When a reader of this blog e-mailed me with a question about my recipe for Jewish Chicken Soup – the best medicine I know for whatever ails body or soul – we had an exchange about the source of that recipe: my esteemed colleague and longtime restaurant critic for the Globe & Mail, Joanne Kates.
I have long been grateful to her for that soup, especially her tip about adding the mandatory parsnip. It gives delicate sweetness that elevates that winter mainstay from good to simply sublime.
That young male reader of my blog, after discussing the merits of adding chicken feet to the actual chicken (feet give thickness and a luscious, glutinous texture along with extra flavour), told me he was about to make a delicious dessert from The Joanne Kates Cookbook (my source for the soup and a vintage tome published in 1984) called Ginger Pear Pie.
Well, it’s fall, pear season and time to try that recipe. Yesterday I did and it’s a winner. My boyfriend Ross, as he was polishing off a second slice, said it reminds him of a Christmas cookie. That would be the ginger. For me, it has shades of lemon meringue. That would be the lemon. Both of these, combined with juicy sweet-and-sour pears (I used Bartlett), make for a divine dessert. I added an extra pear and halved instead of slicing them.
Ginger Pear Pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter. cubed
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup iced water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger root
1/4 tsp salt
3 or 4 ripe pears, peeled, sliced or halved
3 tbsp soft butter
2 large eggs, separated
1 tsp grated lemon peel
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
Add flour, butter and salt to large bowl. With wire pastry cutter, cut butter into flour until it’s the size of peas. Add water; mix until dough holds together. Gather into ball. Refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Roll out dough; use it to line 9-inch/23-cm pie plate.
In small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1 tbsp of the flour, ginger root and salt. Sprinkle evenly over pie shell. Arrange pears on top.
In medium bowl, cream butter with remaining sugar and flour until light and smooth. Add egg yolks, lemon peel and juice, and milk. Mix to combine.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into butter mixture. Pour over pears.
Place in oven; bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F; bake 20 to 30 minutes more or until crust and top of pie are golden brown.
Makes about 8 servings.