Fresh pears in a brown sugared-whole wheat crust, baked until caramelized with just a splash of dark rum and a hint of cardamom might provide some comfort and solace for this week in winter, January 2021. The kitchen is where I find I can take a deep breath and bring forth something delicious and comforting. That is a good thing and I need that right now.
Fresh USA Pears from The Fruit Company, ripened to perfection, golden and red and juicy, sliced and wrapped in a buttery cardamom crust.
A “Pear, Brown Sugar, Rum and Cardamom Galette” with caramelized edges to die for.
Seek solace where you can find it. Be well. Be kind.
Pears, Brown Sugar, Rum and Cardamom Scented Galette
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 sticks/1/2 cup chilled butter, but into small pieces
- 1 egg
- 1 to 2 teaspoons milk
- 2 large, ripe, but somewhat firm pears – cored, cut in half and thinly sliced, keeping slices together
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cream to brush edges of crust
- 1-2 tablespoons raw or Demerara sugar for sprinkling
- In a food processor combine whole wheat flour, granulated sugar, salt and cardamom. Pulse to mix. Add butter pieces and process until mixture is crumbly looking. Add egg and 1 teaspoon milk to processor and pulse until a dough forms. Add more milk if needed. Dough will be a bit moist.
- Form dough into a ball, press out flat into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let dough sit out for 10 minutes.
- Mix together cornstarch, brown sugar, rum and vanilla extract until well blended.
- On floured surface roll dough disc out to make a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Edges will be jagged and that is okay. Place dough on parchment paper lined sheet pan. Gently place sliced pear halves, cut side down, on dough circle nestling them close together, leaving an edge of dough all around to fold over fruit. Fold dough edges up and over the sliced pears, leaving the center open.
- Drizzle cornstarch mixture over and down between the pears. Brush edges of the crust with the cream and sprinkle the raw sugar over all.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes or until galette is golden brown and bubbly. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve in wedges. Great with whipped or ice cream.
Spontaneous soups are often the best. What to have for lunch? Something cozy, delicious and quick. Yellow lentils, a package of Mahatma yellow rice with seasonings and a couple of golden beets in the fridge drawer and some chicken broth…30 minutes later and we were enjoying lovely, warm and steamy bowls of “Golden Soup”. So very “easy-as-this”.
In my early cooking days one of the most exotic items available in local groceries was Mahatma seasoned rice. There were no local import groceries, nor International aisles in supermarkets. There was little to be had from other cultures in the way of food….I thought a package of yellow seasoned rice was “it”. To this day a few packages reside alongside lots of other aromatic and culturally-dense rice in my pantry. No rice shaming please. Thank you.
Saltines and a heavy-handed splash of Cholula…lunch is ready. Be well. Do the right thing. Wear your mask. It can be as “easy-as-that”.
Golden Soup - Lentils, Rice and Beets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup yellow lentils
- One 5 oz. package yellow rice with seasonings (like Mahatma brand)
- 2 small, or one large yellow beet, peeled and thinly sliced, then chopped
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups chicken broth (or veg)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or Italian seasoning
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To Serve: Saltines and hot sauce, like Cholula
- Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until slightly softened. Turn heat to medium.
- Add in lentils, rice packet, beets and stir well. Pour in water, broth and herbs, a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil.
- Turn heat to low and cook for 30 minutes or until beets are just softened. Add more broth or water if soup gets too thick. Taste, adjust seasonings if need be. Serve with crisp saltines and a splash of hot sauce if you like.
The whole Holiday “thing” this year is a mind bender for sure. No large gatherings, nor small for that matter. None of the Christmas Eve dinner parties…nada! This is not to say that the joy of making and gifting has to be put on hold. We just have to be a bit more creative and in doing so perhaps new traditions will be born.
It is pretty redundant to say that Tennessee has some great whiskey producers. Through my friend Nancy, I discovered one that is deliciously perfect for my Holiday homemade gift this year. Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey infused with some of the best pears I have ever eaten from The Fruit Company in Hood River, Oregon sent to me by USA Pears, and 24 to 36 hours of time is all it takes and this already great sipping whiskey is even better.
I made a pear galette with some of the pears (that post will be soon) and added the cores and a few leftover pieces of the pears along with citrus peel to the whiskey in a glass jar.
24 hours later ready to be strained and decanted and sipped and gifted.
A splash of simple syrup topped with a bit of pear whiskey over ice and garnished with a thin pear slice….or just a wee glass while waiting for Santa for some new and soothing Holiday traditions.
Pear Infused Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
- Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Hand Made Sour Mash Whiskey (or other favorite) 750ml
- 2 Chopped up fresh pears, including peel and cores
- peel of one orange
- peel of one lemon
- Pour whiskey into a large glass jar.
