pear picking

The Winter Pear
by William Allingham

Is always Age severe?
Is never Youth austere?
Spring-fruits are sour to eat;
Autumn’s the mellow time.
Nay, very late in the year.
Short day and frosty rime.
Thought, like a winter pear,
Stone-cold in summer’s prime,
May turn from harsh to sweet.

Posted 11 years, 4 months ago at 11:24 am. Add a comment

Pear and Rosemary Upside Down Pancake (Soaked)

Impromptu cooking certainly has its magic, but there is something to be said for recipe sculpting. Carefully chipping away at burnt corners or smoothing out too tart flavors. I’ve made this pancake for the past month of Sunday mornings at least. Each time I chiseled into it a better form emerged.

I love pancakes. How I love them has admittedly changed through the years. As a child I remember looking forward to the chocolate chip studded ones. I’m sure my dorm mates remember my high school fascination with doughy anemic looking pancakes. There was a time when I was a purist and refused to defile my pancakes with anything but maple syrup. I’ve enjoyed them thin and stacked high with butter melting out through the layers.

The one thing I’ve never enjoyed about pancakes is actually making them. For one thing, I can never seem to get everything technically right. The batter is too thin and the pancakes run a marathon around the pan. Or the batter’s too thick and the resulting pancakes, while decent enough, are reminiscent of hamburger buns. Then there’s the whole heat issue. I get impatient waiting for the skillet to heat so my first pancakes take forever to cook, so I turn up the heat. Then the next several burn before they are done in the middle. About the last three pancakes are perfect.

But the reason I’d just about given up making pancakes was the endless standing over the stove– watching for bubbling dough, flipping, rescuing mis-flips, watching everyone else eat, and then finally just eating one straight off the skillet cause I’m too tired and hungry to sit down and enjoy it properly.

Also, I seem to be perpetually almost out of maple syrup.

While I’m not arrogant enough to call this the best pancake recipe ever, it does solve most of my pancake problems. Since it’s made all in one pan, the batter consistency is less of an issue. Baking it in the oven sidesteps the inconsistent heat hurdle. But the best part has to be that it’s all ready at the same time. Mr. Quotidian and I get to eat together and both have hot pancakes. Oh, and it doesn’t require maple syrup.

Pear and Rosemary Upside Down Pancake
Inspired by Nourished Kitchen and Epicurious

1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c cornmeal
3/4 c buttermilk
1/4 cup whole cane sugar (rapadura or Succanat)
3 T chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter
2 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, sliced about 1/4 thick

Use your fingers to whisk together the flour and cornmeal. Stir in the buttermilk till everything is evenly moistened. Cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let sit overnight (6-8 hours). Meanwhile, rub the chopped rosemary into the sugar.

After 6-8 hours, preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl mix together 1 T of the rosemary sugar mixture, the baking soda, and salt. Beat the eggs together in another small bowl. Then quickly stir together the eggs and the sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Melt the butter in a heavy 10 in skillet over low heat to avoid splattering. Tilt the skillet around so butter coats all the sides. Just as it starts to brown, arrange the sliced pears in a decorative pattern– remember this will be the top of the pancake. Then sprinkle the remaining rosemary sugar over the pears. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until the pears are just barely tender and the sugar has begun to caramelize. Pour in the batter, being careful not to disturb the pears. Move the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the pancake is golden brown and firm when tapped. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the outside. Place a plate on top of the skillet. Holding the plate and skillet together, invert them so the plate is on the bottom. Give a gentle shake and a small prayer, then remove the skillet. Replace any pears that have become dislodged from their place. If you had extra pear slices, arrange them around the outside of the plate. You can serve it with syrup if you’d like, but I prefer a sprinkling of extra rosemary.

Posted 12 years, 7 months ago at 9:09 pm. 4 comments

An Impromptu Autumn Salad

I admire people who can “do” impromptu, whether acting, singing, joke telling, or speeching. For me to agree to do any of those things I would require ample amount of time to prepare. (And even then, you probably only have a hope of convincing me to speak publicly.) Thinking on my feet is not one of my stronger qualities.

In the kitchen, however, I am much more adept at improvising. I love the magic of off-the-cuff meals– when disparate ingredients come together into a delicious punchline of a dinner.

That’s what happened this past lunchtime. I gathered together what sounded good: lettuce with the crispness of fall morning air, golden raisins the color of its afternoon light, and toasted almonds smelling of its evening fire. Toothsome pears and leftover pear brandy cream sauce completed the cast.

Posted 12 years, 7 months ago at 7:35 pm. Add a comment