As I sit here listening to the rain beat upon the downspouts, creating a timpani of knocks and quivers against the house, I realize how the poetry of each day includes so many beautiful moments that must be noted. The holidays, whatever theme you may celebrate, are still about unconditional love and delivering joy, and it leaves me flush with gratitude. I am full of humility for all the wonders of life. And I wanted you to know how my heart is bursting.
The other side of this emotion is an observance in kind, of the activities that perpetuates the opportunity for gladness. Christmas parties are everywhere and they seem to breed a kind of "don't mind me, I just feel like crying," kind of conversations. Hearts are growing 3 sizes, as the saying goes, and there is ne'er a scowl to be found.
What I love most is the evidence of these soirees, as you cannot move about the city without bumping into someone buying a hostess gift or scurrying to pick up that last minute appetizer before dashing off to hug friends and neighbors. It's funny. We talk about all the physical gifts that are being purchased this time of year and I wonder if anyone has counted the number of hams, turkeys, cranberries or wine bottles consumed, passed around, or donned with a bow and punctuated with a signature of sincerity. Would it not be safe to say that food, in all its forms, it more of a symbol of the holidays than any tech toy, sweater, or gift card? I fully believe we can agree that the dinners we share will create more of the memories we carry with us than any other gift. And that is as it should be.
My recipe tonight was one of those gifts, so to speak. An appetizer created on the fly; assembled quickly but certainly not without intention. My only hope is that, as I carefully cut each piece, it will satisfy the taster and bring us to closer to clinking our glasses in gladness and happiness. It is full of the flavors of the season with herbs, fruit and cheese in every bite. It's almost an entire Christmas platter in one, beautiful appetizer. The perfect way to say, "Merry Christmas," "I love you," and " don't forget to be thankful," all on one plate.
Enough of your favorite pie crust dough for a 15 inch round; usually enough for two crusts. Either your homemade or store bought will work.
3 barlett pears, peels and diced, about 3.5 C
3/4 C mission figs, diced
juice of one lemon
zest from one lemon
1/2 t cinnamon
5 heaping T of white sugar
dash of salt
1/4 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 C Cambozola cheese, in chunks
drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of raw sugar
flour for working with dough
Roll out dough, let rest for 15 minutes. Place on cookie sheet on top of parchment paper. Mix all fruit, juice, zest, herbs, sugar and cinnamon and salt. Pour into center of dough. Fold over edges. Cook in 375 degree oven for 55 minutes or until edged are golden brown and you see the fruit bubbling. Let cool for an hour, drizzle with honey and sugar, slice and enjoy!
Camine Pappas, Culineer
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