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January, 2009

January is here and there are lots of different items in the produce department to get you excited about healthy winter eating.

D'Anjou Pears

This time of the season you will find Melissa’s organic sweet potatoes, navel oranges, Satsuma mandarins, the selection goes on and on. Something that you don’t want to overlook is the selection of Melissa’s organic winter pears. Yes, you’ve seen pears in your produce department for the past several months, but there is something special about pears this time of year.

Red and green D’Anjou’s have long been the standard for all winter pears due to their versatility and wonderful flavor. You may know that they are good to eat fresh but do you know that the green D'Anjou’s are fantastic poached as a sweet, yet healthy dessert?

Try this simple recipe adapted from Chef Todd Gray of Equinox restaurant in Washington, DC.

Poached D'Anjou Pears

You’ll need:
3 green or red D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1 cup sugar
1 cup Chablis wine
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

To Prepare
Combine pears, sugar, wine, water, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and slowly poach until pears are tender, approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool in liquid. Drain pears. Serve in a dish with vanilla ice cream. Simple, yet delicious. Or if dessert isn’t your thing, try them as a perfect partner to a Saturday afternoon cheese platter. If you want to know what cheeses to use in your platter, ask your favorite cheese clerk which varieties complement the sweet flavor and firm texture of the pear you have chosen to serve. Or you could start with some of my favorites like an herbed chevré, gorgonzola, or a sheep’s milk gouda. Once you try some with these pears, branch out and try a few others for the next occasion. You’ll soon settle on some favorites of your own.

Don’t want to eat a lot of cheese after the holidays? Then try a salad made from some green and red D’Anjou’s, mixed salad greens, a handful of roasted pecans, a sprinkling of blue cheese and some balsamic vinaigrette and you’ll have a salad that will make any day a little more special.

Are you getting hungry? I am!

Or how about a Melissa’s bosc pear? This bronze-colored beauty with the long slender neck is another winter favorite that you shouldn’t walk by. Its dense yet buttery flesh makes it perfect for a pear pie or a special sandwich.

That’s right, a sandwich. If you want to really take away the wintertime blues, try changing up your grilled cheese routine with a grilled pear and Brie sandwich on sweet French bread. Wow! I can taste it now – sweet, rich and creamy. Mmm-mmmm. This recipe will get you started:

Bosc Pear and Brie Panini
Adapted from a recipe by Kathy Gunst
www.iledefrancecheese.com


Ingredients:
4 slices of your favorite bread
4 ounces ripe Brie, rind removed and cut into 12 thin slices
4 ounces cooked ham, sliced fairly thin, about
4 slices 1 small Bosc pear, almost ripe, peeled, cored and cut into very thin slices
2 teaspoons olive oil, if needed

Directions:
Place all 4 slices of bread out on a work surface. Add 3 slices of Brie to each piece. Top 2 slices of bread with the ham, doubling the ham over if necessary so it doesn’t stick out beyond the bread. Place the pear slices on the other 2 slices of bread. Place the slices of bread with the cheese and ham on top of the slices of bread with the pear and cheese.

In a Panini Grill:
Preheat a Panini grill to the highest setting. Place the sandwiches on the hot grill, close the grill, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the bread is grilled and the cheese is totally melted and bubbling. Remove from the grill and cut in half or quarters and serve hot.

In a Skillet:
Alternately, heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat for about a minute. Add the sandwich and use a can of beans or a full teakettle to weigh the sandwich down (The idea is to press the sandwich). Cook 2 minutes and gently flip the sandwich over, press it down again, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serves 2. If you want to add a little extra flair, you could top it with some fresh arugula leaves, grilled fennel or switch out the ham with a slice of proscuitto, or even some vegetarian deli slices. Believe me your family or friends will never look at pears or a grilled cheese sandwich the same way again.