- Add all fruit/citrus. Cover jar.
- Leave sitting for 24 to 36 hours for infusing.
- Strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth into a pitcher. Decant into smaller individual bottles with a tight-fitting lid for gifting.
For a quick cocktail: Over ice in a glass pour a splash of simple syrup and pear infused whiskey, garnish with a thin slice of ripe pear and enjoy.
Celebrate Small might be a good motto for Holidays 2020. A plump roasting hen pulled from the freezer, or bought fresh, along with a handful of fresh herbs is a good starting place. I added cut up oranges, plums and potatoes in their skins to the pan.
Don’t be so hard on yourself this season. Take a deep breath. A one-pan dinner popped into the oven until it’s ready helps make life a little bit easier. Some days I feel I’m doing good to complete this sort of small task, but eat we must even as the world is whirling out-of-control around us. Take a quick walk around your neighborhood while your bird is roasting. Being active makes most things better. A cozy dinner helps as well.
Serve roasted potatoes and fruit in a bowl with lots of the pan juices. You might think leaving the rind on the citrus is a no no, or combining them with new potatoes along with plums and lots of fresh thyme might be odd, but when they roast together with the hen in the pan juices they are simply delicious.
I’ve always preferred a roasting hen to a turkey. They don’t take so long to cook, they stay juicier. I roast hens throughout the year always keeping one in my freezer. I buy local hens, grain fed and usually about 4 to 5 lbs for celebrations. Smaller sizes for everyday.
Thank you for voting for Biden-Harris. Celebrate Small. Take care, wear your masks and be well.
Thyme Roasted Hen with Plums, Citrus and New Potatoes
- One 4-5 lb roasting hen, rinsed & patted dry
- 3 lbs new potatoes, cut in half or quarters
- 6 plums, seeded and cut into quarters
- 2 oranges, rind left on, cut into thick slices
- a large handful of fresh thyme, divided
- Olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place roasting hen on a flat work surface and pat skin dry a second time. Rub skin all over with olive oil. Generously rub in 2 tablespoons of the fresh thyme leaves. Place hen in a large heavy pan. I used a 12 inch cast iron, but any large pan with do. Season bird with salt and black pepper.
- Roast the bird for about 40 minutes then add the new potatoes, plums and oranges to the pan. Pour in chicken broth. Continue to roast until the a meat thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the bird reads 160 degrees, another 30-40 minutes. You want the skin to be crisp and dark golden brown. Serve roasted hen cut into pieces with potatoes & fruit on the side. A chilled wine and a baguette for sopping up the juices on your plate is all you need.
Teresa Blackburn Food Styling
Cobblers are great desserts for any time of the year. They can be somewhat tricky…very easy, but tricky. I am totally turned off if I take a bite of cobbler and find some crust inside that is wet, doughy and sometimes not really cooked. The fruit can be delicious, the spices genius, but if the crust is not crisp then I do not want another bite.
Needless to say, as a Southerner, I have had my share of cobblers and I have had my share of not very good ones. I got this idea from a recipe in the cookbook “Cherry Bombe”. I changed and tweaked and this exceptionally crisp crust cobbler is what I came up with. It is as easy-as-this.
A pint of fresh berries and 8-10 apricots or plums or pluots, lemon infused olive oil, aromatic raw vanilla sugar (more on aromatic sugars here) and your favorite pie crust recipe are the basics.
Fruit not-overly-cooked with a little cornstarch and raw vanilla sugar.
Rolled out crust, randomly cut with a fluted pie cutter..I really like using the one with zig-zag edges. Brushed with olive oil and a generous scattering of sugar. Baked until golden brown.
Crust pulled apart. Fruit and crisp crust layered in baking dish. Cook time is minimal…about 15 minutes because each element is already cooked.
Crunch, crispiness, fruit and a little scoop of ice cream. Not a soggy bite to be had. Life is hard, make it easy on yourself when you can. Be safe, be well. Take care.
VOTE BIDEN-HARRIS, PLEASE, FOR ALL THINGS GOOD IN THIS WORLD.
Crisp Crust Deconstructed Fruit Cobbler
- one 9 inch pie crust dough – your favorite recipe or refrigerator crust works fine
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, I used a lemon infused oil, but any will do
- 1/2 cup homemade vanilla sugar, or raw sugar + 3 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 pint of fresh berries, blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
- 8-10 fresh apricots, pitted and thickly sliced, or peaches fresh or frozen
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- a few tablespoon water
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the pie dough out on the parchment. Brush with olive oil and dust with the 3 tablespoons sugar. Use a fluted pastry wheel, or a knife, and cut the dough into random shapes. Pull cut pieces apart just a bit and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Stir together the 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the fruit, add lemon juice and water and toss to coat. Heat until fruit just begins to bubble. Turn to simmer and stir continuously for about 5 minutes or until mix is slightly thickened but still juicy.
