Another beautiful breakfast dish, on a very similar theme to yesterday’s post: fruit cooked in butter and brown sugar, finished with cream, and served over sweetened, milky grain (or close enough to it – couscous is actually a pasta, but is often treated like a grain).
To be honest, I’ve never really liked pears. Their flavor can be fantastic – pear gelato is one of the best flavors – but I could never quite make peace with the grainy texture of their flesh. Underripe pears especially turn me off.
But we keep getting pears from our CSA, Los Poblanos Organics. Really lovely pears. And when they are just ripe enough, juicy and soft, I have to confess – they are wonderful. This is a large part of why I love being part of a CSA, actually: Each week I get what they give me, and have to figure out something to do with it. Turns out I like both cauliflower and turnips! Who’d have guessed?
Today I had two gorgeous green Anjou pears left over from the Christmas all-fruit box. Paging through my trusty copy of Jamison & Jamison’s A Real American Breakfast – a must-have for anyone who wants to expand their breakfast repertoire – I found a recipe for Butterscotch-Baked Pears. I’d only ever eaten pears out of hand, and it was time to try cooking them.
I’m so glad I did. The baked pears were like velvet – the fork just glided through, and they melted in the mouth with just a hint of nubbly graininess. The creamy, rich butterscotch sauce was almost gilding the lily. Not that I’m complaining.
Pears by themselves didn’t seem like a full breakfast to me, so I also tried a recipe for Sweet Couscous with Figs from the same book, substituting dried cherries for the figs. I highly recommend this as an alternative breakfast cereal – even quicker and easier to make than oatmeal, light and sweet. The slight tanginess of the cherries was a good foil to the sweet richness of the rest of the meal.
I have written the recipes the way I cooked them, to serve 2, but they will double with ease.
Butterscotch Baked Pears
2 medium pears, ripe but not too soft
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch salt (more if using unsalted butter)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum (I used spiced rum), brandy, or bourbon
Heat the oven to 375.
Peel the pears and cut in half vertically. With a grapefruit spoon or similar implement, scoop out the core and seeds from the center of each half.
Melt the butter in a small ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and salt. Add the pears, cut sides down, and spoon some of the butter and sugar mixture over them.
Place the skillet in the hot oven. Bake the pears until nice and soft, 15 to 20 minutes, basting once. Remove pears from the skillet and place in serving bowls, cut side up. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and mix in the cream, vanilla, and rum. (You can skip the rum, but it adds a nice bite among the sweetness.)
Bring to a boil and cook until thick and smooth – just a minute or two – stirring constantly. Pour over the pears and serve.
Sweet Breakfast Couscous with Dried Cherries
Use any dried fruit you like in this; I can definitely see apricots, raisins, or the fruit the Jamisons used, figs.
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 tablespoon brown or turbinado sugar
pinch salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/2 cup plain couscous (toasted, if desired)
Warm the milk in a lidded saucepan with the butter, dried cherries, sugar, and salt (if using). Heat until just beginning to boil. Stir in the couscous and let stand about 5 minutes to absorb the liquid. Fluff with a fork and serve, with extra sugar and milk or cream if desired.