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February 2006

Our Father's Favorite Christmas Pears!

Bethaneal One of the things about a good recipe, is that they change a bit over time and become personal in the hands of the chef! Such is the case with this particular dessert, my own fathers personal favorite! We first became acquainted with it many years ago in Atlantic City at Bruno's Knife and Fork, a basic chop house known for decent  steaks and not much else! Well, it quickly became my mother's  raison d etre' to replicate it and for months she tried without success. Chocolate pear dessert (as it was known then) is made of just three ingredients, semi sweet chocolate chips, whipping cream and pears. Not too tough, but mom just couldn't make it work! No matter what she tried, the chocolate just wouldn't harden! Finally in desperation, she called the restaurant and begged for the secret! I still remember when she got off of the phone shaking her head muttering, "canned pears, can you believe they use canned pears?" 

Well, it turns out that canned pears are absolutely the trick, but not without one other magical ingredient! About half of a cup of the warmed pear syrup from the can is what it takes to make the chocolate harden perfectly , creating a velvety chocolate shell that is a delightful foil to the whipped cream and pears  nestled underneath! Dance forward a few years, and I'm a young married woman having my best friend Bethane and her husband over for dinner. Of course I made these pears for dessert, Bethane is a confirmed chocolate addict (her husband wooed her in high school by putting Hershey bars in her glove box as love gifts!) and I knew that they would be perfect! She loved them of course, and later called my mother for the recipe. Bethane began to make these for her father who begged for them every Christmas, and they became known as Al's Christmas Pears! I must give credit where it is due and tell you that she has made a good recipe even better! I have been begging her for a few years now to tell me what she added and finally I know! Her additions are simple, but they make all of the difference between a good dessert and a really great dessert. And if you're like me, I know that you'll prefer a great dessert!

The picture taken by Dr. Carl Evans is of Bethane (with a chocolate ice cream cone of course!), Laurel, her daughter and her father Al, gone several years now, but still one of the two amazing dad's in my life. I loved that man, and every year since his death we have his Christmas pears on Yule night. There's always more gone then we remember serving , so I know he's still getting his share!

You will need:

2 14 and a half oz cans of pear halves with lite syrup (not juice!)

1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream

1 twelve oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips

Bethane's addtions are:

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a shot of really good scotch!

Drain and chill the pears (reserving the syrup!) and layer them in a pretty bowl (then chill some more!)

Whip the cream until stiff and spread over the chilled pears, then put them into the freezer for a while so that they are really cold , but not frozen solid!

Melt the chocolate alone in a double boiler, and add a dash of cinnamon. Add a little warmed pear juice about 1/2 a cup (must be warm!) to which you've added more cinnamon, good fresh nutmeg and the scotch stirring until pourable.

Pour the chocolate over the pears and refrigerate or freeze until set!

Easy and Perfect!


Our Father's Favorite Christmas Pears!

Bethaneal One of the things about a good recipe, is that they change a bit over time and become personal in the hands of the chef! Such is the case with this particular dessert, my own fathers personal favorite! We first became acquainted with it many years ago in Atlantic City at Bruno's Knife and Fork, a basic chop house known for decent  steaks and not much else! Well, it quickly became my mother's  raison d etre' to replicate it and for months she tried without success. Chocolate pear dessert (as it was known then) is made of just three ingredients, semi sweet chocolate chips, whipping cream and pears. Not too tough, but mom just couldn't make it work! No matter what she tried, the chocolate just wouldn't harden! Finally in desperation, she called the restaurant and begged for the secret! I still remember when she got off of the phone shaking her head muttering, "canned pears, can you believe they use canned pears?" 

Well, it turns out that canned pears are absolutely the trick, but not without one other magical ingredient! About half of a cup of the warmed pear syrup from the can is what it takes to make the chocolate harden perfectly , creating a velvety chocolate shell that is a delightful foil to the whipped cream and pears  nestled underneath! Dance forward a few years, and I'm a young married woman having my best friend Bethane and her husband over for dinner. Of course I made these pears for dessert, Bethane is a confirmed chocolate addict (her husband wooed her in high school by putting Hershey bars in her glove box as love gifts!) and I knew that they would be perfect! She loved them of course, and later called my mother for the recipe. Bethane began to make these for her father who begged for them every Christmas, and they became known as Al's Christmas Pears! I must give credit where it is due and tell you that she has made a good recipe even better! I have been begging her for a few years now to tell me what she added and finally I know! Her additions are simple, but they make all of the difference between a good dessert and a really great dessert. And if you're like me, I know that you'll prefer a great dessert!

The picture taken by Dr. Carl Evans is of Bethane (with a chocolate ice cream cone of course!), Laurel, her daughter and her father Al, gone several years now, but still one of the two amazing dad's in my life. I loved that man, and every year since his death we have his Christmas pears on Yule night. There's always more gone then we remember serving , so I know he's still getting his share!

You will need:

2 14 and a half oz cans of pear halves with lite syrup (not juice!)

1/2 pint of heavy whipping cream

1 twelve oz bag of semi sweet chocolate chips

Bethane's addtions are:

Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a shot of really good scotch!

