Quince and Pear Sauce – Just in time for Chanuka

This time I am going to be organized.  I am going to post the holiday recipe before the holiday before the holiday is over, so that all you people can actually use it :).

Recently I found myself with some quinces in my fridge.  They were sending “Eat Me” messages and I really didn’t want them to go to waste.  On top of that, I have been feeling rather lazy lately and all I want to do when I get home from work is – nothing.  Yup, that’s right people, nothing.  I just went through a crazy busy time at work while I covered for the two department heads (congrats to both – one on a baby girl and the other on getting married!) and after working anywhere between 10 and 15 hours a day – all I want to do is, yes you guessed it, nothing.

Fruit Sauce
Chunky fruit sauce

Working against this force of laziness is Rocker Dude.  Well, not exactly against it so much as diverting it to laziness of another sort.  He keeps loading up episodes of our favorite tv shows on the computer for me to watch.  We are trying to catch up on Chuck and keeping updated with The Big Bang Theory.  And best of all, now that Shabbat ends early enough to actually do something afterwards, we have been watching movies again Saturday night.  The other week, Rocker Dude sat me down and told me that it was time for me to watch Captain America.  As our house is full of comic books, and Rocker Dude’s goal in life is to one day own all comic-related movies, it was obvious that when Captain America came out in the summer, he would be the first in line to see it.  Well he wasn’t the first, but he made sure to see it shortly after it came out. I feel less strongly about seeing movies in theaters (it’s kind of a waste of money) so I waited until we had a copy of it before I saw it.  Rocker Dude downloaded a copy (oh no he didn’t!) and has been waiting for a while to be able to watch it with me.  Apparently now was the time.

I decided to not waste time (for once) and take advantage of the time that we would spend watching the movie.  I took the two quinces that were getting old and lonely in the fruit bin and the red pear that was not quite sweet enough to be appetizing.

Quinces are notoriously hard to deal with – they are really hard – like a pain in the neck to cut  and peel – and you can’t eat them without cooking them first. But, due to the fact that these quinces were a bit old, they had softened and I could peel them and cut them off the core pretty easily.

I cut the quinces up into chunks and threw them into a saucepan (I know, boiling on the fire is not technically baking, but it ends up as a dessert so it  counts.)  I peeled and cut up the pear and threw that in the pot.  Added some water and boiled the fruit.

Then I sat down to watch Captain America.

About halfway through the movie (around the part where the Red Skull is revealing his plan to destroy the world) I remembered that the fruit was simmering on the fire.  Whoops.

I quickly took it off the fire, drained out some of the extra liquid and mashed everything up. I guess if I was less lazy I could have thrown it all in the food processor and gotten a much smoother sauce, but again, lazy.

I added some cinnamon and some agave syrup (keep the glucose levels down).  Then I let the sauce cool until after the movie was over.

Captain America saved the day but was frozen in a glacier and my fruit sauce was awesome.

So for all you people who are planning on having plain old boring apple sauce with their latkes this year during Chanukah – we at the Casa de la Smoj will be indulging in a different condiment this year.  (If I have time to make more, I already ate the first batch.  What?  It was really small!)

Little Rocker the Chanuka Candle
Little Rocker the Chanuka Candle (from her preschool party).

Recipe (from what was left in my refrigerator):

fruit from the apple/pear family (apples (not red delicious), pears of different sorts, asian pears, quinces, etc.)
water for boiling
agave syrup or honey or brown sugar
nutmeg (optional)
allspice (optional)
cardamom (optional)

Peel and cut all the fruit into big chunks. Put them into a saucepan with enough water to come halfway up the pile of fruit.  Boil for a while until everything is soft.  Drain some of the water (leave a bit so that you have an easier time mixing). Mash the fruit and add the agave syrup/brown sugar/honey.  Start with a little bit and taste the mixture to make sure that it is not too sweet.  Then add the nutmeg, and/or allspice and/or cardamom.  It’s probably a good idea to add some salt too, so that the flavor really pops.

Let it cool and then eat with your favorite latkes!

P.S. I made version 2.0 with quinces, pears, Jonathan apples and Yellow Delicious apples this week.  Added some cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.  After cooking the fruit I blended it all with an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce – yum!


Tuesdays with Dorie: Fold-Over Pear Torte

Hmm. Pears and apricots in a custard tart.  Definitely an interesting combination and something to try.  I haven’t real used pears yet this season as they are just coming into season.  (It’s still not cold here.)  But I love pear tarts and other pear desserts, and the apricots add a nice splash of color.

This week’s recipe was hosted by Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen.  She chose the Fold-Over Pear Torte.  I noticed that a number of bloggers were ambivalent about the use of pears and planned on substituting apples.  I love pears, I love when they are ripe and soft and the juice drips everywhere when you bite into them, so yeah, no substitutions, exchanges or refunds (Bonus: what children’s movie is that from?).


Pears ready for dicing.


Well, actually, I did decide to not include the walnuts as I am surrounded by nut-haters, tough they would have added some more texture to the torte.


Rolling out the pie dough.


I realized on Thursday night that I did not have dried apricots in the house, so I decided to take the Little Rocker to the farmer’s market on Friday and get some from the spice store there.  They always have the best stuff.


Fruit Filling


Of course there was another factor added to this mix, the weather forecast predicted the first rain of the season for Friday and of course it would start as soon as I picked up the Little Rocker from daycare (it only rains between October and March in Israel).

There we were, mom, kid and stroller, racing through the drip dropping of the beginning of the rain.  Racing before the thunder that threatened from the next town over, counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder.  And all the while the Little Rocker is entranced by water dripping on her pants. (Not a bad description – I too can get a masters in creative writing – so there Rocker Dude!)


Filling in the crust.


We made it to the spice store before the rain really started.  There we got a whole bunch of delicious things, not just the apricots.  We then braved the pending rain to run out to the farmer’s market to get the best pickles ever.  Just as we paid for the pickles, the sky opened up in earnest.  We raced to the bank and took shelter inside, to the harmony of the Little Rocker saying, “Weening, weening!”

The rain eventually stopped and we were able to make it home with no further mishaps, though it was fun to watch the rain fall (from inside of course).

The base of this torte is a regular pie crust that is rolled out into a springform pan.  The fruit (and nuts) are poured into the middle and the custard poured over that.


Custard on the filling and crust folded over it.


I wasn’t 100% sure what Dorie meant by her instructions, when she said to fold the dough over the custard but to leave space (I wasn’t sure how the crust was supposed to defy gravity), so I just lightly laid the crust on the custard and when it baked, it rose when the custard rose as well.


The finished product.


I was not super impressed with this dessert, but everyone else liked it, so they must know what they are talking about.  I thought that it needed more texture – that’s probably why the recipe called for walnuts.  Something to think about next time.


Fold-Over Pear Torte


To see the recipe, check out cakelaw’s blog here and see what other TWD bakers did here.