Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Fest: Pear, Pecan, and Parmesan Scones

Every fall, I'm so surprised that the Bosc pear tree in my community commons bears fruit. It's such a scroungy-looking creature that no one really tends to. But every fall fruit appears, usually out of my reach. This year, however, some lower branches had some very small brown pears hanging from them and on one of my morning dog walks a couple of weeks ago I stopped the girls and reached up to grab some.


After about a week on the counter, I tried one. And surprise, it wasn't just edible; it was deliciously sweet and juicy. Since then I've taken what I could and am so disappointed that the rest--out of my reach--will probably just age and drop. Clearly, no one else either has noticed them or wants them.

Along with these home-grown pears, I've come across some truly gorgeous varieties at the markets. Ever-popular Bartletts mixed with brilliant red Star Crimsons. Huge crisp Asian Apple pears. They all look so pretty with persimmons and pomegranates. A true fall fruit bowl!

Pears have such subtle flavors and texture that they can easily be overwhelmed by the other ingredients they're paired with. Ginger is always a good match. But so is  equally strong rosemary. It's just a matter of being judicious with the amounts. A long time ago, I came up with a dessert "spanikopita," with a poached pear, ginger, and ricotta filling rolled into phyllo triangles that were baked, then topped with honey. They were pretty good, actually, but I have to admit they were a little bland. It's something I need to revisit.

In the meantime, for this week's Fall Fest, I decided to develop a scone recipe, combining sweet and savory flavors with a little crunch. I went with just a little bit of fresh, chopped rosemary, along with grated Parmesan cheese and toasted chopped pecans. I added a little sugar to the mix, and sauteed the pears and rosemary in butter to soften the fruit and bring out the sugars.

They came out quite well. I love the poofy texture of the dough and the subtleties of the flavor combination. Next time, I might add some chile powder, too, to provide a little more ooomph. But, give these a try when you want a delicately flavored pastry to accompany a pot of tea.

Pear, Pecan, and Parmesan Scones
Makes 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1 medium pear, peeled, cored, and diced
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
1/2 cup toasted, roughly chopped pecans
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water for glaze

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add the rosemary and pear pieces. Saute until just soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut or rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the cooled pear and rosemary, 1/3 cup of the nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate.

Add the sour cream and milk to the flour mixture and lightly blend just until the dough comes together.

Using floured hands, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into large log and divide into eight pieces. Pat each into a circle about 1-inch thick. Place them onto the baking sheet. Brush the scones with the egg glaze, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and the rest of the pecan pieces. Bake until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Here's what my fellow Fall Fest'ers are turning out this week:

Caroline at the Wright Recipes: Three Favorite Pear Recipes
Paige at The Sister Project: A Gingery Pear Crisp
Nicole at Pinch My Salt: Sour Cream Pear Cake
Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple: Pear Galette
The Gilded Fork: Harvest Risotto with Caramelized Pears
Margaret at Away to Garden: Of Pears and Cookbooks, A Delicious Giveaway
Food Network UK: Pear Necessities
Roberto at Food2: 5 Ways to Warm Up to Pears
Michelle at Cooking Channel: What to Pair With Pears
Kirsten at Food Network: Baking Up Pear Desserts
Liz at Healthy Eats: Vanilla Poached Pears, With Variations
Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Musings on Pears and Cheese

Now It's Your Turn to Join Fall Fest 2010!
This collaborative effort won't be much fun without you! The more info we all give, the more we'll all enjoy fall's harvest. Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? You can contribute in various ways, big or small.
  • Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. 
  • Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog any upcoming Wednesday, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and then we're all cooking with some great ideas. Or go big: Publish entire posts of your own if you wish, and grab the big Fall Fest 2010 pumpkin badge above (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites). We'll also be tweeting using #fallfood as our hashtag. Here's the schedule:
Sept. 1: Sweet and Spicy Peppers
Sept. 8: Garlic
Sept. 15: White (or colorful “white”…but not sweet) Potatoes
Sept. 22: Spinach
Sept. 29: Apples
Oct. 6: Fall Salads
Oct. 13: Pumpkin and Winter Squash
Oct. 20: Pears
Oct. 27: “Mad Stash” (as in what you’re freezing/canning/drying, etc.)
Nov. 3: Root veggies
Nov. 10: Brassicas: incl. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage or other
Nov. 17: Sweet Potatoes
Nov. 24: Bounty to Be Grateful For
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