No respect?

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2007

If you wanted to hold a contest for the most under-appreciated fruit in America, the pear would probably walk away with the grand prize.

This sad prize is largely due to the fact that many people grew up eating canned pears with mayonnaise and shredded Cheddar cheese on them as a salad or could only find hard under ripe fruit in their grocery stores. When a pear is ripe it is one of the most melting delicious fruits you can find. Fortunately pears will ripen some after they are picked, so if you take one home from the grocery store and it is still a little hard just set it out on your counter for a few days.

When I think of pears I automatically think of bleu cheese. No other fruit has such a natural affinity for the large family of bleu cheese. This first recipe is one I got from a trip a long time ago to Dallas and when I catered it was always a hit with cheese lovers. If you want to slice your pears ahead of time you can store them in a Zip-loc bag with a mixture of half water and half pineapple juice to prevent them from darkening.

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Bleu Cheese Mousse

1 egg separated

1/2 cup whipping cream

8 ounces bleu cheese, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Beat the egg white until stiff and set aside. In another bowl whip the cream until stiff and set aside. Then using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolk. Add in the bleu cheese, cream cheese and butter and beat until smooth. Stir the gelatin into the cold water then set this dish in a dish of hot water and stir just until dissolved. (it is easier to do it this way then to try and get hot water cooled down enough to complete the recipe) Add the gelatin mixture and mustard to the cheese mixture. Carefully fold in the egg white and then fold in the whipped cream. Pour into a mold (1 quart size) that you have lightly rubbed with oil and chill until firm. Unmold onto your serving platter and serve with pear slices, toasted walnuts and crackers.

You will find that this recipe for pear bread makes a very light and tender loaf. You can serve it plain but it is really good when lightly toasted and spread with just a little cream cheese.

Pear Bread

1 / 2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 / 4 teaspoon almond extract

2 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 / 2 teaspoon salt

1 / 2 teaspoon baking soda

1 / 4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 / 4 cup buttermilk

1 cup of peeled and coarsely chopped pears

1 / 2 cup of chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan. Using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the two extracts in and blend again. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and nutmeg. Then add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Using a light a hand fold in the pears and walnuts. Pour into your greased loaf pan and place in the oven for about an hour. Check the bread with a toothpick at about 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Pear hold their shape well for grilling, sautéing or other simple preparations. Their delicate flavor needs very few ingredients with it to shine. Try this elegant dish the next time you are at a loss for something new and wonderful to serve for dinner. It really is not difficult and goes together quickly if you have all of your ingredients on hand when you begin.

Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Pears and Brandy Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 firm, large pears, peeled and cut into 1 / 3 inch thick wedges

1 teaspoon sugar

1 1 / 4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1 inch-thick slices

Salt and pepper to taste

1 / 2 cup chopped shallots

1 / 4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 / 4 cup brandy (remember – don’t cook with anything you wouldn’t drink)

1 cup heavy cream

1 / 3 cup pear nectar

Place your pork slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1 / 4 inch thickness using a meat mallet, cover and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons fo the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the pears and sugar. Saute for about 8 minutes or until the pears are tender and deep golden brown. Set aside.

In a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter over high heat. Season your pounded pork with salt and pepper and add in batches to the skillet. Saute each batch for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through (but do not over cook or meat will be dry). As the meat is done place it on a warmed dish and cover to keep warm.

Then reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. When it has melted and the shallots and thyme, sauté for about 2 minutes. Lift the pan away from the stove top and add the brandy. Return to the heat and let it boil for 2 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to a glaze consistency, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and pear nectar. Boil for 5 minutes or until thickend, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Place your caramelized pears over the warm pork and drizzle with the sauce.

Recipe courtesy of the Junior League of Mobile

**This next part would be good pulled into a box in the article.

Bartlett pears are shaped like a bell and turn from green to yellow when ripe. They are very sweet and juicy and are excellent for fresh eating or in salads and desserts. They are also good for dried pear products and canning. Bartlett pears are available from July through December.

Anjou pears are oval-shaped with a smooth, thin skin on the outside. They are light green to yellow-green in color and do not change color as they ripen. Anjous are very sweet and juicy and are great for fresh eating or in salads and desserts. They are available from October through June.

Bosc pears have a long neck and stem with a rough skin on the outside. They are cinnamon brown in color and do not change color as they ripen. They are excellent for baking and eating fresh and are sweet and juicy. They are available from August to May.