Dolce Italiano

img_7323Hope you can will bear with me here, because this post is a maelstrom of pears, Parmesan cheese, chrysanthemums, honey and biscotti. It all began when I found a recipe for Pears and Parmesan Drizzled with Honey in “The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook,” by Jack Bishop, and then recalled the Italian saying, “Don’t tell the peasants how good cheese is with pears,” and before you know it I was at the grocery store looking at pears. That’s all it took! I found four different kinds of pears: Bosc (brown), red, Anjou (green) and little Forelle pears (in the bowl). Pears are so beautiful!img_7328Then from my own cupboard I took a jar of honey purchased at a local farm. With that and with a wedge of fresh Parmesan, I was ready to go.

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You can serve slices of the ripe pear with a small piece of cheese if you like.

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But I decided also to try something fancier, following the recipe from the cookbook.

Pears and Parmesan Drizzled with Honey

3 large, ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
small piece of fresh Parmesan
2 tablespoons honey

Arrange the pear slices on a dessert plate. With a vegetable peeler, remove curls of the cheese, letting the curls artistically fall onto the pears. (At least we can try.) Use a small spoon to drizzle the honey over the pears. Serve immediately.

Notes: The main thing to remember here is to use ripe, juicy pears. Also, you can cut off the side of a pear, make incisions in it, and fan it out, for a nice presentation (see below). But again, this only works if the pear is ripe and juicy.

img_7315 img_7316When I was looking at the pear and cheese recipe, I made the mistake of turning the page, and found a wonderful-sounding biscotti recipe: Cornmeal Biscotti with Dried Cherries, and I had to try! These are not typical biscotti, as they are made with butter. They are absolutely delicious–chubby buttery little things, crunchy with cornmeal, and with sweet zings of dried cherry.

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Cornmeal Biscotti with Dried Cherries

1 cup flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or brandy
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour mixing. Beat (slowly) with an electric mixer until the mixture resembled coarse crumbs. Mix together the egg, vanilla and lemon zest. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix together. Stir in the dried cherries.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a log about 12 inches long and 1 inch across. Place the two logs on the baking sheet. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and cut the logs into 1-inch-wide diagonal slices.

Lay the slices on their side on the baking sheet and return to the oven for about 8 minutes, or until crisp.

Baking notes: Dried cherries can be expensive (as opposed to cherry-flavored dried cranberries), but I found a small bag for $3.99, and used them here, and was glad. The cherry flavor is really delicious. When adding the chopped dried cherries to the dough, sprinkle them evenly over the dough so the pieces are evenly divided. If there are clumps, it makes the finished cookie crumbly to cut.

Photos below show the crumbly dry mixture, the dough ready to be formed, and the dough logs ready for baking.

Another pix of the little Forelle pears.
img_7336Hope you enjoy! Keep the faith. Fran

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One last photo–just as a reminder of summer.

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