- Butter a smallish baking dish with butter. Scrape half the fruit mixture into the baking dish. Top with half the baked crust pieces. Add remaining fruit and top with remaining. crust pieces.
- Place in oven and bake just until heated and bubbly. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a really easy treat.
Recipe adapted from “Cherry Bombe – The Cookbook” published by Potter
Just a Google away you can find all about the birth, life and death of John R. Lewis. Just a Google away you can sift through the important facts, as well as the minutiae. Just a Google away you can see movies of marches, videos of beatings, hear his speeches and we can learn what it meant to be such a man. We should all be grateful.
There was a proposal recently in Nashville to rename 5th Avenue North to Rep. John R. Lewis Way. From the first I, and many of my neighbors who are lucky enough to live on this street, were pretty thrilled about this proposal. We felt proud. While some of us celebrated, the proposal quickly became a “bone of contention” for others in the neighborhood. I am still thinking on this. Why anyone would be against this street renaming other than a few “inconveniences” is fraught with anxiety about where I live and what this all says about my neighborhood. Could people possibly be worried about property values going down, is it because Mr. Lewis was black, does it remind others about our very checkered history with racism right here in Nashville. I would rather not have to think on this, but I find I need to. Our neighborhood association board voted against the name change. It seems that our street will partially be renamed, but not all of it, and for that I am disappointed in us as citizens.
Just a Google away you will find that John R. Lewis went to college in Nashville. Much of Nashville was a pivotal location in the Civil Rights Movement, with Lewis leading successful sit-ins at then segregated lunch counters on 5th Avenue North. Some against the renaming of our street to honor John R. Lewis said “we should do more”, I say what could be more long lasting and visible than driving down Rep. John R. Lewis Way every day coming and going, reminding us of him and his goodness. I would have been proud.
Just a Google away I also discovered that one of John R. Lewis’s favorite foods was “Sweet Potato Pie”. So today, in honor of the most honorable of men, I will share with you one of my favorite sweet potato pie recipes from chef and author, Edna Lewis (no relation to John R. Lewis). It is one fine pie. Make your own “Food-for-Thought Sweet Potato Pie”, slice it and share it, take a bite, and remember.
We must take comfort in the small things. Say their names. BLM.
Food for Thought Sweet Potato Pie
- 2 cups fresh cooked sweet potato pulp, well mashed (Edna Lewis says “sieved” which I did not do)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 (small) eggs, separated (I used large and recipe worked great)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup melted butter
- 1 and 2/3 cups (whole) milk (I used half & half)
- Two unbaked pie shells (I used refrigerator pastry, you can make your own as well)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat egg whites until frothy.
- Put all other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and pour into a bowl. (This is how I “sieved” the sweet potatoes.)
- Fold frothy egg whites into the sweet potato mixture. Pour into pie shells and bake for 40-50 minutes until set. (Cover loosely with foil if crust starts to get too brown.)
- Cool 30 minutes before cutting.
My Note: I had never been a big fan of sweet potato pie as most I have eaten have been dense and cold. This pie has a light, airy, almost soufflé quality. It must be the addition of the frothy egg whites. Either way, eaten while warm is a pretty divine culinary experience.
Original recipe by: Edna Lewis, Chef and Author
I wrote this “ode” to Summer and Crowder Peas a few years ago…seems like a lifetime these days…2017. I was pretty pleased that one of the images was chosen for the July-August 2020 “Edible Nashville” magazine cover. It is an image that means a lot to me as it tells one of my little life stories of summer and family and how I try to continue to keep some of the strings of my current life tied to my past.
Learning how to be alone and be a part of the process of living at the same time is pretty much a full time job these days. So, I am re-sharing this post in hopes that you will share what you are doing with me during this “summer of our discontent”. Thank you Jill at Edible Nashville for reminding me of some of the good things.
I love to shell peas. It’s very relaxing and meditative. Repetitive chores can be like that. I used to shell peas with my Grandmother sitting on the back porch on scorching summer days. It’s so easy to forget the small things we love to do isn’t it? Every summer I purchase some fresh peas to shell. It’s not something I share with anyone else as it is my time alone to think about things while gently sliding my fingernail down the length of each shell to open it up to reveal the soft, light green pea nestled inside.
Beautiful shells with all their shades of purple and brown. The peas are ready to be simmered in a bit of water with some salt & pepper and a generous pat of butter. I always freeze some for winter soups.
