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Pear: The other apple pie

Nov 4th, 2012 | Category: Cooking

by Becca Schwarz Cole

Fruit pies, with the exception of the traditional apple and pumpkin, were foreign to our family’s dessert table when I was young. Most of the desserts included cheesecake, cannolis and other Italian delights that Mom and Grandma made, or came from the deli a good drive away. They said it was worth the drive.

Pear pie.

We had apple and pumpkin pie at the regular intervals in the year. The pumpkin was made with a can of Libby’s, the apple was canned filling too.

During my teen years, I worked at a local farm that offered pies from their tiny storefront, where people lined up out the door. What had started as a few pies a day baked by a young German woman, grew years into their family business that  had people calling weeks ahead to reserve their pies. In the summertime, when I worked at the stand, I was happy to be out of that hot little store, keeping track of the totals in my head and running back and forth to find pies that were sold from the case as soon as they were placed.

It was during this time that fruit pies came to be a fairly regular thing at our family’s table. The pie list was (and still is) long and delicious – everything from Raspberry-Peach, Apple-Rhubarb and Blueberry to cream pies and meringues. Apple was often my family’s most requested pie, until I accidentally brought home a pear pie. I don’t remember exactly how I ended up with that pear pie. Likely, I grabbed the wrong pie from the rack. I remember the apples and pears were in the same cooling area, but the apple pies always had a much more distinct higher crust. Nonetheless, it was pear I brought home that day, and pear has been a favorite ever since. I loved this pie so much that my mother would have it ready for me when I traveled home during college breaks.

My pear pie is not as good as that pie from the farm, but it’s good, especially with an old-fashioned crust. Serve it and your family and guests will be pleased. Mix in some honey-hazelnut pears, and you have two tasty fall desserts. Enjoy.

Pear pie

Ingredients

2 pie crusts

5 peeled, sliced pears

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces

Directions

Line your 9-inch pie plate with bottom crust. Slice the pears and placed in a bowl with vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients, and cut in butter. Mix the pears in, thoroughly covering the slices, and place in pie plate. (If you want a less sweet pie, drizzle two tablespoons of lemon juice  at this point). Place top pie crust, crimp the edges, cut slits into the top of the pie to let steam out while baking, and cover edge of pie with a strip of foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes more, or until pie is golden brown and pears are tender.

Be sure to slice your pears fairly thin. The thicker they are the longer they will take to cook. Add a half cup of cranberries if you want to kick the pie up a notch. Don’t have enough pears for the pie? Use half apples.

Honey-hazelnut pears

Ingredients

1/2 cup hazelnuts

2 teaspoons butter (or alternative)

2 pears, peeled, halved and cored

1/3 cup honey

vanilla, if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Chop the nuts and set aside.

In a medium-size cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook until caramelized on both sides, no more than 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the honey to the skillet and dripping on the pears. As the honey melts, coat the pears on both sides.  Cover and cook the pears about five minutes more, until tender. Top with crushed or whole hazelnuts.

Published in the November 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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