Along the Grapevine


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Roasted Pear and Nut Stuffing

 

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In my last post I outlined the different ways I had of preserving a bucketful of feral pears I was lucky enough to find. Now, with a good supply of dried fruit and peel and some scrap vinegar, I was tempted to enjoy some fresh pears in an original recipe, one that suited the season and the cool weather. This fruit and nut stuffing is also ideal for those festive dinners where some choose not to eat meat, but is rich enough to appeal to vegetarians and omnivores alike.

To begin with I peeled, cored and chopped the pears and then roasted them in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until they are a caramel brown and have some crisp edges. Then I chopped them some more.

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For the bread I used a home-made sour dough corn bread, but any firm day old bread will work. For the nuts I used pecans, and the dried mushrooms I used porcini, but these can be varied according to what you have on hand or what you prefer.

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Roasted Pear and Nut Stuffing

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

8 cups of cubed bread

1 cup toasted nuts

15 oz dried mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water

1/2 cup oil

one large onion

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 Tbsp fresh sage

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped, roasted pears

Method

Trim the crusts off the bread, cut in cubes and set aside. (The crusts can be ground into bread crumbs and saved for another recipe.)

Toast the nuts in a frying pan briefly until they begin to change colour. This will only take a couple of minutes, so be careful not to scorch them.  Chop and set aside.

Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms and set aside to cool.

Chop the onion and fry in the oil in a heavy skillet. Once translucent, add the garlic, parsley, sage and salt and pepper. Continue frying for another fi

Drain the mushrooms, saving the liquid, chop them and add to the mixture. Remove from the heat.

Add the nuts, pears and the onion mixture to the bred cubes and combine well. Add the mushroom water and stir again.

Pour into a lightly greased casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, until it is cooked through.


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Crab Apple Preserve

Crab apples are one of the easiest fruits to preserve with more pectin than most – it is even recommended as an addition to some jams and jellies to help them set. I thought I would try a preserve which, in South America, is often made with quince, guava or sweet potato, known as ‘dulce de’ whatever. So I will call this dulce de manzana silvestre.

If not cooked quite long enough, you will get a rich, dark jam. Cook it a little longer, and it will set into a firm paste, which can be sliced or cut into squares – the former is served with fresh cheese and the latter eaten as a candy. But I find it has other uses too. I blended it in water and used it instead of orange juice in a pumpkin cake recipe, which added a subtle aroma. It could also be used like tamarind in savoury dishes. It would  be excellent as a condiment, particularly for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or with pork or game. Again, I think I didn’t make enough of it to experiment as much as I’d like, but still hoping to find some more apples.

I used the small ones from my tree in the garden, but any crab apples would work well.

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Dulce de manzana silvestre

1 lb. crab apples

2 cups water

1 cup sugar

Cook the crab apples in water until they are very soft. This takes about an hour, but don’t rush them. The mushier, the better.

Strain the fruit, pressing out as much fruit as you can, much as you would making apple sauce. Return the juice to a pan, add the sugar and cook on a low heat until it looks dark and is about 1/3 the volume you started with.

I put mine in a jar because I didn’t expect it to set as much as it did. Had I known, I would have used a square, non-metallic cake pan and cut it into squares.

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