Here’s a link to a pretty delicious salad I made last summer using Crowder peas. (Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad with Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes & Cucumbers
Stay Cool. Shell some peas. Peace. Wear your Mask. Say Their Names. Vote
This pie is not perfect. I am not a fan of perfect, but a lover of the wonderful imperfections that make up all of the things I consider beautiful. I learned many years ago this is what is known as wabi-sabi. I have always been this way and really do not have much patience with folks who like “everything just perfect”. Years ago I did not know it was a real thing, a traditional Japanese aesthetic. Wabi loosely means rustic simplicity, a beauty that is neither permanent nor complete. Sabi is to take pleasure in the imperfect. This is my Wabi Sabi Peach Pie, my favorite kind!
This pie is made using store-bought pie crusts with a scattering of freshly grated nutmeg on the bottom, fresh peaches, a splash of Lillet Blanc Dessert Wine and Hibiscus Vinegar, granulated cane sugar tossed with a bit of cornstarch, fresh lemon zest and juice. That’s all.
Refrigerator pie crusts have gotten a bad rap. They are quick and easy and can be gussied up with herbs and spices. They always stay crispy, even the bottom crust and the flakiness is just great. I keep them on hand in my freezer as a pantry staple, especially in the summer for quick pies and cobblers.
Fresh nutmeg grated over the bottom crust.
Spring-form pans are my favorite “pie pans”. You can remove the sides of the pan for easy slicing. I cut the top crust into strips with a fluted pastry cutter and then placed the strips over the filling in a loose concentric circle pattern. A dusting of sugar and this pie was ready for the oven.
I love all the crispy, crusty edges, no sogginess and perfectly imperfect.
Warm pie, cold ice cream. The “wabi” and the “sabi”.
Wabi Sabi Peach Pie
- 6-8 fresh ripe peaches, peeled & sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 cup Lillet Blanc Dessert Wine (or any white dessert wine)
- 1/4 cup Hisbiscus Vinegar (or you can use pomegranate or cherry or apple)
- 1 cup granulated cane sugar + extra for topping
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (or 1/4 ground)
- 1 box (2 crusts) store-bought pie crusts (or enough homemade pie crust for top and bottom crust)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove one pie crust from packaging and place on lightly floured surface. Give it a few rolls with a rolling pin. Place in the bottom of a spring-form pan fitting it into the bottom and partially up the sides. Don’t worry if crust edges are not even.
- Scatter nutmeg over the bottom crust.
- Remove second crust from packaging and give it a few rolls with the rolling pin as well. Using a crimped pastry cutter cut into strips.
- In a bowl toss together the peaches, lemon juice and zest, Lillet and hibiscus vinegar.
- In another bowl toss together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add this to the peaches and toss well.
- Fill bottom crust with the peach filling.
- Arrange strips of crust over the top of the filling in a loose concentric circle. Strips can overlap to cover the pie. Sprinkle extra sugar over crust.
- Place filled springform pan on a sheet pan and place in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes or until pie crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove pie from oven and place on a cooling rack. After about 20 minutes. remove the springform sides and continue cooling. Pie is wonderful sliced while warm and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Summer memories of childhood can be real, or imaginary, but most likely a combination of both. My paternal grandmother was a big part of my early life in West Tennessee as I have mentioned in other posts over the years. She was a very good cook, a gardener, she kept chickens for eggs and for Sunday dinners. She picked berries in the summer to make jams and jellies. She sewed and loved to sit on the porch in the summer shade shelling peas and talking about her life.
She was not a formally educated woman, but was a country woman of her time who knew how to do things and I learned a lot from her including how to make one of my favorite summer spreads which she called “minnow cheese”. As in “would you like a minnow cheese sandwich for lunch”? The silly play on words always delighted me.
I cannot remember what kind of cheese she used, but I make my “minnow cheese” with a sharp or medium white cheddar hand grated for better texture. A small jar of chopped pimientos to about 3 cups of shredded cheese is just about right. Pimiento cheese sandwiches are iconic in the South. Every family had their own recipe or variation on this cheesy spread.
A splash of pickle juice, chopped fresh dill from our little garden, freshly ground Organic Flower Pepper (thank you forever Jesse Goldstein), and a generous spoonful or two of Duke’s mayo. That is all you need to make this summer classic. We like it spread thickly on slices of Dozens Bakery Harvest Rye Bread lightly toasted with a few leaves of crisp lettuce. It is also delicious as my grandmother served it on thick white bread slices plain and simple.
Biting into one of my Grandmother’s sandwiches of minnow cheese is a very real summer memory. It is a memory that comforts me in these very not-so-comforting times. Do you have special memories of summer foods from your childhood? Have you been cooking more comfort foods lately? What are they?
Here you go…..have a bite. Here is a link to another Pimento Cheese post I did a few years ago.