Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Try This Sensational Pear Bread

Most Tennessee Valley gardens are winding down, and the cold weather in the forecast for the next few days will likely put an end to crops that are not under plastic. If, like me, you have an abundance of fresh herbs at the end of the season, consider making flavored oil or butter. Either one is a great way to preserve fresh herb flavors for another month or more. This year, I have dill, cilantro, mint, parsley, and tarragon all flourishing, thanks to the mild fall weather.

As a rule, use about two tablespoons of minced fresh herb to season a stick of butter. Mix the softened butter with the herb and then form into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap, then in foil and freeze. Frozen, the log will keep for six months.

Herb oils are a little more trouble, but still simple to make. Place equal volumes of chopped fresh herb and the oil of your choice in the top of a double boiler. Place over barely simmering water and steep for 1 hour. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. The following day, bring the oil to room temperature and filter it through a coffee filter. Store the herb oil in the refrigerator for a month.

I love making quick breads, and this week's featured recipe has quickly become one of my favorites. The recipe makes the right amount of batter for a disposable foil loaf pan. A standard loaf pan is larger. The recipe is easily multiplied, if you prefer. If you wish, you can increase the amounts of vanilla and cinnamon.

Serve the bread with fresh berries, or a poached or roasted pear half. Or enjoy it by itself. Either way, this is a delicious way to enjoy the seasonal flavor of pears.

John's Pear Bread
(1 loaf)

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, well beaten
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little more)
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (or a little more)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
One ripe yellow Bartlett pear, peeled, stemmed, cored and finely diced

                Preheat the oven to 300°F. Oil a foil loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil, egg and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, mixing well with a wire whisk. Using a large spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the liquid, mixing to form a uniform batter. Fold in the diced pear. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smooth down the top with the spoon, and place in the oven on the middle shelf. Bake for 1 ½ hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely, then return to the pan and store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.  

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