Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Peck of Pears - Part 3

My first Thanksgiving away from home was when I was at college. My sister, who lived in the area, invited me to come over and break turkey with her. For the two of us we had an enormous turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and two pumpkin pies. We got so hungry waiting for the turkey to cook, that before it was out of the oven we'd eaten one whole pumpkin pie.

When we sat down to our plates of turkey and fixings I decided what it needed was gravy. My sister said that she didn't know how to make gravy, but I said, no problem, I'd make it, gravy is easy. Well, not so much if you've never actually made gravy and don't have a recipe to follow. What I ended up with was a glutinous white sauce. Not really tasty as a gravy substitute. It was years before my sister stopped teasing me about my mad, hot gravy-making skills.

In the intervening years I've learned how to make gravy and also learned how to time the prep work of all the dishes so you don't have rolls, pies, and a 20 lb turnkey all jockeying for position in the oven. This year, though, things changed. My newly married daughter, her husband, and her in-laws would be joining us for Thanksgiving. She offered to bring the rolls and 2 other dishes, so that cleared a big space on my Thanksgiving day to-do list.

So when I walked into the kitchen Thursday morning and saw the last of the bag of pears sitting on the counter, I had a risky thought. Should I try something new? Very risky, indeed. But I had possibly enough leftover pie dough in the refrigerator and all the ingredients for a new pie recipe that I'd been eyeing for two weeks. Putting aside common sense, I went for it.

With my helper peeling pears, it went together quickly and easily. I didn't have enough crust to make a lattice top and I put on a crumbly streusel topping instead. It went perfectly with the flavors of the pie - sweet, tangy, gently spicy, and altogether wonderful. The only thing I'd do differently next time would be to add a bit of instant tapioca to the fruit mixture to keep it from turning into pie soup.

Cranberry-Pecan-Pear Streusel Pie

1 unbaked pie shell
4 cups sliced, peeled fresh pears (about 5 medium)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Instant tapioca - 1 to 2 Tbsp (optional)

Streusel topping:

1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold

1- Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.

2- In a bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, pecans, honey, butter, cornstarch, lemon peel and cinnamon; pour into crust. If mixture looks very juicy, stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp of instant tapioca.

3- Mix streusel ingredients in a small bowl and cut butter into dry ingredients until it’s crumbly. Sprinkle streusel over the pie.

4- Bake at 400 deg. F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 deg. F and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Oh goodness, I could NEVER have Thanksgiving away from home - I love my family too much!! But hey, you learned more kitchen expertise while being away, so I guess it CAN be a good thing ;-)

Lovely streusel pie!!

Anonymous said...

This sounds really good, Lynn! Did you like it?
I love your gravy story. The strainer hides a multiple of lumpy sins!

Helene said...

Sounds and looks wonderful Lynn!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

My mom taught me to use tapioca for pie thickener. I tried arrow root for awhile but I've gone back to tapioca because it just works.
Pear, Cranberry sounds really good about now.

Sarah said...

what a tasty sounding pie! fruit pies kind of scare me...i am always afraid they will be too runny. one of these days i will conquer my fears!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Pear is an underutilzed fruit for pies...but it is so darn good!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lynn, while we dwell on the gravy as a source of amusement, it should be noted that the rest of the meal was excellent, including the pre-consumed pie!

The pie was fabulous. I thought I tasted ginger, but clearly I was wrong. Thanks for the hospitality and delicious food. We have much to be thankful for!

CookiePie said...

OOOOH - that pie looks fabulous!

Aimée said...

I bet your place smelled amazing while this was cooking, Lynn. Yum!

LyB said...

I love the streusel topping, what a great idea! The flavor combination in this pie sounds delicious.

Maria said...

Looks delicious! I love the crumb topping!

grace said...

i feel like pears are undeservingly (is that a word?) overshadowed by apples too much of the time. that being said, your pie is glorious, and a wonderful use of the overlooked fruit. :)

Deborah said...

I went out on a limb this year and made the rolls even though they are something that I'm usually not very good at. Luckily, they turned out great! This pie sounds wonderful to me!

RecipeGirl said...

You know... I love pears. I've never, ever put them in a pie though. What a great combo. of flavors!

Jennifer Ludgin said...

Wow, serious yum!!! :) Great job!

Roving Lemon said...

Hi Lynn! I just found your blog (via Under the High Chair) and I'm really enjoying it! This pie looks yummy--I tried baking with pears myself last week for maybe the second time ever. Pear-Cherry turnovers, because cherries are in season here and I had some pears!

Marysol said...

Pears and Cranberries, always a winning combination this time of year. You did well, grasshoppa.