Farm Foodie: A Sweet Little Pear
This post written by our resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
As I start marking up my 2012 calendar, it is hard to believe another holiday season has come and almost gone. With the whirlwind of holiday merriment beginning to wane, it’s nice to take a little breather from all the cooking, shopping and running around. Yet there are still a number of occasions for which I will need a simple and delicious appetizer. Guests and hosts alike are always appreciative of something a bit more imaginative than a cheese or charcuterie plate.
For this reason I like to keep a good stash of Seckel pears on hand throughout the holidays. At a moment’s notice I can douse them with cognac and herbs, stuff them with blue cheese and bake until their soft fragrance marries the salty tang of the cheese to become one blissful bite.
Not only do these make an addictive appetizer (three of us once polished off a pan of them for dinner), but they can also turn some simple dressed greens into a fancy pants salad — a fine way to begin or end your holiday meal. Their adorable diminutive size makes them easy for guests to handle, and with the fruit by far outweighing the cheese, these are a perfect way to whet rather than dampen your guests’ appetites. They also make a darned nice midnight snack with a glass of something bubbly….just in case you have an occasion like that coming up.
If you don’t have Seckel pears on hand you could easily adapt this with Bosc pears. Just core them, cut into large chunks, sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and bake the same way. Serve mounded on a plate with more blue cheese and sliced baguette. It won’t be quite as elegant, but will be just as delicious.
I highly recommend you get yourself some truffle honey if you don’t have any – it’s amazing with so many different cheeses and its subtle, earthy flavor works wonders atop a piece of buttered toast alongside your morning eggs.
Adapted from Jason Wilson of Seattle's CRUSH
- 1 ¼ tsp white truffle honey or substitute another honey
- ¼ cup brandy
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- ½ tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
- 12 ripe Seckel pears (¾ to 1 pound)*
- 3 to 5 ounces blue cheese (my favorite is Willapa Hills Two-Faced Blue)
- Optional Garnish:
- Thyme sprigs
- Pomegranate seeds
- In an 8-inch square glass baking dish, combine honey, brandy, salt, pepper and herbs, and microwave to melt the honey, about 10 seconds. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, cut pears in half lengthwise. Using a small melon-ball scoop or ¼-teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop dime-size pieces out of the center core of the pears. Add pears to cooled mixture and toss gently to coat well, then turn pears cut-side-down in dish and let sit for 10 minutes to marinate.
- Turn pears over and fill centers with ½ to 1 teaspoon of blue cheese, shaped into a ball. (Pears can be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 8 hours in advance.)
- When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees and let pears come to room temperature if refrigerated. Bake pears for 7-10 minutes until warmed through and cheese is just starting to color.
- Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with thyme sprigs and pomegranate seeds.
- * Depending on the size of your pears and the rest of your menu, you may want to use anywhere between ½ and 1 teaspoon per pear half.