Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

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  • Mixed greens with pears, blue cheese and pine nuts Serves 6 To toast the pine nuts called for in this recipe, spread in single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Do not let them burn. INGREDIENTS 2 large ripe firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice 12 cups torn mixed greens, including red leaf, Boston, curly endive and arugula, rinsed, crisped and chilled Salt, freshly ground black pepper 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

    Dressing:

    1 large shallot, minced 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 cup safflower oil 1 tablespoon water 1/8 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper INSTRUCTIONS

    Toss diced pears with scant 1/4 cup dressing. Can be done two hours ahead and refrigerated.

    For dressing: Place shallot, mustard, vinegar, honey, oil, water, salt and pepper in small jar. Close securely. Shake vigorously to mix. Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Use chilled. Shake well before using. To serve, put greens into large shallow bowl. Toss with remaining dressing. Divide among six chilled serving plates.

    Sprinkle lightly to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter pears over greens, dividing evenly. Garnish with crumbled cheese, then pine nuts, again dividing both evenly. Serve immediately.

    Per serving: 148 cal.; 183 mg sod.; 26 mg chol.; 10 g fat; 12 g carb.; 4 g protein; 1.08 g fiber. Butternut squash and pear soup Prep time: 20 minutes cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 4 to 6 This recipe is from Dave Lieberman of the Food Network. INGREDIENTS 4 tablespoons butter 2 medium onions, diced 1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces 4 pears, peeled and chopped into roughly 1-inch pieces 1-quart low sodium chicken stock, or enough to cover 1 sprig rosemary Heavy cream Salt Freshly ground black pepper Granulated sugar INSTRUCTIONS

    In a 4-quart saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat, and add and sweat the onions. Add squash and pears and sweat those too a bit. Pour in the stock, enough to submerge solids. Add sprig of rosemary and bring to a simmer and cook until squash is fork tender about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove rosemary. Puree with immersion blender. Add a touch of cream and season, to taste.

    Grilled pears stuffed with mascarpone and bacon Serves: 2 This recipe is from executive chef Geoff Kelty of Eddie Merlot’s in Columbus, Ohio, and was featured on www.PearPanache.com, a website dedicated to pear recipes. INGREDIENTS

    Pear Halves:

    1 medium Bartlett pear, cut in half 1 cup water 1 cup white wine Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

    Mascarpone Filling:

    3/4 cup mascarpone cheese 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (to make 1/4 cup) 1 teaspoon finely chopped chives 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine the sugar, water, white wine, lemon juice and vanilla seeds and bean in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved.

    Remove the core from the pear halves with a melon baller and use a small paring knife to remove the stem. Add the pears to the liquid and simmer over low heat until they turn slightly translucent and become tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the pear halves to cool slightly in the liquid before removing and allowing to drain.

    Make the filling by mixing the mascarpone, crumbled bacon, chopped chives, salt and black pepper in a small bowl until the ingredients are well distributed. Set aside.

    To grill the pears, lightly coat the grill with vegetable oil and preheat to high, about 400 degrees. When it is hot, place the pears cut side down on the grill for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the flesh is lightly caramelized. Turn the pears over and fill them with about two tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Remove the pears from the grill when the mascarpone begins to melt. Serve immediately.

    To serve, arrange each pear half on a plate with some of the remaining mascarpone mixture on the side. Garnish with chopped chives.

    Streusel pear kuchen with fresh ginger Makes 1 (9-inch) kuchen, or about 8 servings The key point to keep in mind for this recipe is that the pears are to be ripe but firm, not at all squishy. INGREDIENTS 1 1/4 cups flour 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 6 pieces 3 tablespoons sour cream 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 2 teaspoons molasses 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 ripe but firm medium pears, peeled, cored, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

    Custard filling:

    3 large egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup flour 1/3 cup sour cream 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon molasses Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine flour, butter, sour cream, 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, ginger root, molasses, nutmeg and salt in food processor. Pulse machine until mixture is uniformly crumbed.

    Pat all but 1/2 cup mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of greased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on baking sheet. Set in freezer 10 minutes.

    Meanwhile, add remaining 3 tablespoons light brown sugar to 1/2 cup mixture remaining in food processor. Pulse until combined but still coarsely granulated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Bake tart shell on center rack at 375 degrees until lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes.

    Make custard. Place egg yolks, granulated sugar, flour, sour cream, ginger, vanilla and molasses in mixing bowl or bowl of food processor. Process until smooth and well combined.

    Remove shell from oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.

    Arrange pear slices overlapping each other in spiral pattern on bottom of hot crust, starting with outer edge and working toward center. Ladle custard filling into tart around edges and into any spaces. It is OK if filling spills onto pears. Sprinkle reserved crust mixture evenly over top.

    Bake until custard sets and pears are lightly golden, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream.

    Per serving: 343 cal.; 4 g pro.; 45 g carb.; 17 g fat; 139 mg chol.; 89 mg sod.

Pear recipes

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 8:52 pm

In season in Northern California: Late August through December.

How to choose good pears: Look for pears that are firm, but not too hard. They should have a smooth skin that is free of bruises or mold. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, the color of good quality pears may not be uniform, and in fact many have brown-speckled patches on the skin; “this is an acceptable characteristic and often times reflects a more intense flavor. Avoid pears that are punctured or have dark soft spots.” Unlike apples, most pear varieties do not ripen nicely while still on the tree. Pears that are allowed to become too mature or to ripen on the tree develop a coarse, mealy texture and often have core breakdown.

Taste: Meg Ryan described it best in the movie “City of Angels.” “Sweet, juicy. Soft on your tongue. Grainy, like sugar sand that dissolves in your mouth.”

Health benefits: A 2011 article published by the American Heart Association reports that eating one pear a day can reduce your risk of stroke by as much as 52 percent.



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