Sunday, November 29, 2009

"i've got you to thank"

the food: Rustic Pear Pie
the song: "You to Thank" Ben Folds

Is it really over? All that planning and cooking and eating. And now, here we sit, getting ready to go back to work tomorrow. We're hanging on to these last precious hours. This cloudy afternoon has been spent napping, petting cats, and eating delicious leftover pie, which I'm about to share with you.

Thanksgiving was an almost-perfect success, filled with good people and good food. Before I completely let it go, I wanted to share a few of the stand-out recipes from the dinner. After all, the season of holiday gorging is just getting started. There are still plenty of opportunities to make these special dishes. And besides, it is nice to take a moment to relish in our Thanksgiving victories.
I'm also taking time this afternoon to plan some simple, un-fussy foods for the week. Expect some healthy recipes coming soon. For now...pie.

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious, which calls it
Butterscotch Pear Pie. That name throws me off. To me, butterscotch conjures up images of a thick, very rich, sweet goo. There is nothing "butterscotch-y" about this, so I'm leaving that word out. If we need an adjective to make this pie sound more enticing, I'd like to suggest "Rustic Pear Pie." I like that word, and I think it fits. The pears are cut quite thick and seasoned with simple but delicious spices. The egg wash makes the top crust especially colorful. It is a very classic taste, which is updated by the inclusion of pears instead of apples. But if rustic doesn't do it for you, feel free to substitute whichever word you like best. If you need inspiration, here are a few synonyms for yummy.

Rustic Pear Pie
adapted from Epicurious

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (I subbed about 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5 Spice for these last 2 ingredients. All spice would probably be fine, too.)

pinch salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 pounds firm-ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into 6 pieces (or 8 if you're using your apple corer)

juice from 1/2 orange
OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla OR almond extract

double recipe pastry dough (or a box of Pillsbury pie crust, if you're me)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon warm water
(for egg wash)
Put a baking sheet on middle rack of oven and preheat to 425.

Whisk together flour, spices, and salt, then whisk in brown sugar, breaking up any lumps. Gently toss pears with brown sugar mixture, orange juice, and vanilla and let stand 15 minutes so flavors can soak in.

Fit 1 piece of prepared dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with second pie crust. Trim edges, leaving 1/2 inch overhang (reserve scraps). Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with some egg wash, then cut 3 1-inch-long vents. If you're feeling creative, roll out dough scraps and cut out leaf shapes, or turkey shapes, or reindeer. Arrange on top of pie, pressing gently to help them stick.

Bake pie on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375 degrees and bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40-45 minutes more. Wait for a little while for the pie to cool so you don't burn your mouth. Serve on it's own, or with vanilla ice cream if you're feeling extra awesome.

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