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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Rhubarb Galette

Rhubarb GaletteI had this crust in the freezer and some rhubarb that I wanted to use up. Yes you can freeze pie crusts to have on hand.  This one is especially good to use with rhubarb as the rhubarb is so tart.

Cookie Dough Crust

.5 lb. butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter  in a standing mixer. Add the sugar and cream again. Add the egg, beat well and then add the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture. Stir until blended.

Remove and pat into a small round. Wrap in waxed paper or saran and refrigerate for 1 hour.
When ready to make the Galette, roll out to 13 – 14 inches and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Filling

1 lb. of rhubarb cut into approximately 3 inch pieces.
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
1/3- 1/2 cup of sugar
2 Tbs. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Break the whole egg into a bowl. With a pastry brush, brush the pie crust with the white of the egg. Let it dry.

Wash and dry the rhubarb and cut into 3 inch lengths. In a large bowl toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of sugar. DO NOT LET IT SIT as that will cause the rhubarb to release its juices.

Immediately arrange in whatever pattern you like on the crust leaving 2 inches on the outside for the overhang. Top with the rest of the sugar. Fold the outside over the rhubarb and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

While this is baking beat the rest of the egg, white and yolk. Add 1/3 cup of sugar or more if you like with the egg and 2 Tbs. of heavy cream. This will make a very thick mixture.

Turn the oven down to 350. Pull the tart out of the oven. Brush or pour at least half or more of the mixture over the rhubarb. Return to the oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush some of the remaining mixture over the outside crust. Return to the oven for 10 minutes or until set.  When set remove from the oven and let cool.

Serve with Vanilla ice cream.

There will be more of this mix than you need. You can save it to use for your French Toast batter.

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