinfandel, rosy or red
1.5 cups of sugar
1.5 cups of water
6 black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks

Peal pears and cut into quarters or eighths. Drop in a bowl of water with the lemon juice while you prepare the rest.

Bring the wine, sugar, water, peppercorns and cinnamon to boil in a wide pot.

Let that boil for a few minutes. Drain the pears and add to the boiling liquid. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store the pears in their liquid in a covered bowl in the fridge. They absorb more color as they sit.

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September: Peach Cream Tart

Ingredients:

Butter crust for tart shell –  9 inch

3-4 peaches
.5 cup cream cheese softened
.5 cup ricotta
.25 cup sugar
a few grains of dried organic lavender

1 lemon, rind and juice
3 Tb. sugar for topping
1 egg

Apricot jam and lemon juice

Peach TartRoll out the crust for the tart. Freeze for half an hour. Prick bottom and line with aluminum foil, cover with weights.  Cook at 425 for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove weights and foil and let cool.

Whisk the cream cheese, ricotta and one egg. Blend in the sugar and a few grains of lavender.

Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skin starts to peel.
Remove to cold water bath and peel the peaches. The skins should slip off very easily.
Halve the peaches, remove pit and then cut each half into 6 pieces.

Line the pre-baked crust with the cream cheese mixture. Decoratively place the peach slices on the filling in a concentric pattern, overlapping as you go. When you have done this squeeze the lemon juice over the peaches.

Mix the rind with the 3 Tbl sugar and sprinkle on the peaches.

Bake at 350 for 40 – 50 minutes or until the peaches are bubbly and set.

Let cool.

Cook .5 cup of apricot jam with a little lemon juice to thin it. Let it come to a boil. Strain through a fine sieve. Using a pastry brush carefully spread the thinned jam over the peaches and let set.

I garnished mine with Borage flowers.

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Pear Tarte Tartin

This is a classic recipe usually made with apples. I love it with pears. Sometimes I also add raspberries to the dish.

Ingredients

Pear Tart Tartin BakedFILLING

3 or 4 ripe and flavorful pears. I used Bartletts
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup of white sugar
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
Whipped cream, optional

TARTE TARTIN PASTRY CRUST

1 cup of all purpose flour
.5 tsp salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 – 3 Tablespoons of ice water as needed

One Black Cast Iron Skillet, 10 inch

Prepare the crust: pulse the flour and salt in a Cuisinart with the metal blade. Add the butter and pulse until small pieces form. Add the egg yolk , pulse. Add the water 1 T. at a time until it pulls from the sides of the bowl. Form in to a flat disk and refrigerate for atleast an hour.

When ready to assemble roll the dough out a bit larger than the pan. Flip over the pears and tuck the sides down around the pears.

FILLING

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

Peal and quarter the pears. Sprinkle with the lemon juice to coat. Place the sugar in the pan over a low hear. When some of the sugar starts to melt begin stirring with a wooden spoon until it is all melted and begins to turn a light golden color.

Pear Tart Tartin UnbakedRemove the pan from the heat. Arrange the pears in the pan with the rounded side down. I have messed this up more than once so remember that the pan will be flipped and you want the rounded side up for the final presentation.

Fill the center with a piece of pear and fill in where needed with smaller pieces. Or fill in with fresh raspberries.

Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the pears. Place back on the stove top at medium heat. Cook until the sugar turns a deep caramel color and the juices released from the fruit has nearly evaporate. 15 – 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough and cover the pears, tucking the sides DOWN INTO the pan.

Bake for 25 – 30 minuted or until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a knife run it around the edges of the pan. CAREFULLY place a larger plate over the pan. Using two hands and two pot holders, carefully flip the pan over releasing the tarte on to the platter.

Serve with whipped cream

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