Pascale’s Kitchen: Leftover pears make perfect treats

What do I do with a few extra pears that needed to either be used or thrown away?

 PEAR TARTE tatin. (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
PEAR TARTE tatin.
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Often, when we go grocery shopping, we end up buying more food than we actually need. If these items are non-perishables, then it’s not a big deal – to the pantry they go for future use. But when we purchase too much milk, meat, fruit or vegetables, then it’s more of an issue, since we don’t want good food to go to waste. 

That is exactly what happened to me this week. I had invited over friends, but they canceled at the last minute, and I was left with lots of food, including some pears that may not have been the nicest looking, but I certainly didn’t want them to go to waste. And that’s when I had a few fantastic ideas for what I could make with them instead of just throwing them out. 

I decided to make an easy and quick pear cake. Most simple cakes require mixing dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in a second, and then mixing them together. Soon enough, an incredible aroma is wafting from the oven and into the house. 

This week, however, I decided to try something different. I wanted to make a cake that was super simple but that comes out looking very fancy. Sometimes the easiest recipes end up looking like something that must have required lots of complicated steps. 

I decided to make a pear cake that used pear halves that had been soaked for a bit in wine, which gives them a beautiful burgundy tone. After you prepare the batter, press the pear halves on top. The cake comes out looking amazing when it’s baked this way. Then, once it is finished baking, I sprinkle almond slivers on top. 

 PEAR TARTE tatin. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) PEAR TARTE tatin. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

After I finished making the pear cake, I still had leftover pears, so I decided to make a pear tarte tatin. It came out looking stunning and tasting just as good. The tarte hadn’t even finished cooling, and already every piece of it had been gobbled up. 

Then this question arose: What do I do with a few extra pears that needed to either be used or thrown away? I came up with three easy and quick mini-recipes. For one, scoop out some of the flesh of the pear, and then fill them with blue cheese and almond slivers. Just add a little brown sugar and bake them in the oven for a few minutes.

Another option is to use puff pastry to bake circles, on top of which you can add a sliced half-pear and powdered sugar. 

Finally, I took the rest of the leftover pears and put them in a small pot with water, sugar and spices. After the pears had softened, I added chocolate sauce and served them straight away. It’s as easy as that!

PEAR TARTE TATIN

Use a round iron pan with an 18- or 20-cm diameter.

  • 5 small pears 
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup (or more) brown sugar
  • 50-70 gr. butter or margarine
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 1 package (400 gr.) puff pastry, either dairy or parve

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg, beaten well

Peel the pears, then slice them in half and cut out the core with a melon baller.

Place the pear halves in a bowl and squeeze lemon juice on them. Use your fingers to coat all the pieces with the lemon juice. 

Add the brown sugar, and butter or margarine, in the iron pan. Add the cinnamon and vanilla sugar and heat over medium heat. Stir while heating until everything has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. 

Remove from the heat and arrange the pear halves inside the pan with the hollowed-out side facing down. 

On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry with a rolling pin. Cut out a piece of pastry dough that will cover the entire surface of the pan. (You can keep the rest of the dough in the fridge.) Press the edge of the dough down into the pan.

Brush the dough with the beaten egg and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200° for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, place a serving plate upside down on top of the cake, then flip the cake over onto the serving plate. Let the caramel ooze over the sides of the cake. 

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 30-40 minutesStatus: Parve or dairy

 PEAR CAKE. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) PEAR CAKE. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

PEAR CAKE

Use a round 24-cm. diameter pan.

Filling:

  • 5 pears, peeled
  • 700 ml. quality red wine
  • 200 gr. sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Water to cover

Dough:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large pear, cut into tiny pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or silan
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup oil
  • ¼ cup water or sweet red wine
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1½ cups spelt flour, sifted
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Toppings:

  • ¼ cup sliced or whole almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. honey mixed with 1 tsp. of water
  • Powdered sugar

Place the pears, wine, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a pot and stir gently. Pour water into the pot to cover the pears. 

Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes at a roiling boil. Turn the heat off, and let the pears cool. (Note: It’s best to prepare the pears the day before, so that they have time for the taste and color to set.) 

Drain the pears, slice them in half lengthwise, and cut out the core. 

To prepare the dough: Place the tiny pear pieces in a large bowl, then add the eggs, sugar, oil, juice or wine, cinnamon, flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Mix well. If the mixture is too thick, add another 1-2 tablespoons of juice or wine. 

Grease the bottom and sides of your pan well. Pour the batter into the pan and flatten. Arrange the pear halves on top of the dough, gently pressing them down into the batter.

Sprinkle the almonds on top, then bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 45 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center of the cake comes out dry. Remove the cake and let cool. 

Brush the cake with honey wash or sprinkle with a little powdered sugar.

Level of difficulty: Easy-mediumTime: 1 hourStatus: Parve

QUICK RECIPES

Here are three easy pear recipes that take less than 15 minutes to make:

Maple syrup pears

  • Using leftover puff pastry pieces, cut out heart or circle shapes according to the number of pears you have. Brush with a beaten egg, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Place them on a pan covered with baking paper, and bake in an oven that has been preheated to medium heat for 7-10 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven and let them cool. Arrange the pieces of puff pastry on a serving plate, then place half a sliced pear on each circle. Drizzle with maple syrup or honey, then sprinkle powdered sugar and cinnamon on top and serve immediately. 

Pear halves stuffed with blue cheese

  • Peel the pears, but keep the stem intact. Cut them in half, and cut out the core, plus a little more, with a spoon or melon baller. Drizzle a little lemon juice on top and arrange the pear halves on a pan. 
  • Sprinkle brown sugar on the pears and brush with a little melted butter. Add cubes or pieces of your favorite blue cheese. Sprinkle with sliced or ground almonds. Cook the pears in the oven that has been preheated to 200° for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Whole pears in chocolate sauce

  • Peel the pears, but leave about 4 cm. of the stem. Chop off the bottom of the pear so that the pear will sit upright easily. Boil the pears in water mixed with sugar and spices (vanilla, cinnamon and cloves) for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Remove the pears, and place them standing upright on a serving platter. Set aside the juice the pears were cooked in. 
  • Prepare the chocolate sauce, and add a spoonful or two of the pear cooking juice, depending on the consistency you desire. Pour the chocolate sauce over the pears and serve immediately.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.