A cold front full of moisture to share blew in, settling on top of the town of Bend late last week and through the Valentine’s Day weekend. Upon anticipation of the winter forecast as one of the many in the area who savors our snowy winters, I planned ahead to explore a couple of recipes from new cookbooks and stocked up for favorite comfort recipes long tried and trusted in between excursions to the mountain for a touring session, shoveling the sidewalk, lovely walks on the snowy trails (see more pics below) and curling up with more than a few good books.
Susan Herrmann Loomis’ new cookbook Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy shares oodles of cozy meals, and so on Friday evening, inspired by her steak and gratin recipe, I paired my plat du jour with her Pear Crumble.
~Listen to my conversation with Susan Herrmann Loomis about her cookbook in episode #300 on the podcast.
Sizing down the portions, I purchased two Barlett pears, sliced them thinly, and layered in abundance inside a traditional French soup bowl. Susan’s topping is scrumptious, and I will be including the addition of almonds to future fruit dessert crumbles, tarts and pies. Adding its unique nutty flavor (as the almonds are toasted), the subtle flavor addition made a delicious difference.
As I was only making one small crumble, the dessert cooked in less time – 30-40 minutes – and came out of the oven warm and eager for a dollop of salted vanilla gelato (Bonta from Bend is my favorite). I obilged willingly. 😉 (the photo of the dollop never actually happened, as I scooped and ate it!)
I have included my adaptation of the recipe (as seen in the photos shared above) below the wintery captures from our past weekend exploring Bend whether on foot or by ski. Be sure to check out Susan’s cookbook Plat du Jour. From salads to desserts, to the theme of the book – Plat du Jour’s! – your tastebuds will be quite happy and the meals really are quite simple to make.
Pear Nutmeg & Almond Mini Crumble
- 2 pears Barlett or your preferred varietal peeled, cored and sliced thinly length-wise
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- 1/4 cup toasted almonds (unsalted) I used sliced almonds I use for my breakfast as they were already toasted (and unsalted)
- 1/2 tsp fleur du sel
- 4-5 Tbsp unsalted butter (high quality) from the refrigerator, so chilled
- 1/4 cup sugar add more sugar to preference
- 1 tsp vanilla (or a half of a vanilla bean's seeds) mix with the sugar to create your own vanilla sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 celsius).
- Prepare the pears. Place in circular layers inside the French soup bowl. They will be compact and fill the entire bowl. Be generous.
- Make the crumble topping in a food processor. Combine the flour, nutmeg, vanilla sugar, salt, almonds and then the butter until a rough coarse topping is created. Don't feel the need to make the topping fine or consistent in sizes. Having some larger pieces of almond is a good idea for extra crunch. 🙂
- Place the crumble on top of the pears. Again, be generous. Pack it down on top of the pears and then add a soft sprinkle to the top (on top of the crumble that is already there).
- Place the soup bowl on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Check. You don't want the crumble to burn. My oven cooked it to a beautiful dark brown in 38 minutes, but I began checking at 30 minutes. Each oven will be unique, so check as necessary until you reach the brown-ness you want.
- Remove from the oven when done and prepare your hot cuppa. Let rest just for about 10 minutes, but not much longer as you want to enjoy it warm. Add a dollop of your favorite gelato or ice cream and enjoy!