Pair up with pears: Versatile fruit goes from sweet to savory

 

This easy-to-make apple-pear puff pancake is simple to prepare in about a half hour.

This easy-to-make apple-pear puff pancake is simple to prepare in about a half hour. Photo by: tasteofhome.com

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

Years ago, a Plant the Town initiative in Columbus saw hundreds of Bradford pears planted along highways and byways in the city. The tree known for its white spring blossoms seemed to become all the local rage, as they say. When I needed a planting for a corner of our yard, I purchased one. I thought I was buying a smallish tree that would produce a cascade of flowers, not fruit. As it turned out, this instance helped teach me how important it is to read the entire tag on the tree.

 

The short of it is, my particular tree graces us, not with a spring "snowfall" of blossoms, but with more pears than we can possibly eat or even give away. Many become lawn mower fodder. But lucky for me, some of this summer's crop came back to us as a pear cobbler, an unexpected treat made by a sister-in-law. It was delicious. The fact that the fruit was from our own tree made it even moreso.

 

Our prolific pear tree is about played out, but this past weekend a friend in eastern Lowndes County, whose trees are about to present her with more than she knows what to do with, was offering them around in advance. It made me think of ways to use pears that I often overlook. Their mellow, juicy flavor works well with so many others, sweet or savory. Poach them, grill them, roast them, bake them. Toss them in salads, pair them with pork tenderloin, bundle them with chicken and mozzarella, use them in bread, cakes and tarts, even soups. And then there's one of easiest and one of my favorites -- a pear half on lettuce, topped with a dab of mayo and shredded cheddar. Why some folks from beyond the Deep South act surprised to see this, I'm not sure. I'm guessing their mamas never made them pineapple-and-mayo sandwiches either.

 

 

The advent of autumn is a good time to try out at least one new way to enjoy pears. One of today's recipes might tempt you.

 

 

APPLE-PEAR PUFF PANCAKE

 

Prep/total time: 30 minutes

 

Makes 6 servings

 

 

3 tablespoons butter

 

4 large eggs

 

1 cup 2 percent milk

 

1 cup all-purpose flour

 

1 tablespoon sugar

 

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

3 tablespoons butter

 

3 medium apples, sliced

 

3 medium pears, sliced

 

3 tablespoons sugar

 

Maple syrup, optional

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Place butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet; heat in oven until butter is melted, 2-3 minutes. Tilt pan to coat evenly with butter.

     

  • Place eggs, milk, flour, sugar and nutmeg in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Pour into hot skillet. Bake until puffed and browned. 17-20 minutes.

     

  • Meanwhile, for topping, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples, pears and sugar; cook until fruit is tender, stirring occasionally, 12-15 minutes.

     

  • Remove pancake from oven; fill with fruit mixture and serve immediately. If desired, serve with syrup.

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Carol Williams)

     

     

    PEAR COBBLER

     

     

    4 cups peeled, sliced pears

     

    1 stick butter

     

    1 cup self-rising flour

     

    1 cup sugar

     

    1 cup milk

     

     

  • Cook 4 cups sliced pears with water and sugar to taste, until tender.

     

  • Melt 1 stick butter in a 9-by-11-inch dish.

     

  • Mix together well 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and pour the mixture over the butter.

     

  • Pour cooked pears with juice over the dough mixture, making sure the pears are spread throughout the dish.

     

  • Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes.

     

    (Source: Eleanor Hairston, Columbus)

     

     

    PEAR STREUSEL PIE

     

    Makes 8 servings

     

     

    4 cups peeled and sliced pears

     

    1/4 cup sugar

     

    1 tablespoon lemon juice

     

    1 tablespoon margarine

     

    1/4 teaspoon salt

     

    1/8 teaspoon mace

     

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

     

    1 tablespoon water

     

    1 pie crust, unbaked

     

     

    Streusel topping:

     

    1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

     

    1/2 cup flour

     

    2/3 cup coconut

     

    1/4 cup margarine

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine pear slices, sugar, lemon juice, margarine, salt and mace in saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes.

     

  • Lift pears into pastry shell with a slotted spoon.

     

  • Mix cornstarch and water until smooth. Add to remaining syrup. Bring to a boil; cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour syrup over pears. Bake for 15 minutes. n Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, flour and coconut. Mix in margarine with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly.

     

  • Sprinkle on top of pie; bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until topping is golden brown.

     

    (Source: lsuagcenter.com)

     

     

    GRILLED CHICKEN WITH ROSEMARY PEARS AND CHEESE SAUCE

     

    Prep time: 10 minutes

     

    Cook time: 30 minutes

     

    Makes 4 servings

     

     

    4 chicken breasts

     

    3 tablespoons olive oil

     

    1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic

     

    1/2 teaspoon dried herbs

     

    2 Anjou pears, cut in wedges

     

    1 Bosc pear, cut in wedges

     

    4 rosemary branches

     

    2 tablespoon butter

     

    1 cup sour cream

     

    1/2 cup milk

     

    1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

     

    1 pinch nutmeg

     

    Salt and pepper

     

     

  • Mix the powdered garlic, herbs and olive oil; spread this mix on the chicken breasts, and grill them at low heat.

     

  • Meanwhile, saute the pears with the rosemary and butter.

     

  • Heat the sour cream, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.

     

  • Slice the chicken breasts, serve and garnish with the pear slices and cheese sauce.

     

    (Source: usapears.org)

     

     

    FRESH PEAR CAKE

     

    Serves 16

     

     

    2 cups sugar

     

    1 cup oil

     

    3 eggs (or egg substitute)

     

    2 teaspoons vanilla

     

    3 cups all-purpose flour

     

    1 teaspoon soda

     

    1 teaspoon baking powder

     

    1 teaspoon salt

     

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

     

    1 teaspoon nutmeg or mace

     

    3 cups chopped raw pears

     

    1 cup chopped pecans

     

     

  • Combine sugar and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Stir in vanilla.

     

  • Sift together dry ingredients; add to sugar-egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in pears and pecans. Batter will be stiff.

     

  • Pour into well-greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 375 F about 1 hour, or until done. Cool about 5 minutes and remove from pan. Freezes well.

     

    (Source: lsuagcenter.com)

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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