It's that time of year. The nights are cooler but the days are still hot. Fruit and vegetables are ripening. Flowers are abundant. It's time to weed, water and relax.
It's also time for foragers to gather. It's time for us to liaise with those who have trees that they want us to pick.
I have Harvesters who have indicated they are ready to go. And also Trees that are loaded with fruit.
First up? PEARS
According to professional growers, pears should be allowed to ripen off the tree rather than on the stem. This is because pears will overdevelop on the plant, resulting in soft texture and overly sugared flesh. If you pick your pears when they have sweetly blushed skin but are still firm and slightly under-ripe, you can ripen them on the counter or in a paper bag for a week.
I have 3 locations for picking pears and a 4th (Asian pears) that needs to be checked.
If you want to get on a crew, or have a tree to harvest, there are links below. The form gets filled in right on the Drive.
See yah soon.
Bonus recipe- This is from the internet, but I have been making this tarte for decades.
You can also call it 3 recipes:
The sweet pastry
The poached pears,
It has a lot of steps, but if you want to do the entire recipe, there are ways: make the dough, wrap and chill or freeze; poach the pears and stash in the fridge or even use raw pears; assembly of the tarte.
Pear Frangipane Tart
Ingredients Tart Dough:
2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour fluffed, spooned, and leveled
⅓ cup (70 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
11 tablespoons (155 g; 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cubed
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups (1.4 L) cold water
2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise pod
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 strips lemon peel without the pith, plus half a lemon
3 pears firm yet slightly ripe
8 tablespoons (4 oz; 115 grams) unsalted butter softened
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (115 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (115 g) almond flour
3 large whole eggs room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon dark rum optional
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
lightly sweetened whipped cream optional
Prepare the Tart Dough: Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse until well mixed. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is well distributed into the flour. You shouldn't be able to see any distinguishable pieces. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and pulse continuously until the dough just starts to clump together. Note: It might appear very dry at first, but if you continue to pulse and process, it will come together. Be patient.
Transfer the dough and any smaller pieces to a clean countertop, and knead - pressing the dough down with the heel of your hand - until it is completely smooth. It will resemble a sugar cookie dough in texture. Press the dough into the greased tart pan (with a removable bottom) - it should be just under ¼-inch thick, you should have some dough leftover - and chill in the fridge for a minimum of one hour, or freeze for at least 30 minutes. If you are preparing the dough ahead of time: press it into a disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 days. If following this method, take the dough out of the fridge at least 15 to 20 minutes before rolling, as it will be too hard to roll right from the fridge. Roll the dough out (between pieces of parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking), carefully pick up and transfer the dough to the tart pan, using fingers to push in dough and gently shape the tart. If it cracks, just simply patch or press the pieces back together. This is a forgiving tart dough. Make sure to press dough tightly inside corners and sides. The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance or frozen up to a month ahead.
Poach the Pears: As the tart dough is chilling, poach the pears. Combine the cold water and granulated sugar in a medium pot (roughly 3-quart capacity). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise pod, vanilla bean paste, and lemon peel.
Peel the pears, leaving the stem on, and gently rub each pear with the lemon half to prevent the pears from oxidizing. Using melon baller or small paring knife, core the pears from the bottom end. Using a large spoon, gently lower the cored, whole pears into the poaching liquid. The poaching liquid should almost completely cover the pears.
Return the poaching liquid to a low simmer, cover the surface of the pot with a parchment round, and simmer the pears, occasionally flipping them during the cooking process, for about 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Remember that you will be cooling the pears in the liquid, so do not overcook. You can test whether the pears are done by piercing the pear (through the bottom end) with a paring knife. The pears should be tender, yet not at all mushy.
Cool the pears to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer the pears to a large container and refrigerate for up to one week. The poaching liquid can be kept, discarded, or used to store the poached pears. Try reusing the liquid for poaching other pears or as a simple syrup in cocktails, etc.
Blind Bake the Tart Shell: Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) with a rack in the center position. Lightly grease the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it, buttered side down, against the chilled tart dough. Fill the foil with baking weights, dried beans, or granulated sugar (all options work well). Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, and bake uncovered for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shell is lightly golden and cooked through. Set tart pan on a wire rack to cool completely before adding the frangipane and poached pears.
Make the Frangipane Filling: Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a hand-held mixer). Beat over medium speed until creamy. Over low speed, add the almond flour, alternating with egg until the ingredients are incorporated evenly. Add the flour and mix to combine. Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and rum (if using) and mix until just combined. Use right away if the other tart components are ready, or transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the Tart: Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Fill the pre-baked tart shell with the frangipane filling and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Place the poached pears on a few paper towels to help soak up any excess poaching liquid (this will help prevent it from seeping into the frangipane). Cut the poached pears in half, removing the stem and any core that might remain. Slice the pear halves crosswise into thin slices. Using a spatula, carefully lift each sliced pear half and place on the frangipane, with the narrow end of the pear facing the center of the tart, fanning the slices apart slightly as you work. Repeat with the remaining pear halves, spacing them evenly around the tart.
Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 40 to 55 minutes, or until the frangipane has risen substantially around the pears and is deep golden brown in color. Note: *If your oven runs hot, you may wish to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. If the edges of the tart are gaining color too quickly, you can lightly cover them with a ring of foil - be sure to cook the filling through completely. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool until lukewarm or room temperature before removing the sides of the tart pan.
Before serving, dust lightly with powdered sugar. Serve plain or with whipped cream. While you can prepare several components of this tart ahead, it is best served the day of baking. Any leftovers can be kept at room temperature for 1 to 2 days.