"Rustic" Pear Tart

rustic pear tart


I’m not ashamed to admit that when the 10-year old’s coach suggested that we get his wrist checked out, my first thought was not the welfare of my child, but the fact that this checking out would occur on my one free day. Well, one of two free days. Those precious days during the week when all the chickens have flown the coop and the house is silent. Could it really be that bad? I know he’s been cradling the wounded wrist in the palm of his other hand like a fragile bird for two days now, but come on…does this really warrant a trip to the doctor’s office? Which will then result in a trip to the radiologist? Which will take up the whole day?


pears on leaves

I picked him up from school mid-morning and we headed down the windy road through Forest Park. He was giddy. Like he’d just drawn a “Get Out of School FREE” card. After checking in, we tried to quarantine ourselves in the corner of the waiting room wishing we’d brought face masks to guard ourselves against the big, bad swine flu viruses floating around the room. He asked me, “Do I have to go back to school after this?”

“If this is it, yes. If you end up getting x-rays, no. There won’t be enough time.”

As we made our way out of the building with his x-ray slip in hand, I could tell that my 10-year old was resisting the urge to skip.

I find that I have the opportunity to spend time alone with my daughter, as well as the baby, but this guy…well, it always seems I’m with him…and someone else. As we crunched our way down the leaf strewn sidewalks of northwest Portland toward the radiologist, I found myself putting my arm around him. Tussling his hair. All of which he tolerated for approximately 10 seconds before pulling away. But still…

There wasn’t time to get him back to school after the x-rays were successfully taken; however, we still had a bit of time before my other chickens would be headed home. There was, in fact, something I’d been wanting to talk to him about and now that I had him all to myself, I suggested, “Let’s go up to Pittock Mansion and take a quick look around. It’s such a beautiful day. The mountains are probably out and you can name all of the bridges for me.” (Naming the Portland Bridges is quite the badge of honor around our household…it’s the little things in life.)

winterberries
As we walked around the grounds, taking in the splendor of the late fall beauty and looking off at Mt. Hood in the distance, I draped my arm around his shoulders and said, “So, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something. Something really serious. Something I can only talk to you about now that you’re 10.”

Mt. Hood
I had been trying to set the mood for this by taking some pensive pictures of him.

pittock mansion

But he would have none of that.

none of that

So, I just came right out with it and as I spoke, I could see him tense and the gears of his mind working backwards trying to recall any little clue as to what this could be about. “I heard you and your sister talking the other day about….pause…Santa Claus. About how you know it’s just Mom and Dad.”

He immediately fired back with, “What?? Mom?? Ahhh. I don’t want you to tell me that.”

“But,” I stammered. “I heard you two talking. You know. I heard you say you figured it out because Dad bought something when you were at Target with him and then it showed up under the tree ‘From Santa’.”
“Yeah, I know, but I don’t want you to tell me.”

“Well, sweetie, now that you know, I need to talk to you about it. You have a very important job to do now that you know the truth.”

“What?”

“You need to keep the secret. You cannot ruin it for your little brother. When he’s your age he will figure it out on his own but for now, you have to keep the secret going.”

There’s no lack of the older brother taunting the younger brother with his superior intellectual knowledge and I didn’t want the secret of Santa Claus to be the fall-out victim in this show of superiority. We continued to chat about it. About comments his friends had made regarding the jolly old man. About the importance of honoring the younger sibling’s right to be…young. About other clues that led to the discovery.

“Like last year, there was a 50% off tag on my General Grievous lego set.”

We had finished our rounds up at the mansion. It was time to be heading home. He seemed satisfied with our chat. Satisfied to know that he had an important job to do as keeper of the secret.

pastry dough
On the way home, I realized I had failed to take him on the requisite “after the doctor’s office” trip to the ice cream store so I did a mental inventory of ingredients I had at home that would fill this oversight.

As I laid his “fresh from the oven” pear tart in front of him, he slowly looked up at me. One of those furrowed brow, pensive looks and says, “So, Mom?”

pears on pastry
Pauses a brief second, and then comes out with it, “So, Mom, who’s the Easter Bunny?”


“Rustic” Pear Tart

Here we are in the depths of pear season – “Comice Pear. How I love thee!” – and while I prefer to just keep my pears in a paper bag on the counter, slice them up when they are barely soft to the touch and then, pop those slices in my mouth…if I want to mix it up a bit, I turn to this recipe. Fast. Easy. Looks like you went to a lot of work when really all you did was roll out some pre-made dough and slap some pear slices on it. Yum.

1 sheet, frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 or 3 firm-ripe pears, such as Bosc or Comice
About 2 tbls turbinado sugar, sugar in the raw, or regular, granulated sugar
A few pinches of cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. I suppose you could put down parchment paper here if you are butter-averse. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out pastry to 16 by 18 in. Cut pastry in thirds one-way and in half the other. Basically, divide your dough up into 6 equal parts. With a wide spatula (or your fingers), transfer the 6 rectangles to the baking sheets.

Core pears and cut into thin wedges. Arrange, slightly overlapping, on pastry rectangles, leaving approximately a 1-inch border bare (angle slices if necessary). Fold border over edge of pears, stretching slightly and pressing down to hold. (Remember this is a “rustic” tart. No need for perfection.) Brush new edges with egg, then sprinkle turbinado sugar over tarts, especially pastry edges. Then, sprinkle a pinch or two of cinnamon over the pears.

Bake until pastries are richly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve tarts warm from the oven. (Although, straight from the fridge the next morning isn’t bad either.) These tarts don’t need much of an accompaniment but if you must, “a scoop of vanilla ice cream never hurt anything”, as my father always says. Well, “vanilla ice cream and mayonnaise” that is.

Yield: 6 tarts

PS: In case you were wondering, it turned out to be a sprain.

All original text and photos copyright: Carrie Minns 2009

Comments

  1. Mrs. Ditter says:

    Oh, Carrie, as usual, a terrific piece of writing…and the ending!!! Did you 'fess up about the Easter Bunny? Must know!

  2. Stunning.
    xoxo

  3. Dear Mrs. Ditter- Thank you and I did not fess up. I just gave him one of those looks that said, "Seriously?"

    Dear friend Mara-Thank you……

  4. Angie Muresan says:

    Oh I love that! So, really, who's the Easter Bunny? So adorable! And that tart looks so good and seems pretty easy to make.

  5. Oh how sweet and funny. I love this pear tart it is very good! Especially served with ice cream! Thanks for the recipie!

  6. I am so excited that you have ventured down this road. I love your stories and the fabulous photos!

    Much like your son, I don't really want anyone to say out loud that Santa isn't the one who fills the stockings at our home. And I am relieved to hear that the Easter Bunny really does exist! : )

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