Almond Pear Hostess Tart

TEXAS IS TURNING COLD.  They say we might have snow this year, but so far it has just been cold winds and low fogs.  Already we’ve lost a pink mandevilla to the frost.  My mother waters her plants carefully, and I see to the trees.  One is a firm red oak, with small pinched leaves.  Another is a deciduous live oak that has discarded all of its leaves for the winter.  It is young, and looks young, and without its leaves it seems nervous and unsure of itself.  I tell it that in the spring, it will make friends again with the artichoke plant my father planted at its base.

My resolution for 2013 is to write more, and to write with intention.  I’m not completely sure what I mean by this, but I know I mean I want to write more.  My fledgling writing group is working hard to figure out how to keep afloat; we’re all doing very different things, in various parts of the US, and it’s hard to work writing and critiquing and google+ hangouts into three busy, feverish schedules.

But we’re trying.

And I’m reading, delving into fiction and YA lit and essays, and reintroducing myself to poetry and to Billy Collins.

Like this, which I love, and which I whisper to myself when I cannot make my own lines tie together in any convincing manner:

Introduction to Poetry – Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

In the new year, I also resolve to be a better hostess, or at least to think more fully about the kind of home I want to open to my friends and family.  Food is a big part of that, and this tart has already been a hit with neighbors.  It’s easy, it’s lovely, it’s lush, and it’s surprising.  What more could you ask for?

Pear Almond Hostess Tart
  • one unbaked pie crust (may I suggest the crust from this?)
  • 1 8-oz can of almond paste  (I used Odense)
  • 3-4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out your pie crust (or tart crust, as the case may be) and line a tart pan.  Remember to press into the bottom of the pan and, using your thumb and index finger, pinch along the lip of the pan.

Roll out the almond paste.  Line the bottom of the crust with it.  Set aside.

Toss the sliced pears with lemon juice.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour over the pears and gently mix, so that the pears are coated but retain their shape.

Arrange the pears in the tart crust.  I like a rosette shape myself, but there are certainly no rules on how to arrange the pear slices.

Bake for 45-55 minutes at 375F, until the pears are soft and the crust is golden.  Remove and allow to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy hostings!



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