Drain and chill the pears (reserving the syrup!) and layer them in a pretty bowl (then chill some more!)

Whip the cream until stiff and spread over the chilled pears, then put them into the freezer for a while so that they are really cold , but not frozen solid!

Melt the chocolate alone in a double boiler, and add a dash of cinnamon. Add a little warmed pear juice about 1/2 a cup (must be warm!) to which you've added more cinnamon, good fresh nutmeg and the scotch stirring until pourable.

Pour the chocolate over the pears and refrigerate or freeze until set!

Easy and Perfect!


Smoked Blue Cheese soup with Port

I love soup! In fact, I've never met anyone who doesn't enjoy a steaming bowl of great soup, along with some good bread and a salad on a cold winters night! Last nights inspiration came from a wedge of Rogue Creamery's "Smoky Blue" that was leftover from New Years, and a bottle of Tawny port that I hadn't put away yet! Add a bit a bacon, some potatoes and a generous ladleful of cream and you have a very elegant soup. I've added a description from IGourmet for the Rogue Creamery blue. It's guaranteed to make you want to run out and buy the biggest chunk of it that you can afford! Trust me, it's worth it!  So far I've melted it on hamburgers, crumbled it onto salads, made this soup and served it with pears and great bread. If you are a native Clevelander like me, you can buy this wonderful cheese at Pat O'Briens, THE fine wine and beverage store located in Landerwood Plaza in Pepper Pike.

2005_1226soup0008" Rogue Creamery's "Oregon Blue" is the first blue cheese recipe made on the west coast and they thought it only fitting that this classic recipe become the first blue cheese ever smoked. The result is magic! "Oregon Blue" is a classic Roquefort style blue cheese that is cold smoked 16 hours with Oregon Hazelnut shells. The smoking process releases a sweet creamy Smokey flavor that balances both the sharp blue flavor and sweet creamy flavor of the 100% natural full cream sustainable milk from Bonanza View Dairy."

The recipe is very simple. Just saute a cup of chopped onion,and about a cup and a half of diced bacon with  a half a stick   of butter in a soupot until gently browned. Add 3 cups of diced redskin potatoes and 6 cups of good chicken broth and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add about 2 and a half cups of crumbled blue cheese, for this I used a combination of the smoked blue and some stilton.  Stir that in (it melts easily)and add a pint of heavy cream. Let the whole thing just simmer nicely for about 10 minutes, and then add about 2 shot glasses of port!  Because this was such a creamy soup I  added some chopped green onion for a pretty garnish.

I served this last night as a main course with a simple salad of fresh pear and red onion dressed with a French apple cider vinegar and a bit of garlic oil and of course, lots of good bread!  I have some of this soup leftover, and tonight I will probably serve it as a first course with a pear and pecan puree  and a tiny bit of shredded pork. Look for pictures later!   


Smoked Blue Cheese soup with Port

I love soup! In fact, I've never met anyone who doesn't enjoy a steaming bowl of great soup, along with some good bread and a salad on a cold winters night! Last nights inspiration came from a wedge of Rogue Creamery's "Smoky Blue" that was leftover from New Years, and a bottle of Tawny port that I hadn't put away yet! Add a bit a bacon, some potatoes and a generous ladleful of cream and you have a very elegant soup. I've added a description from IGourmet for the Rogue Creamery blue. It's guaranteed to make you want to run out and buy the biggest chunk of it that you can afford! Trust me, it's worth it!  So far I've melted it on hamburgers, crumbled it onto salads, made this soup and served it with pears and great bread. If you are a native Clevelander like me, you can buy this wonderful cheese at Pat O'Briens, THE fine wine and beverage store located in Landerwood Plaza in Pepper Pike.

2005_1226soup0008" Rogue Creamery's "Oregon Blue" is the first blue cheese recipe made on the west coast and they thought it only fitting that this classic recipe become the first blue cheese ever smoked. The result is magic! "Oregon Blue" is a classic Roquefort style blue cheese that is cold smoked 16 hours with Oregon Hazelnut shells. The smoking process releases a sweet creamy Smokey flavor that balances both the sharp blue flavor and sweet creamy flavor of the 100% natural full cream sustainable milk from Bonanza View Dairy."

The recipe is very simple. Just saute a cup of chopped onion,and about a cup and a half of diced bacon with  a half a stick   of butter in a soupot until gently browned. Add 3 cups of diced redskin potatoes and 6 cups of good chicken broth and let the whole thing simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add about 2 and a half cups of crumbled blue cheese, for this I used a combination of the smoked blue and some stilton.  Stir that in (it melts easily)and add a pint of heavy cream. Let the whole thing just simmer nicely for about 10 minutes, and then add about 2 shot glasses of port!  Because this was such a creamy soup I  added some chopped green onion for a pretty garnish.

I served this last night as a main course with a simple salad of fresh pear and red onion dressed with a French apple cider vinegar and a bit of garlic oil and of course, lots of good bread!  I have some of this soup leftover, and tonight I will probably serve it as a first course with a pear and pecan puree  and a tiny bit of shredded pork. Look for pictures later!