February 23, 2008

A Riff on Dressy Applesauce

I love reading recipes and ogling gorgeous food photography. I have binders of printed recipes from blogs and websites and a compulsive desire to buy cookbooks that I barely keep in check. That is partially why I am so excited about the new Gourmet website.

It has a look and feel that I prefer to Epicurious and interesting articles. I especially like their "Politics of the Plate" column with recent posts about the FDA's definition of milk, and the ridiculousness of organic seafood and the USDA's pending rules.

While perusing the site for the first time I stumbled upon an interesting dessert recipe designed for one. However, it was the picture and the idea, not so much the actual recipe that caught my attention. The idea is to dress up applesauce, but I'm not a big applesauce fan (at least since I've been old enough to drive). So I took the picture and came up with an idea that I thought would be a tasty alternative.

The result is a fast way of taking a pear and making an outstanding dessert in about 10-15 minutes. Think pear crisp for one. Although for one it's a large dessert (or slightly decadent breakfast), it can easily be split for two. The recipe also scales really well. Use your favorite pear variety, but choose one that is still on the firm side of ripe; I used a red d'Anjou.

Pear Crumble

1 firm-ripe pear
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 slice crusty bread (I used half of a ciabatta roll)
1 scant tbs butter
2 tbs chopped walnuts
pinch salt
2 tsp brown sugar

Core and chop pear into a medium dice an place in a small bowl. Heat a small skillet on medium. Add the vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon to the pears and stir to coat well. Scrape the mixture into the skillet and cover.

Cook for about 2 minutes, then stir. Cover again and cook for another 2 minutes. Uncover and cook the pears, stirring gently, for about another minute. The pears should have soften and released some moisture, but not started to disintegrate yet.

Scrape the pears and any liquid into a serving glass or bowl. Place the skillet back on the burner.

Add the butter to the skillet. Quickly process the bread into crumbs in a food processor or chop finely with a chef's knife. When the butter has melted add the breadcrumbs, nuts, and salt. Cook until the crumbs start to color and then add the sugar. Cook for another minute stirring vigorously (the sugar will make the mixture start to stick if you don't).

Add the topping to the pears and (if desired) top with some vanilla whipped cream.

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