Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Trivandrum Box

A very good friend of ours, and one of my main Indian food "guinea pigs",just returned from a month visiting friends in Kerala. Trivandrum to be exact. Anyone who leaves their house during the holiday season (even for a quick run to the market) knows that one never knows what's going to turn up on the doorstep. The problem with leaving for an extended period of time is that many strange and sometimes spoilable things can be left there. In his case it was pears. A huge box of Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears.
  Ever since I was a kid and got a look at their catalogues, I've wanted to get a box from Harry and David. I've gotten many gifts over the years but somehow no fruit in a box. Now why didn't I just buy some Harry and David for myself? Because it's supposed to be a gift! That's the whole idea of exotic and perfect fruit in a box. It's like that fancy lacy black underwear they feature in the stores. It's something you never thing to buy for yourself. It's supposed to be a present! And if I have to ask again....
      In the "real world" if I want pears, I go to the market and I buy pears. But pears in a box,  gift wrapped in fancy tissue paper and foil!!!!!??? That's another story.
 Our friend showed up at the door one night upon his return with his giant box of pears, and since they'd been at his house the entire time he'd been in India, they were ready for eating and that's putting it mildly.
 He turned them over to me. Mwwwhahahahahahaha!!!! Harry and David at last.
   Since the pears were in no condition to sit around while I tried to figure out what to do with them, I decided to act fast. Pear chutney? I already had jars of that put up during the summer from our friends' trees. Pears with nuts and cheese? Possible but no challenge. Then I decided. Pear crumble. That's the ticket!
  I don't often make crumbles since they don't generally fit into the sort of meals I serve, but I do love them. And since this recipe is so easy I had everything on hand.
  Even though there were just a few pears in the box, they were ginormous! I only needed a couple to make the weight requirement. So I made two separate crumbles, served two different ways. The first in a long pan served with ice cream which was fine but didn't have that certain classy finish. They were pears in their bathrobes and slippers. Comfy, cozy but not ready for prime time.


 Serving them in individual ramekins however with piped whipped cream, now these pears were ready for publication!
  Here's what I did and you may decide how you want to go with them. Plain or fancy.
  Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9x 13  glass baking dish or individual ramekins
1.) Peel, core and thinly slice 3 pounds of pears.
 Mix them with
2.) 2 Tbs of lemon juice so they don't darken 
3.) 1/3 cup of sugar
4.) 1 and 1/2 Tbs of flour
5.) 2 Tbs of finely chopped crystallized ginger
   Put this mixture in your ramekins or baking dish.

Then for the topping:
In a bowl mix
1.) 1 cup of flour
2.) 2/3 cup of oats
3.) 2/3 cup light brown sugar
4.) 1 tsp of cinnamon
5.) a pinch of salt
6.) 1 stick of sweet butter cut into small dice.

Crumble the butter in with your finger tips till all of these ingredients are in a fine crumb form.

Place the topping on top of your pear mixture and place the whole thing in the oven.

Above it's in the glass baking pan very family style, below  in ramekins for a company dinner.

Bake it for about 45 to 50 minutes till it's all nice and golden brown.
Let it cool for at least 20 to 30 minutes. While it was cooling of course The Wolf got into anticipation of the whipped cream to come. I call this expression "Please to Gimmeee"

Finally, the tea was brewed, The Wolf bought off with a dog cookie and the Pear Crumbles decorated with piped unsweetened whipped cream.

The pears were sweet and succulent and the bite from the ginger gave a lovely note to the whole thing. So even though this box didn't come from Trivandrum and only showed up while our friend was in Trivandrum, I like to call those Harry and David Pears the Trivandrum Box anyway.


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