I was introduced to Asian pears a year or so before my father(the second Yankee Chef) passed on and they have been my favorite “pear” ever since. If you have never had one, you really should try them. A little more pricey than other fresh fruits but so well worth it. They have a taste of pear that has been crossed with an apple. Juice and crisp, they are fantastic eaten as is, chopped up in a salad or use in place of apples.
My father always had an affinity for the old-time way of eating his pies and desserts made with these Asian pears as well as apple pies. He would never dream of enjoying an apple pie without it being warmed up with heavy cream and some sharp Cheddar cheese. The sharper, the better. So with this in mind, along with the true, old-time New England chef in mind, let me give you a wonderfully, contemporary version of Dad’s favorite pie.
I would like to say one other thing as well. When my cookbook comes out, I would love for everyone to read both the preface and the introduction. It will give those of you who didn’t know my father, a sense of who he was and how he was an inspiration. For those of you who did know him, I think you will agree with all I wrote about his kitchen stamina and demeanor. Thank you. Now onward and upward.
Warm Spiced Asian Pear Strudel Cups
Truly a taste that will warm you in every sense. One bite, and you will feel like hopping into your jammies, wrapping up and telling Old Man Winter to “Bring it on!”.
1(1.9 ounce) package of mini phyllo shells
2 Asian pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider or juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup maple sugar*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup creme fraiche
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
In a saucepot on medium-high heat, combine all ingredients(except phyllo shells) and stir well. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes or until Asian pears are tender and the juices are syrupy. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Divide the Asian pear compote evenly among the 15 shells. Tops with 1 tablespoon creme fraiche, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. That’s it!
*Maple sugar is easily found in all health food stores. If needed, substitute brown sugar