Rustic Pear Tart

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Ok, I am pretty sure I promised you all this recipe sometime last fall. Unfortunately 2012 was a pretty depressing year for fruit in our area and I was unable to get local, unsprayed pears. This year was a drastically different growing season and we have plenty of apples and pears available to us right now.

Ye olde family in the big house is pretty partial to my mom’s apple pie (a recipe that I am also getting pretty good at myself) and, if my math is correct, that we may have consumed- oh, maybe four times already this apple season. Well, I was looking for a change and a slightly easier (read, I was short for time…the pears were about to turn…and I needed something fast and not fussy) and I remembered the tart that I had thrown together, on a whim, a couple of years ago when I was sadly in the same dinner situation as previously mentioned. Will I ever learn to be more prepared when it comes to the dinner schedule? Probably not, at least not while the kidlits are little. Happily, my disorganization is your gain.

Anyway, I wanted to share it here with you because I am guessing that all of you wonderful, creative, busy and beautiful people sometimes find yourself short on time, big on hungry, looking for a tasty hassle free dessert that you don’t feel guilty about later. I mean, it does contain fruit that has to count for something, right? Right?

What follows is not much of a recipe, maybe more accurately a set of suggested guidelines that could easily be morphed into what sounds good to you on any given night.

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Rustic Pear Tart

what you need:

  • 3-4 pears, or what ever fall fruit is sitting on you counter perched on the edge of turning. Apples and Quince would also work.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon of wildflower honey
  • 1 small cookie sheet with sides

what you do:

  • Slice your fruit into 1/4 inch slices. I used a combo of red and green pears here just to make it extra pretty. Place in large bowl and toss with cinnamon and cardamom. Let sit while you prepare the crust.

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  • Make your favorite pie crust recipe (my mom always used the Betty Crocker recipe or you could try this gluten-free one), enough for two 9” regular pie crusts. Roll out into a rectangle slightly larger than the size of your cookie sheet. Transfer to sheet.

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  • Place fruit in two lines, long way on crust, with lines facing opposite directions. Sprinkle fruit with nutmeg and drizzle with honey. Roll the crust up and over the edges of the fruit. Place 3-5 pats of butter evenly over fruit if desired.

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  • Bake at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm.

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You can change this to your taste. Try switching up the spices, maybe allspice instead of cardamom? You could also play with the sweetener. Maple syrup is another one of my go-to substitutes for white sugar. Make changes, make it your own and definitely make it tonight. That sad bowl of forgotten fruit will thank you for saving them from a less desirable fate.

Friday confessions

This Friday’s confession is brought to you by our garden, and my apparent lack of creativity, as of late…

This isn’t even the whole lot. I processed a basket full two days ago and gave another basket full away to some neighbors.

I’m beginning to resent my tomato plants, they are producing too much, to quickly and I can’t keep up. So, maybe I actually resent my lack of ability to stay on top of all my to dos. Where did the girl go who could keep up with everything? Oh yeah, that’s right, she had two kids, gave up sleeping at night, vowed to live without certain conveniences (ones that might make things faster but were harmful to both her loved ones and the earth) and took on running a homestead.  I am officially out of creative ways to prepare and preserve these pretty little gems. Actually, I lost some because I let them sit too long while I contemplated what to make with them. Not to worry though, the chickens enjoyed them as an afternoon snack the other day. So I guess we will be eating them one way or another. Eggs anyone?

So if you have any suggestions please send them my way. And hurry! Two days from now the amount of tomatoes will have double. Kevin’s, not so helpful, advice was to have a tomato throwing fight. I said that was wasteful. He said “not if we do it near the chicken coop or in the pigs’ pasture.” His reasoning here is, unfortunately, sound. I really don’t want to participate in his plan, so if you would like to save me from this embarrassment, send me your ideas. As added incentive, next week I promise to share a very tasty recipe in return. 😉

Happy Weekend!

The one where I gush about Martha

Snoop Dogg baking brownies with Martha. photo courtesy of marthastewart.com

I love Martha Stewart. Honestly, I have loved her ever since I was in high school, you know, back in the day when she did every show from her actual house and before she had street cred. That’s what happens when you spend time in prison, you become instantly cooler and rappers want to bake brownies with you. So, I loved her even before her cool factor shot through the roof, that makes me a true fan, right? Anyway, Martha (yes we are on a first name bases, at least we would be if we ever actually met in person) has always spoken to my type A personality, my inner monster’s need for perfection, and my always present want (need?) to be crafty, in one way or another, everyday. She’s who sparked my interest to bake my own bread (I started experimenting making bread when I was a teenager, long before I had any idea that I would be making bread to feed both my family and to make a political statement about the state of our country’s food systems) and she was also the one who got me into collecting vintage dishes and bakeware, which may be considered more of an addiction than a hobby, depending on who you ask around here. I guess, in a sense, she’s the one who started me on this path toward self-sufficiency. Who would have thought?

My cooking experiences have not always turned out stellar. There have been a lot of bumps and wrong turns on that road, especially early on, but with practice and time, things have got much better. Yes, the deck most defiantly got stacked in my favor the day I married, a professionally trained, cook who was willing to teach me a few new tricks! Martha’s recipes, however, always turned out great, even in the early days. When my mom came upon this recipe in an issue of last summers Martha Stewart Living I knew I had to make it and I knew it would only be more delicious using homegrown heirloom tomatoes and fresh-cut basil from the herb garden. It’s also a great summertime meal because it only heats up the kitchen when boiling the water for the pasta and comes together quickly for those nights that we linger outside, a little too long, not realizing that dinner should already be on the table. At least, not until after one of us (usually PJ, my Dad or myself-oh no, our family resemblance is showing, again), is on the verge of a low blood sugar induced meltdown of nuclear proportions.

Macaroni with Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes– adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2011

Some heirloom cherry tomatoes-red, sun gold and black. The pottery bowl was a handmade gift from Kevin.

7-8 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes* cut into bite size pieces.

3/4 cup torn, fresh basil

3 tablespoons of salt packed capers

zest of 2 medium lemons

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1 1/2 lbs of bow ties, or another flat pasta.

*I used heirloom cherry and pear tomatoes because that is what is ripe, in our garden, right now but you could use any heirloom, even large slicers, just cut them it into the correct size.

 In a small sauce pan heat sliced garlic and 1/2 Cup of oil on low heat until garlic becomes golden-colored. Remove from heat, set aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl with a lid, mix tomatoes, 1/4 cup of basil, capers, zest of one lemon, red pepper flakes and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour garlic and oil over mixture, affix lid and toss. Let sit on counter for about thirty minutes tossing occasionally.

For this meal I used store-bought, organic, dried pasta. It would be even more tasty with homemade fresh macaroni but then it would no long fit under the heading of  one of my, “I haven’t left enough time to get dinner made-before everyone starts complaining-oh crap what am I going to make fast so no one flips out” meals.

Once paste is al dente, drain, give a quick rinse with cool water to prevent sticking and place in a large serving bowl. Now, here is where Martha and I differ, I know, shocking. Right? Instead of adding 2 cups of cooking water to the pasta, I drizzle ~1/4 cup of olive oil and give a quick stir. I find that my homegrown tomatoes tend to be more juicy than their store-bought counterparts and when mixed with the extra cooking water, make the dish soupy. Stir in tomato mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with remaining torn basil and garish with the zest of second lemon.

It tastes even better than it looks, I promise!

What recipes have you been cooking up using the summer’s offerings?