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.
Here….have a bite of this just out-of-the-oven warm pear clafoutis…with a cup of tea or coffee or maybe a small glass of champagne? It’s very simple and sophisticated at the same time. For dessert or breakfast, or maybe just for lunch? Clafoutis is a baked French dessert with a flan-like custard and is traditionally made with cherries, but peaches, pears, apples and most berries are tasty as well. You only live once so make all your bites special and delicious.
The past few weeks…really the past few months….or maybe even years I have approached my little food blog at times with doubt and uneasiness. Not because I have lost my love of cooking, nor my love of taking photographs of my results, but because so much of the friggin’ world has been turned on it’s head by malevolent politicians…the U.S. President in particular. The vile nature of the daily bombardment of not-well-chosen words by him has left me feeling helpless.Chattering away about food and recipes sometimes seems shallow and useless. Daily I have to remind myself to look at the good, the positive, the thoughtful and kind nature of life around me. So, this is what I am doing. It’s not so hard, but it does takes some mindfulness and intent. Cooking and blogging and reaching out via my blog is one of my mental “safety-nets”. We all need one….what’s yours? I would love to hear from you about this while your clafoutis is in the oven.
There are few recipes easier than this one. Ingredients, except for the fruit, get mixed together in the blender. Fruit gets sliced. Everything goes into a skillet or baking dish. Then baked. It is totally as easy-as-that.
Don’t forget what is important and beautiful in this crazy old world and do what you can to make it sane and delicious.
Oh Comfort Me, Winter Pear Clafoutis
- 2 ripe, but firm pears, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon softened butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup granulated or raw sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- powdered sugar for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Smear softened butter over the bottom and up sides of a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet or baking dish.
- Add milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt and flour to a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Gently top with pear slices. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffed and golden brown on top and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar if you like. Great with a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of bubbly.
Note: This clafoutis is also great cold the next day.
Weather Report – Nashville Tennessee, October 1, 2019, 5:33pm, 100 degrees.
This very quick fall pear treat, unless you call using a toaster cooking, could just as easily be eaten for breakfast, lunch or a snack. It’s just so good and uses very little energy. You will no doubt come up with your own variations using other fruit without breaking a sweat.
A loaf of good crusty bread, sliced and toasted. Topped with a smear of ricotta cheese or mascarpone and thin pear slices, a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of sea salt or sugar and almonds are all you need.
Stay cool in all ways.
It is still extremely hot here in Nashville..call it Climate Change. You would pretty much have to be living under a bushel basket to not have caught on to this. It’s science, it’s real and it’s with us right now. Think about it, read about it, talk amongst your family and friends about it. If you know a farmer or two, ask them what they think. How is climate change affecting them?
While I was making this very simple dessert, I was thinking about the future and food. These pears are as good as any I have ever tasted. Will they always be readily available? Will they be “special” and only for a select group of people in the future? I do not have the answer, but I do know that good, healthy, fresh foods can nourish both the body and mind. A delicious pear is one of those things.
No peeling necessary! Cut in half and the center scooped out with a melon-baller and then drizzled with raw sugar, lemon-flavored olive oil and honey-balsamic vinegar…ready for the oven.
15 minutes later…roasted and caramelized and ready to eat. Quick and easy….now turn off that oven…it’s hot out there!
You can find more easy pear recipes here: Aromatic Roasted Pears and Plums with Star Anise, Vanilla, Balsamic and Maple Syrup E.A.T #34 ; Cream Baked Cardamom-Vanilla Bean Pears and Pear, Maple and Nutmeg Cornmeal Cake + Kitchen Tools #1
Honey-Balsamic Roasted Pears
- 2 firm, but ripe pears, cut in half and core scooped out
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar
- 1/4 cup citrus flavored olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey-balsamic vinegar (you can make your own by whisking together honey and balsamic vinegar until emulsified)
- Ice Cream for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Roast pear halves, cut side up, for 12-15 minutes or until caramelized and a little charred on the edges. Remove from oven. Let cool in pan for a few minutes.
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle any “pan drippings” over dessert.
Note: I choose pears with the stems still attached when I find them. I like how the stems look so much.
Our pear tree produced its fruit earlier than usual this summer. The pears smallish and hard. Not good for eating out-of-hand, but good for cooking. Over the years I have made many yummy desserts using the bounty of this tree. It is rather a small tree. Some years very laden with fruit, others not. Truly I wasn’t really ready to deal with them this summer. I was so busy working on photo shoots that I did not even notice for a while. The birds and squirrels ate their fair share. That’s okay with me. We got our share as well.
This, of all my pear recipes, is the most simple and perhaps one of my favorites. Cut in half and cored, drizzled with maple syrup and sea salt and slow-roasted until fork-tender.
Served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Pear perfect.
Slow Roasted Pears with Maple Syrup and Sea Salt
- Small somewhat hard pears, cut in half & cored, peeled or not
- real maple syrup
- flaky sea salt such as Maldon
- Ice cream to serve
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place prepped pears on a parchment lined sheet pan cut side up.
- Drizzle generously with maple syrup. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Roast for about 30-40 minutes until pears are fork tender. Remove from oven.
- Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.
Note: If you have any leftovers you can freeze to use later in a simple cake.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
The branches of our “accidental pear tree”, which in this year of good rains & sunny days, are heavy with lovely ripe fruit. This tree began as a small patio tree living for one year in a pot, then after an especially hard winter it seemed dead. In a last-ditch attempt to keep it alive Wouter planted it along the alleyway outside our back fence. Needless to say our tree has flourished by “accident”…no attention paid to it, no regular watering, left to fend on its’ own it has grown into a tall, many branched lovely Seckel Pear tree. Beautiful, smooth skinned & naturally sweet.
And…..all ripe at once! Earlier than usual. What to do? Give some away of course..eat many right off the tree…I will make some pear preserves later this week. Have you ever had Pear Ice Cream?
“Vanilla Bean-Pear Ice Cream”
For this creamy, easy-to-make ice cream I used 5 very ripe pears, the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean and sweetened with some homemade Vanilla Bean Sugar (I shared this recipe along with how to make other aromatic sugars here.)
Instead of coring the pears first I just peel them and cut the fruit away from the core & chop. Much easier this way. Orange zest really livens up the taste. Adding vanilla bean seeds and vanilla sugar added an extra flavor layer. Instead of using all cream, half cream and half whole milk lightened things up a bit.
Using my trusty Cuisinart electric ice cream freezer within 20 minutes it was ready. You can eat immediately as a softer-serve or keep in the refrigerator freezer for a more hard-frozen version.
Pretty bowl of Pears.
I love this song….”3 Pears” lyrics by Dwight Yoakam
Vanilla Bean-Pear Ice Cream
- 1 cup each – cold milk & cold heavy cream
- 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (see below for how to make your own)
- 1 vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped out
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 TBSP orange zest
- 5 small ripe pears, peeled, cored & chopped
- In a glass pitcher whisk together cold milk & cream, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean seeds, pinch of salt & orange zest. Whisk until the sugar has almost dissolved.
- Pour milk-cream mixture into an electric ice cream freezer & process according to the machine directions. Halfway through the freezing process, add the chopped fresh pears & continue to process until mixture is frozen.
- Store pear ice cream in your refrigerator freezer until ready to serve. If you serve immediately you will have a softer serve ice cream.
Note on how to make Vanilla Sugar:
Place 2 cups of white or raw sugar in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Split two vanilla beans with a knife & put in the jar with the sugar. Add lid and shake jar a few time. Store for 2 weeks before using. When your jar of sugar gets low, just add some more to the vanilla beans in the jar.
Recipe by Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com foodonfifth.com