Oh Comfort Me, Winter Pear Clafoutis E.A.T. #42

 

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Smear softened butter over the bottom and up sides of a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet or baking dish.
  3. Add milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt and flour to a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

teresablackburnfoodstyling.com     foodonfifth.com

 

 

A Winter Dessert, Deep Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

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The light goes early this late November. I catch the last few minutes as my tart comes out of the oven. Dark, deeper colors as the sun sets casting a winter mood.

Deep dark chocolate….ground almonds…6 ripe, yet firm fall pears. Strong and delicate flavors melded to become something magical in the waning light.

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Small Seckel Pears, sometimes called “sugar pears” due to their sweetness. are the perfect fit for this recipe. Pears are very abundant in markets these days with a great variety on offer.

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Carefully cored and peeled,  I used the stems to add a bit of style.  I love the way they look when baked on top of each little pear.

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Before and after baking….

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…up close, ready to slice and eat.

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Yum and yum.

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A Winter Dessert, Deep, Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened + extra for brushing on tart pan
  • 6 firm, yet ripe Seckel Pears, cored, peeled, saving stems
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, whole or slivered
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemons zest
  • powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush tart pan sides and bottom with softened butter.
  3. Toss prepped pears with the lemon juice
  4. Process sugar and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and almond extracts, salt and zest until combined into a thick batter. Scrape batter into the tart pan and spread out evenly.
  5. Gently press pears into the batter around the edge of the pan evenly spaced. Insert the stems down into the pears. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake tart until puffy, for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out with a few wet crumbs attached. Take care to not overbake. Cool tart on a wire rack.
  7. Serve dusted with powdered sugar if desired.

Snow Storm Sweets, Sweden & Slater

Inspiration can come from many places, both expected & unexpected. Much of my inspiration this winter in regards to food has come from  the unusually large number of snow storms we have had, the book “NOMA – Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine”, and the cooking books “Tender” by Britain’s food writer, Nigel Slater & February 14th!

” Snow Storm Desserts for Friends and Lovers”

“blackberry snow-granita”

…a very beautiful color, texture & taste

Recipe: In food processor mix together 1 pint of blackberries &  1 cup caster or powdered sugar. Pulse until well blended.  Scoop up one large bowl of freshly fallen snow. Pour blackberry-sugar mixture over snow and mix together until well blended. Mixture will be grainy looking. Eat immediately or store in freezer in air-tight container until ready to eat.

“very, very vanilla snow cream”

…a lovely creamy & softly grainy vanilla cream.

To Make: Whisk together in a large bowl 2 tbsp vanilla paste, 3/4 to 1 cup caster or powdered sugar &  1/2 cup cold whipping cream. Add bowl of fresh snow and quickly, but thoroughly,  mix together with a whisk or wooden spoon. Mixture should be a bit creamy. Taste & adjust flavorings. Eat immediately or pack mixture into a container with a tight lid and freeze until ready to eat.

To Serve: Plain or with a  chewy chocolate brownie & berries

The common thread between our Tennessee snow storms, the book on Nordic cuisine & Nigel Slater’s books “Tender” is that each one has given me some beautifully inspiring images & ideas about winter foods & cold beauty.

Image: “Snowman” from “NOMA – Time & Place in Nordic Cuisine”, Author Rene Redzpl, Phaidon Press

Image: “Parsnips” from “Tender/Volume 1”, Author Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate Press

Image: “Bowl Impression in Snow”, 2/10/11 Nashville, TN

Image: “Blueberries in Snow Bowl”, 2/10/11 Nashville, TN

Image: Stack of Candies, 2/4/11

… keep it simple, be sweet & stay cozy….

“The Last Pear(s)”

“after the fall”

I was told by a friend, Abby,  recently,  “You have this thing about pears” and it is true…I love the juicy taste, the sexy shape, the variety of colors & textures, how they work with both sweet and savory recipes…they complement, they enhance and they stand alone beautifully. It is mid-November, Winter in Nashville and I just picked the last pears from a tree on my street. Many from this tree have been food for the birds, many have fallen on the ground to beautifully rot, but I have the last of the edible pears and that is all there will be for this year.

“Dried Pears for Winter Dishes”

1. Wash & dry pears. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set oven temperature to 200 degrees.

2. Cut whole pears, stems, core and all into thin slices using a “mandolin” or sharp knife. I used one of my three mandolins to slice these pears for drying. This one is the most simple and inexpensive one I own, but works the best. You can pick up a mandolin at most shops that sell cooking supplies.

3. Lay thin pear slices out flat on parchment paper.

4. As you can see I put multiple trays of pears to dry in my oven at the same time by stacking them askew so the air could circulate throughout all the trays during the drying time. Turn your oven timer to 7 or 8 hours and walk away. During this drying time you might want to check pears, turning them over once. This is not necessary, but something I like to do. After this day of drying, check pears, if not dried out completely then leave in the oven for an hour or so more. Whether you have a dry day or rainy day will often affect the pears so keep this in mind. When pears are dried enough I just turn the oven off, leaving pears inside while oven is cooling down.

….perfectly dried pears…

5. Store dried pear slices in a container with an airtight lid for later use in your favorite recipes.

“The Last Pear Tart In a Cornmeal Crust”

Left photo: I really like these pre-made frozen “Vicolo” organic corn meal pizza crusts for quick and easy savory or sweet tarts. There is something about the idea of combining yellow cornmeal, pears & brown sugar that really appeals to my winter palate so I created “The Last Pear Tart” with these and a few other simple ingredients.

Right Photo Ingredients : One pre-made Vicolo, or other brand, corn meal crust; 1/2 cup plain yogurt; 2 eggs, 2 to 3 tbsp brown sugar; 3 or 4 thinly sliced, peeled, cored pears.

To Make: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.                                                                                                                       1. Whisk together the yogurt, eggs & brown sugar.                                                                       2. Arrange pear slices over thawed corn meal crust and pour yogurt                                            mixture over pears letting it run up under and around all pear slices.                                   3. Place filled crust on a baking sheet and pop into the oven. Bake for                                       about 20 minutes or until tart is golden brown, pears are softened and                                   edges start to caramelize. Remove tart from oven. Let cool a bit                before serving cut into wedges.

“….the last pear…..”