Pear-fect pours

Tis the season to delight with classic favorites. Now at Thanksgiving and through the Yuletide.
Some of those special favorites are pears…and ports…
Like turkey and stuffing. Currier & Ives. 
Did you know that vintages are declared, on an average—but three times a decade. So odds are wanting a special vintage year might not be available.
The sweetness of a port comes from stopping the fermentation before all of the sugars are processed. A dry port is dry because the fermentation was allowed to go a little longer.
Fortifying the wine with brandy came as a response to help the wine travel by sea better during colonial times. Later, the port wines were experimented with to improve the flavor to what is sold today.
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cups red- or green- leaf lettuce (preferably young lettuce, available at ;specialty produce markets and some supermarkets), or a combination ;of both, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1 large red Bartlett pear
  • 1/4 pound Stilton, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted lightly, cooled, and chopped.
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified. In a bowl toss the lettuce with half the dressing and divide the salad among 4 plates. Halve and core the pear and cut it lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange one fourth of the pear slices decoratively on each plate, divide the Stilton and the pecans among the salads, and drizzle the remaining dressing on top.

Crust

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (about) ice water

Filling

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 3/4 to 4 pounds Barlett pears, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup diced pitted prunes (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup diced stemmed Calimyrna figs
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 egg beaten to blend with 1 tablespoon brandy (glaze)

For Crust: Blend flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter and cream cheese until coarse meal forms. With machine running, pour just enough water down feed tube to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

For Filling: Mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Mix in pears, prunes and figs. Sprinkle brandy over and mix well. Let stand 15 minutes to allow juices to form. Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400° F. Roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured surface to 14-inch-diameter round. Transfer to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish; gently press dough into place. Spoon filling into crust, mounding slightly in center. Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 14-inch-diameter round. Drape dough over filling. Trim dough overhang to 1/2 inch. Press edges together to seal and fold under. Crimp edge decoratively. Brush top of crust (but not edge) with glaze. Cut several small slits in crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake pie until crust is golden brown and pears are tender when pierced through steam vents, about 50 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.

suggested pour:
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