Friday, October 18, 2013

Carol’s Baked Winter Pears

My very dear friend Carol Brauner cooks with a conscience. When she told me that the naturally sweetened pears she’d just finished baking were a “macrobiotic” recipe, I must admit I had to look up the word. When I did, I was pleasantly surprised - and yet, knowing and respecting Carol as I do, I wasn’t surprised, at all.

“Macrobiotic” eating is mindful eating. It encourages chewing and discourages overeating. Based on the Taoist principles of yin and yang, it promotes grains and locally grown fruits and vegetables as staples. Avoiding the use of most animal products, a dietary regimen of macrobiotic eating avoids highly processed or refined foods.

I didn’t know all of that when I saw Carol’s Baked Winter Pears. All I knew was that they looked absolutely delicious, and that I wanted to make them in my kitchen, too. And so I did! As usual, I
’ve tweaked the recipe, which is what cooks so often do. Carol suggests that the raisins add the sweetness the pears need, and that the conventional oven brings out more flavor than the microwave oven would do. I used Anjou pears in this recipe, which, as written serves 2, but can easily be increased.

Carol’s Baked Winter Pears:

1 fresh pear, halved and unpeeled

1-to-2 tbsp. golden raisins 
Juice of large orange
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
1-to-2 tbsp. chopped or flaked almonds
Dash of salt
Low-calorie, great flavor: Carol’s Baked Winter Pears

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Place pear halves cut-side down in baking dish (Carol used a square Pyrex glass baking dish, approx. 9x9 in., so I did the same). Steam and plump raisins 3-to-5 min., covered, in a little water in microwave oven on high. Pour water-and-raisin mixture over pear halves, adding orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick, almonds, and salt around pear. Pour enough additional water into baking dish to bring total liquid to ½-in. around pears. Bake, covered, 25-to-30 min. in conventional oven. 

Straight from the oven … Delicious!

Carol lifts the cover for the last few minutes of cooking, to concentrate the juices. Serve warm or cold. 

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