Everyone knows one of these people. Ask them to bring something for a potluck and they'll arrive with a 7-tiered Venetian fantasy. It looks amazing. Like something on a Pinterest wedding board. And it tastes like decayed plaster.
Food doesn't have to be pretty to taste good. Presentation helps, but it's that judging a book by its cover thing all over again. The outside doesn't accurately reflect the inside. I was thinking about this little lesson in morals while I was looking at the bushel of pears I'd acquired.
My friend, Lillian, has an abundant pear tree. Every year, she gathers the fruit and gives it away in exchange for a donation to a charity. So every year, for as long as I've known Lillian, I end up with a lot of pears.
Pears are one of those fruits that I am loath to use. Their odd shape makes them difficult to peel. Not like an apple, round and nearly symmetrical. Pears take a little knife skill. They are needy. So they sat in the refrigerator, picked off one by one for snacking.
And after a week there were still a lot. Too many. Time to bake. So when a friend asked me to throw in a dessert for an impromptu dinner, I thought "Pear tart!" like it was an epiphany.
Anyone who has cooked a pear tart - or seen one in a cookbook - knows that the fruit is supposed to be sliced into identical wedges and lay in a pinwheel on the crust. It is a daunting task with more effort spent on creating the picture than the food. I don't do that. (And that should surprise no one.)
Ugly Pear Tart
6 smallish pears, peeled, cored and chopped into pieces (enough for about 3 cups)
1 t cornstarch
(Some people like a spice, like cinnamon or nutmeg)
3/4-cup flour, plus extra
4 Tbs cold butter
After chopping up the pears, toss them in a bowl with a little lemon juice so they don't get brown and some cornstarch so they don't get watery. Then make the crust just like any other piecrust. I use a food processor and then put the dough in the fridge for a half hour before pressing into a tart pan. Or a pie plate if I can't find the tart pan. Bake the crust, which looks like a large sugar cookie, at 425 for 15 minutes or until golden.
Drain the extra liquid from the pears. When the crust is done, reduce the oven to 350, dump the pears on top of the crust and bake for 40 minutes.
If I'm feeling fancy I'll drizzle some melted chocolate across the top. That happens seldom.