Visiting home reminds me of how fun cooking really is! There’s always a surprise, a new concoction, a new cooking method mami and I debate over, a new ingredient papi came across and starts using in everything and of course the treat of eating our classical dishes. The unpredictability of what is liable to show up on the counter for anyone’s enjoyment makes life so sweet.
By starch contrast, cooking in Atlanta is almost a chore. I know when and what I’m cooking 80% of the time. It’s either 10+ flans for pick-up on Fridays, a last minute call for a dinner or cocktail party, in which case I have 5 go-to menus ready to go, and cooking for myself always entails little deviation from my poor girl food options: rice, eggs, tuna, tomatoes and onions– all on the same plate.
No element of surprise here.
Thank God my my favorite time of the year has knocked on my door. Everything about fall and winter makes me the most jovial woman ever. I’m filled with giddy feelings of love, warmth, giving, spontaneity and of course unplanned shopping. Fall food options are sexy, delicious and more than inviting!
They foster a sense of comfort and wealth. I love it!
So, when mami walked in with three pounds of Bosc pears last week, I knew immediately they couldn’t just be bitten into. They’re in season which makes them perfect to keep in full stock all winter long. Something soft and perfumey had to be made. Something that would be pacify every emotion without leaving with a huge sense of sinful guilt.
When experimenting at home with mami or even papi, it’s most fun to retrospectively realize we take certain foods for granted. These pears are a perfect example. They’re not really part of the Latin cuisine. I don’t remember seeing a single pear tree in Havana, let alone sold at any of the super mercados.
If you consider Bosc pears are winter pears and harvest from October through April, it’s obvious why they don’t grow in Cuba. But, we don’t even have imported varieties. And if I really think about it (not that I’m hawking other shoppers) I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Latin person buy pears when grocery shopping. Shocking. But, our fruits are naturally more tropical and they’re damn tasty. When you’re limited to one certain cuisine, you rob yourself of so much goodness. Fortunately for me, our family is very much acclimated to all things Americana (and international) so our palates are attracted to just about anything and most foods are fair game.
I’m a gringa for the most part. So yes, I eat a lot of non-Latin foods and as you would guess, make a lot of fusion food.
A lot of gringa in me is exhibited in the excitement I shared in this fantastic pear dessert post two years ago. It turned out to be so delicate and offered pure bliss during a chilly fall day. I was convinced I’d be making it all season long. Yeah, not so much. Ask if I’ve made it since… a poor excuse for not making it since last 2009 would be pura vagancia. But, it’s one of those quintessential comfort desserts that never gets old.
That impromptu dessert mami made inspired these sautéed pears. I went for accessible ingredients, again, using up the remaining Brandy I used for the reduction sauce used in the goat cheese flan and lamb sauce. I thought ginger would be strinkingly appropriate, especially since I’d been using it to boil to kill this cold. Mami submitted her authoritative input and insisted I add a few chunks of fresh pineapple, a fruit she can eat by the pounds.
There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to this recipe other than my desire to eat something really delicious without expending too much thought or energy. It was raining in DC and I needed comfort food.
The pears were crisp and the pineapples were ultra sweet. The marriage could only be timeless. All I needed to make was a tasty syrup these pears could bathe in. That was elementary enough.
Don’t be fooled by its simplicity my friends. Once the pears are cooked and the syrup is done, what you end up eating is a forkful of butter soft pears that go down as smooth as a serving of fine Brandy.
Unlike my mom’s version, I left out cloves and butter (since I wasn’t roasting). This glaze was thinner than mami’s, but just as luscious. And truthfully, if you’re pressed for time, make these instead. 15 minutes and you’re done!
Save the other ones for when you have more time and want something your eye can’t miss.
This is exactly what I need: fast, simple, over the top good and flexible enough to make over and over without a recipe. 4 pears yielded enough for 12 servings. This is what you call an every day, sit on the counter, offer to anyone that walks in the door kinda good, good dessert!
Happy, delicious and uber sexy fall to you! There’s more to come!
* on our second night of enjoying these lovely pears, we paired them with a few slices of cream cheese. Who knew pears and cream cheese would work!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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BRANDY GLAZED PEARS WITH GINGER AND PINEAPPLE
- 4 Bosc pears, peeled and sliced
- 1.5 cup sugar in the raw
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup French Brandy
- 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
- 3 tbsp. ginger, grated
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
In large, deep skillet, add sugar, water and ginger and stir. Cook on medium heat until sugar has fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Add pears and nutmeg and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low over and let cook until pears are tender, about 15 minutes and sauce has thickened a bit. Uncover and Brandy and pineapples. Simmer for 10 minutes until pineapple has softened and Brandy is infused.
* this dessert is great with ice cream, cream cheese slices or rum cake.