The pears have arrived, and there are many possibilities for pairing them with foods that bring out their best. Or you can simply crunch into a ripe Bosc or Asian pear to savor the honey-sweet juicy crispness. Slicing a big green Bartlett to enjoy with a bit of Stilton cheese and a few golden walnuts is always a treat. I can't possibly rave enough about all the pear pastry possibilities.
When I was a child, the biggest pear tree I've ever known stood just outside my grandmother's kitchen in Ada. It supplied hours of fun building tree houses and showing off our tree limb acrobatics. During pear season, the abundance supplied neighbors and filled the pantry with canned pears, preserves and golden pear honey.
As the pears ripened, sweet pear aroma rode in on the gentle breeze coming in grandmother Beulah's back door. That scent lingers in my mind even now. It was best to get the pears before they fell to the ground, but in our family's waste-not-want-not culture, the fallen ones had to be picked up before they bruised and rotted or attracted critters.
Pears also offer plenty of nutritional value to recommend them for including in your diet. One large Bartlett pear contains about 7 grams of fiber at only about 133 calories. A medium one will have a little less with about 100 calories.
My favorite pear dish now is probably roasted pears in cream. There's nothing to it, really, as your oven does all the work. There are only four ingredients: pears, butter, sugar and cream or half-and-half. You must try roasting pears this way. The amazing caramelization is infused into the cream or half-and-half to make a rich golden elixir that would charm any husband into submission — maybe even a would-be husband into a proposal.
Before I learned about roasting pears this way, I poached them until soft in white wine then drizzled on the raspberry or chocolate sauce. The poaching was great, but I hated to use the amount of wine it took to cover the pears for this technique. Poaching does have less fat and less sugar, for pear lovers who need or want that alternative.
Pick up some pears from your neighborhood market or the nearest tree, and enjoy them at their seasonal best.
I can't say enough about this amazing pear season treat. Even if pears suddenly get a little too ripe and juicy for graceful snacking, they will work great in this recipe. The more ripe the pear, the less time it takes to roast to caramelized sweetness. You can serve this over ice cream or simply savor it in all its amazing concentrated sweet pear love.
PEARS ROASTED WITH CARAMELIZED CREAM
Makes 4 small servings (very rich)
3 large pears (5 medium-size), peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons softened butter to coat baking dish or glass pie dish
1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Butter baking dish. Peel pears and cut into quarters lengthwise. Arrange pears in baking dish placing wider end toward the outside and stem end toward center of dish to look like a daisy or mum. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake on middle rack for 30 to 45 minutes in center of oven until pears begin to brown on edges. Pour cream or milk over the pears and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes until liquid is bubbly and caramel like.
The pears reduce in size as they give up some of their juices during baking. Those sweet juices caramelize and infuse with the cream or half-and-half during the last part of baking.
Cook's notes: You can do this with other fruits such as plums (halve and bake cut-side up) or peaches. This stuff is addictive, so please forgive me for getting you started on this yummy technique.
Source: Sherrel Jones