“Vanilla Bean-Pear Ice Cream”

pear ice cream

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.

photo 1

I love this song….”3 Pears” lyrics by Dwight Yoakam

Vanilla Bean-Pear Ice Cream

  • Servings: 6
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  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

A Seasonal, Southern Red Bartlett Pear-Almond Cake (with Grits & Molasses)

Red Bartlett Pears

Three beautifully deep red Bartlett Pears, a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour & a box of yellow grits, a bit of raw sugar & Muddy Pond sorghum molasses collided in my kitchen this afternoon. They did not start out intending to meet. They were all minding their own business sitting quietly on their shelves. It was really all the pears fault. They entered, sitting boldly on the counter, which is where I found them.  Perfectly ripe today, tomorrow they would not be so. The skins, soft and edible, melding with the flesh as I bit into one. They begged to become a cake, nothing fancy, just a simple rustic cake. I agreed.


“A Seasonal Southern Red Bartlett Pear Almond Cake”

Here is what I used:

3 Red Bartlett pears, 1 cup raw sugar, 1 1/2 sticks softened butter, 2 TBSP sorghum molasses, 3 eggs, 2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal Flour, 1/2 cup yellow corn grits, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, homemade “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar” (or store-bought vanilla sugar)  & Powdered Sugar to garnish

Very Vanilla Bean Sugar

Here is how you make it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan.

2. Mix together the almond meal, grits, baking soda & salt. Set aside.

almond meal flour, grits, baking soda & salt

3. Cream sugar, butter & molasses together until fluffy. Beat in vanilla & eggs.  Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients, mixing  just until well blended.

cake batter

4. Scrape batter into the prepared springform pan smoothing the top.

Almond cake batter

5. Cut pears in half & remove cores from each. Cut each half into quarters. Place half of the pear quarters in a circle over the top of the cake batter.  Bake cake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and quickly add another layer of the pears on top of the partially baked cake. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or so. Remove cake from oven and while still hot sprinkle generously with “Very Vanilla Bean Sugar”. Sugar crystals will melt on top of the hot cake.

Pear Almond Cake

Pear Almond CakeA dense, very moist cake with lots of texture and flavor, almost like pear pudding in the middle. To gussy it up serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar.


clean your plate please

Cooling Mint Tea for Hot Summer Days…E.A.T. #8

Mint Tea

“Fresh Mint Tea”

Isn’t it odd how sometimes you have to get outside your everyday life to become aware of the most obvious things? Does this happen to you?

Fresh mint stepped in hot water, sometimes called a tisane, is a North African drink that is served in most sidewalk cafes and restaurants in Amsterdam. On our recent trip I sipped this caffeine free hot drink and mused on why I had never made this very refreshing and cooling drink at home. Mint has a naturally sweet flavor with a cooling after-sensation which makes it the  perfect drink for these hot summer days.

All you need is fresh mint leaves, boiling hot water and if you like, a sweetener. I used some of my homemade Vanilla Sugar. It is just as “Easy As This”.

Gather fresh mint. I cut fresh Pineapple mint, Spearmint & Peppermint from my backyard. Mint from the grocery or farmer’s market is fine too. Rinse & dry the leaves.


Heat water in the kettle. Stuff a handful of mint leaves down into each cup.

Mint Tea Making

Pour boiling water over mint leaves. Let steep for about 1 minute.

Hot water over mint

Stir in vanilla sugar to taste if desired. Honey, Agave nectar or any other of your favorite sweeteners.

Mint Tea with Vanilla Sugar

Mint Tea

Try my easy “Mint Sun Tea” for drinking iced. Stuff fresh mint leaves down into a glass container. Fill with water. Sit container in the sun for a few hours so that mint leaves can steep and release their flavors into the water as it warms.

Mint Sun Tea

Pour over ice, add sugar to taste if you like and fresh lemon.

Iced Mint Tea

Mint is vigorously easy to grow. If you do not have a garden or yard, just plant some in a pot and place in a windowsill or on a patio.

Drink your Mint and stay cool.