How to make pear cream pie
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Lately, I've been sorting cookbooks.
Hundreds of cookbooks I can't part with are in boxes. I will never give away volumes by Richard Olney, who taught me much about French cooking, or Paula Peck's "The Art of Fine Baking." I can't give up Marcella Hazan's books on Italian cooking. The list goes on and on.
There are books I never cook from but love looking through, books on Tibetan cuisine and Egyptian fare.
Then there are the boxes of clipped recipes and the boxes of late, lamented Gourmet magazines. Let's don't even go there. (Yes, I have watched the television show "Hoarders." No comment.)
You might think I would turn to the Internet for recipes while the books are packed away. Sometimes, I have done just that. Some sites are reliable and helpful. But a few times, I have been burned. Who edits these things, anyhow? (Once I trustingly wasted lots of ingredients on a triple recipe of a gingerbread I have been making for years, only to discover that a measurement had been given wrong on the Internet version.) It's annoying, too, to find other cooks appropriating James Beard's soda bread recipe word for word, ingredient for ingredient. He isn't around now to defend himself, hasn't been for years. I bear a grudge on his behalf.
Instead of turning to the Internet while books are in boxes, I am comforted by the words of my niece Rachael Ross.
As I hesitated to part with a clipped-out recipe for cobbler, Rachael said, "If there's anyone who already knows how to make cobbler without a recipe, it's you."
It's true. I can combine pears with ginger or five-spice powder, as some recipes suggest, without having a printed reminder. Since childhood, I have been able to make fried potatoes that are "pret' near" as good as my grandmother's, no recipe required. My apple pie is not quite as good as hers, but most folks haven't tasted hers.
I say this not to boast, but just to say: Cooking fearlessly is an anchor in a life of change.
PEAR CREAM PIE
I confess I don't know the source for the original version of this recipe, which called for peaches, not pears. In any case, it has been substantially tweaked. I found it in one of my two tin recipe-card boxes, which are never far out of sight.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 or 5 pears, peeled and sliced
1 deep single-crust unbaked 9-inch pie shell, purchased or homemade
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a heavy cookie sheet or half sheet pan in the oven to preheat.
2. In a bowl, fluff together flour, sugar, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Remove about half the mixture from the bowl and reserve. To the remainder, add pear slices and toss gently to coat. Place in pie shell.
3. Pour cream into crust, and dot with butter. Sprinkle reserved flour mixture evenly over the top. Carefully place pie on heated cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake about 35 minutes longer. (If edges begin to brown too fast, cover them with foil.) Cool before serving. Makes 8 servings.