Thursday, November 1, 2007

Fall Pear Craze

I have looked at some wonderful blog sites over the past several days and what I have found is that I am missing out on a whole world (literally) of talented people who have the same passion for great food that surpasses in flavor! What I really enjoy is how many different ways there are to look at food. I feel inspired and ready to jump into new flavors. By the way, for anyone reading this. . .I can not believe the pictures and recipes that combine technology and passion with the concept of food to the point where I feel I could reach into the monitor to touch and smell the wonderous array emitted from the beautiful pictures! Great people and great food! The two things that really bring happiness and warmth into a home.

Pears! Pears! Pears! I love pears but whenever I want a Bosc or Anjou Pear, which is what I have available in the close vicinity, the fruit is rock hard. Looks beautiful but I want to sink my teeth into the creamy flesh of a perfectly ripe fruit. . .*not* chip my way in. Hhmph! I learned to can my own pears this last summer, and boy am I proud of those pretty white jars, but sometimes I want the whole fruit to eat and I do not want to wait the day or two by putting the pear in a paper bag to rush ripen it! How many people do you know that crave something and say "oh, I'll just wait till the day after tomorrow to eat it? No biggie." Well, it is a biggie and by the time the day after tomorrow comes, the craving has past and I have forgotten about my pear. 4 days later, the pear is a hurting puppy! Well, I have decided on how to get around this little adventure. I now have ideas put into words and on a blog to refer back to when just this incident happens in the future. I absolutely love these three recipes that were just now made. The flavors and colors made me feel good about myself because the food was fresh, healthy and delicious. . . .uhmmm, most of it anyways =D

Dinner Menu:

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Pear, Bell Pepper and Cilantro Salsa

Pear Crustade with Lemon Pastry and Almonds

Pear, Bell Pepper and Cilantro Salsa

2 firm but ripe Anjou or Bosc pears (about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 c. finely diced seeded red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
1/2 c. finely chopped red onion
1/4 c. finely chopped seeded jalapeno chiles (about 2 medium chiles)
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Mix all ingredients exept cilantro in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir in cilantro.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Pear Sauce

3 Skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds total), halved horizontally
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. (1/4 stick) butter, divided
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 c. low-salt chicken broth
2/3 c. pear nectar
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. fresh lemon juice

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in wide, shallow bowl. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Place on a baking sheet.

Melt 1 Tablespoon butter with 1 Tablespoon oil in a heavy, large skillet over high heat. Add 3 chicken breast pieces to skillet and cook until brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add remaining 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon oil to skillet and cook remaining chicken. Transfer to plate; tent chicken with foil to keep warm. Add broth to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. Stir in pear nectar, mustard and lemon juice. Boil until thick enough to coat spoon, about 4 minutes. I will add about a teaspoon of flour to a little water to make a liquidy paste and add this as a thickener but only if you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place 1 chicken breast piece on each plate. Spoon sauce over the breast. Divide salsa among the plates. Enjoy! =D

Pear Crostade with Lemon Pastry and Almonds


1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar

1 t. finely grated lemon peel

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 c. (or more) whipping cream


1 lbs firm but ripe Barlett pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 lbs firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

5 T. sugar

1 T. plus 2 t. all-purpose flour

2 t. fresh lemon juice

1 t. finely grated lemon peel

1/4 t. (generous) ground nutmeg

Whipping cream for brushing

2 T. sliced almonds

Vanilla Ice cream (optional)


For Pastry:

Whisk flour, sugar, lemon peel and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; using fingertips or pastry cutter, rub or cut in butter until coarse meal forms. Drizzle 1/4 c. cream over all; toss with fork until moist clumps form, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls as needed if dry. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. This dough can also be chilled over night.

For filling:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all pears, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon peel and nutmeg in large bowl to coat. Roll out pastry on sheet of floured parchment paper to 14-inch round. Transfer crust on parchment paper to baking sheet. Mound pears in center of pastry, leaving 2-inch plain border. Fold pastry border over pears, crimping slightly. Brush pastry edges with cream; sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake croustade until filling bubbles and almonds are lightly toasted, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Serve croustade warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if you like. . .which I do! =D

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