Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In the beginning, there was food!

I love to cook. Real food, with real ingredients, plain and simple. Cooking is one of my favourite past times. It all started with an easy bake oven, a very willing and culinary adventurous brother and a mom who encouraged us make anything we wanted, so long as we ate it. (And cleaned up the mess...) We came up with some absolutely noxious concoctions, which we dutifully ate, and mostly never made again. But it fostered a love of creativity in the kitchen which follows us both to this day. When I left home and moved into my first apartment, my then boyfriend (now husband of 16 years) and I ventured into the world of vegetarianism. Going back some 22 years ago, vegetarian cuisine was far from mainstream, and I had to get creative in order to keep us fed. I remember we ate a whole lot of pasta in the beginning! But, a few cookbooks, disasters, and even more successes later, I became quite confident in the kitchen. Being vegetarian for close to 15 years encouraged us to try a lot of different foods that we probably never would have tried, and made us, I think, much more adventurous eaters. We have since started eating chicken and fish again, but still avoid red meat. This sometimes seems limiting, recipe wise, but I love to try and adapt recipes to suit our habits, substituting when possible and coming up with new and fun food to try all the time. We are not ones to eat the same thing time and time again, although we do have our tried and true favourite recipes. I am also kind of famous for not using recipes at all, which can be awkward when someone really likes it and wants the recipe! My grandma was like this as well, I am still trying to re-create her rhubarb pie! It consisted of a bit of this and some of that, and was awesome, to say the least. I have come close, but the exact recipe still eludes me, it is a springtime quest every year, with me trying a few new recipes when the rhubarb comes up in my garden. The more I think about this whole blogging thing, the better I think it is, because it will force me to write down what I do!

For my very first post, I figured I would share the pear tart that I made for Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house. It is the perfect blend of pastry, custard, and ripe pears, a very nice finish for a turkey dinner! I found the original recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com/ , one of the recipe sites that I use quite often. I have tweaked it to fit my Pampered Chef pie plate and my taste buds. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Pear Custard Tart

Makes 1- 10" pie

Pastry (1/4 of the recipe to follow)

6 ripe pears (I have used Bartlett, but I imagine any would do) peeled and cut into 1/8's


1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

6 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla

Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Roll out pastry and fit into pie plate. Flute edges, or decorate as desired. (I used a small snowman cookie cutter, and cut enough to fit around the entire edge overlapping so only the round body showed. I then poked a hole in the bottom so it resembled the bottom of a pear. I dampened this and sprinkled with sugar for a fancier look.)

Peel, core and cut pears into 8 wedges. Lay them in circles to fit the pie plate, small ends towards the middle.

Beat the sugar and the butter till creamy. Beat in Eggs one at a time, until fluffy. Add vanilla and flour, beat till well mixed. Pour evenly over the pears. Sprinkle cinnamon on top if desired.

Bake for 1 hour in 350 preheated oven, until pears are soft and custard is set in the center. Cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

Perfect Pastry

5 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp salt

1 lb shortening (you can use lard, but I chose the non animal based shortening)

1 egg

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cold water to make 1 cup

Measure dry ingredients into large bowl, and mix well.

Cut shortening into smaller pieces, add to flour mixture and cut in with pastry blender until whole mixture looks crumbly.

Beat egg in measuring cup. Add vinegar, and then add cold water to make a total of 1 cup of liquids. Stir into dry ingredients with a fork to distribute, and then use hands to mix until it begins to stick together. Divide into 4 pieces. ***I put each piece into a sandwich size zip lock bag, flatten and expel excess air before zipping. It makes it very easy to store and quick to thaw.

Keeps in fridge for 2 weeks, freezes very well.

1 comment:

  1. This tart was good even when the pears weren't tender! I would consider an addition of yogurt to supplant some of the fat from the eggs...I do this with Sweet Potato Pie and it works great! 1/4C to 1 yolk....only works for custards though...it would suck in scrambled eggs.