Pear Quick Bread with Buckwheat Honey, Apricots & Pecans

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I had three pears that were so ripe that eating them would have been a mess, so I peeled and mashed them with a fork and decided to try making a pear-based quick bread. I decided the molasses that I usually use for quick bread would overpower the pears and decided to use buckwheat honey instead. I also thought dried cranberries would not work well and opted for dried apricots, a milder flavor.  This takes no special equipment other than a bread pan.

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed pears
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots (chopped small)
  • 1.3 cup chopped pecan

Preheat to 300°

First cream 1/2 cup of butter with 1 cup of sugar. I use a whisk, but if you have a mixer, use it. I used room temperature butter, but you can take cold butter, cut it into pieces and then cream it with the whisk. Once the sugar and butter is light and creamy, fluffy even if you have the energy, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking them into the batter.

In a bowl, mix the mashed pears and buckwheat honey together. If you don’t have buckwheat honey, use regular honey, but use a little less. Buckwheat honey is not as sweet tasting.

In another bowl, mix the flour and spices.

Add the pear mixture and the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time, so you blend thoroughly, first the pears, then the flour, pears, flour, pears, and flour.

Finally gently fold in the pecans and the dried apricots.

Pour the batter in the greased bread pan and bake for about 90 minutes. Test with a knife after an hour or so and see if it comes out dry. My bread pan is one of those very thick insulated ones, so I need 90 minutes, but a thin bread pan will cook faster.

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Fruit Fusion Gumbo

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I asked friends to suggest names for this one. It’s a delicious fruit salad made with plums and cucumber which are botanically a fruit.

So I cut up a cucumber and 3 plums. There were two different kinds of plums, hence the different colors. I chopped up about 2 TBSP of yellow onion. Dumped them all in a plastic container and then made a dressing.

Dressing: Mix together. Buckwheat honey takes a long time to mix in but keep at it, it will dissolve. You can add more vinegar if you like. There is no olive oil or anything so it’s not a vinaigrette. It just seems to me that the juices in the fruit really do not need oil. Pour the dressing on the fruit. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up. Refrigerate  for an hour or so and it will be delicious.

  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of chile powder
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 2 tsp of buckwheat honey and
  • rice vinegar, about 1/4 cup

 

This made 6 servings. There are things that get better and better the longer they sit, so making a single serving would be silly.

Apples and Blackberries with Buckwheat Yogurt Sauce

Fruit Salad with Buckwheat Honey Yogurt

Gertrude Stein said “A rose is a rose is a rose.” Well, that is not true. There is a world of difference between a floribunda and an Empress Josephine and an American Beauty. The same is true of honey, not all honeys are alike. Buckwheat honey is distinctive, a monofloral honey, it is nothing like regular honey. It is closer to molasses, but more mellow and with a fuller, more rounded flavor. While I don’t have any honey in my cupboard, I do keep buckwheat honey for its delicious flavoring.

Today I added 2 tsps of buckwheat honey to 1/2 cup of plain nonfat yogurt. It takes a lot of patient stirring to get it fully blended, but it was worth it. What you get is almost like caramel sauce, but lighter and creamier, slightly less sweet and really much tastier and healthier as well. That’s just a bonus, the flavor is the reason you want to make it.

I cut up a Granny Smith Apple and quarter a cup of some humongous blackberries that I quartered and stirred them into the sauce, and served up in a bowl. It was delicious and made two servings, both of which I ate. So that made it a single serving anyway.

Fruit & Chevre Salad with Sumac Dressing

Fruit with Chevre Salad with Sumac dressing

 

This is made with a super simple fruit dressing that adds just a bit of depth to the sweetness of the fruit. I stirred 1/2 teaspoon of buckwheat honey into the juice of 1 fresh squeezed lemon. I heated it in the microwave just a bit to help it dissolve. Buckwheat honey is earthier and significantly less sweet that most honey. It has a malty flavor and is very thick and dark. After dissolving all the honey in the lemon juice, I added 1/3 tsp of sumac, a tart Middle Eastern spice that adds some pungency to the dressing.

I then cut up some figs, half a nectarine and about 1 oz of chevre, mixed them together with the dressing and served. Out of this world! The fruit alone is delicious, with the cheese, it fabulous and with the cheese, fruit and dressing, it’s amazing.

Pork Chop & Rice with Sweet & Sour Cherry Sauce

Pork Chop and Sweet & sour Cherry Sauce

 

My best friend brought over about a quart of fresh sour cherries she picked yesterday. I decided I might try them as an option for sweet and sour pork chops since I had some fresh pineapple that could be used to sweeten their sourness.

First I cooked some rice. I always make 2 cups of rice when I cook it because it stores well and I can use it in many dishes. To make rice, I put two cups of long grain white rice in my wire strainer and run it under cold water, rinsing away the starch. I then put it in a pot that has a tight-fitting lid with 3 cups of cold water and 1 tsp of salt. I turn up the heat to medium high and let it come to a rolling boil. Then I turn the heat off and leave it until I am ready to serve. I do not lift the lid. I do not stir. I do nothing at all. It will be perfectly done if I leave it alone, steaming in the pot. Now I like slightly dryer rice than many Americans, so you can try up to 4 cups of cold water. 4 cups gives you the usual soft (and to me, mushy) American style of cooked rice.

To make the sauce, I cut about 1 inch off a ginger root, peeled and minced. I then minced 3 garlic cloves. I heated t tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and added about 10 cardamom seeds that I removed from 2 pods. I then added the ginger and garlic and let them sauté while i chopped up half a small purple onion and added that. I let that sauté away while I pitted cherries, cutting them in half and removing pits. When I had one cup of pitted cherries, I added that to the sauté pan with the onions, garlic and ginger. I then added a dash or Sriracha and 1 serrano pepper, minced. I let the cherries cook until tender. Then I added 1/4 cup of chopped fresh pineapple and the juice from chopping it up. Taste-testing, it was still a bit too sour, so i added about 1 TBSP of buckwheat honey. Now it was perfect. I had enough for two chops, but I only cooked one, putting the rest in a container for another day.

I heated a pan with a bit of oil and fried the pork chop. After it was done on one side, I turned it over and poured half the cherry sauce on top of the chop and let it continue to fry. When it was done, I put it on a plate with some rice and made sure to spoon rest of the sauce from the pork chop pan onto the rice.

Pork loves fruit and sour cherries were no exception. The sauce was hot, tart, sour and sweet. That buckwheat honey gives it s deep earthiness that regular honey does not. Balancing sour does not always require a lot of sweet. Spicy can balance sour, too, and in this case, spice was a great balance. The addition of cardamom added a rich, headiness that made the whole thing so fulfilling to all the senses.