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A Pair for Pears

Roasted Pear-Goat Cheese Crostini

Last week, I attended a holiday party, with potluck refreshments. What to bring? I made a quick survey of the refrigerator for inspiration. I found a bag of Bosc pears, some goat cheese, and three-quarters of a day-old baguette.

Last month, I came across a recipe for caramelized seckel pears. I’ve been thinking about them for weeks, but never had a chance to try the recipe out. This seemed like a good topper for the crostini. Hence, Roasted Pear-Goat Cheese Crostini it would be.

Roasted Pear-Goat Cheese Crostini
Makes about 3 dozen

1 baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices

Caramelized Pears:
2 Tbsp tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Bosc pears

4-6 oz goat cheese, at room temperature

Honey, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on baking sheet.. Bake for 10 minutes, until barely browned and crisp. Let them cool.

Turn up temperature to 425F and let the oven preheat. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, vinegar, and cinnamon.

Slice each pear in half. Core with a melon baller. Now cut each half in half again so you have quarters. Slice each quarter into 4 to 6 slices. I found it easier to cut through the peel side first.

In a large bowl, toss the pears with the balsamic dressing until all the slices are coated.

Arrange the pear slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 12 minutes. Let the pear slices cool.

Spread each baguette slice with goat cheese. Place a pear slice on top of the goat cheese. You might need to cut the pear slices in half crosswise to fit.

Drizzle the crostini with honey.

Caramelized Pears

I ended up with many more pear slices than I needed for the number of crostini I was making. The leftover pear slices are delicious in salad. I love making salads for all the random bits of leftovers in the fridge. I had a great lunch salad with some leftover turkey confit, roasted fingerling potatoes, and the caramelized pear slices, along with lettuce, of course.

Salad with Pears

Here’s the result of my labors at the holiday greens party. I did start with a plain fir wreath that I bought, but I added more greens as well as all the decorations. Isn’t it pretty?



French Fridays with Dorie: Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup

We’ve been having perfect soup weather, and there’s nothing that makes my house happier than a big pot of soup. Having such a treasure in the fridge makes our week go more smoothly, having something delicious and nutritious to bring for lunch everyday.

For French Fridays with Dorie, the recipe this week was just that. Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup had autumn all over its name. I’m always trying different winter squash soup recipes. I haven’t quite found that perfect go-to recipe. Really, I think the success of each batch depends on the squash itself, and the flavor of the squash can be wildly inconsistent. I was excited to try this one to see how it stood up to other recipes.

My husband Howard doesn’t eat fruit in his food. He just eats fruit as fruit. And, while he likes apples, Howard does not care for pears. So, I was a little furtive about the reason for pears in the grocery bag.

I roasted the halved butternut and buttercup squash. I peeled and chopped the cooked squash and lined it up on the counter next to bowls of chopped onions and scallions, fennel and garlic, and the spice mix of cumin, ginger, and nutmeg. The pears just patiently sat on the counter. Then I started to cook the soup. I didn’t want to chop the pears because I didn’t want them to brown while they waited for their turn to go into the pot. This whole time, I was alone in the kitchen.

As the soup simmered, I started to peel and chop those pears. Wouldn’t you know this was the moment that Howard decided to come see what I was up to. The conversation went sort of like this:

Howard: What are those pears for?
Betsy: (silence)
H: Those aren’t going in to the soup, are they?
B: (guilty look) You weren’t supposed to see them.
H: I can’t believe you you’re going to poison me.
B: You aren’t even going to taste them.
H: I’ll know they’re there.
B: No, you won’t.
H: (sigh) Poisoner, poisoner.

At this point, he left the room, and I added the pears to the pot. So much for being sneaky.

Once all the ingredients are tender, the mixture is pureed in the blender where it transforms into a smooth, golden soup. Mine was thick, and I opted not to thin it down with additional water or broth, but you could.

I ended up with a HUGE container of a wonderful soup that has lasted all week. The squash itself might have been bland, but the fennel added depth beyond the usual onions, and the spices added a nice warmth. Those pears were the secret weapon. I couldn’t taste a distinct pear flavor, just an extra sweetness. I think adding some fruit might be the solution to earlier failed squash soup recipes with potential.

Did Howard eat the soup? He grumbled a little bit, and insists he can taste the pears, but he took it for lunch every day (he’s in charge of making the lunches we bring to work). He did admit that it was a good soup. I’ll call that a success.

As a side note, last week, I tried Béatrix’s Red Kuri Soup (page 78) because I had happened on red kuri squash at one of the last Farmer’s Markets of the season. If you haven’t tried that one (which I think is somewhat ingredient-dependent), it was also a winner.

I’m looking forward to reading about what my fellow FFwD bloggers thought about this week’s recipe. Check out their links at French Fridays with Dorie. We don’t post the recipes, but consider getting your own copy of the book, Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. Maybe you’ll even want to cook along with us on Fridays. It’s a great group, and you’d be quite welcome.