- Pears -- we use Seckel pears, but any pears will do. Smallish ones work best, and firm-ripe ones are perfect. (You know, the whole Goldilocks thing -- not too squishy, not too hard). Seckel pears don't even need to be cored, because as they cook the tiny core separates from the pulp so that when you eat it, you can simply pull the core -- seeds and all -- out as one little string. No prep, no mess. My kind of dessert.
- Cranberry juice -- one quart is usually fine, but if you're doing really large pears or more than six small ones, you might want a little more.
- Spices -- we use a couple star anise, a few allspice, and a cinnamon stick. When kid #2 isn't looking, I add fresh ginger pieces. Feel free to use whatever "warm" spices you have on hand. Chili peppers would be awesome too, if you're into the kind of dessert weirdness that we are. If you didn't bring spices, it's fine -- the cranberry juice is good on its own.
- Maple syrup -- we splurge once a year on a big $14 bottle of real maple syrup from Trader Joe's, and it lasts us all season long. However, any syrup will do. The nice thing about this is that many folks serve waffles or pancakes on camping trips anyway, so they already packed the syrup anyway!
- Yogurt (optional). People who can eat regular dairy might want ice cream, but that's pretty hard to deal with on a camping trip. I like this with nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt, my kids do not. Your choice.
This is crazy easy. Place your pears in a pot. Add cranberry juice and spices. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, while you eat your dinner. Place one pear in a cup or bowl, spoon the warm cranberry juice over the pear, add a drizzle of maple syrup, and serve. If you want to add the yogurt, go for it.
If you are in a family who won't eat a dessert unless it's laden with sugar, feel free to turn the cranberry juice into a syrup after poaching your pears. But seriously, it doesn't need it.
2. ROASTED PEAR DESSERT. This one is amazing, but higher in fat than the poached pear dessert above.
- 1 Pear (this recipe is for one dessert, just to make it easy for you...obviously I hope you're not camping alone. The entire recipe can be doubled/tripled/quadrupled/etc. depending on how many people you need to serve)
- 1T butter or oil, whichever you happened to bring with you
- 2T chopped nuts -- almonds or pecans are terrific, but any tree nuts will work
- 2T pepitas or pumpkin seeds
- 1T brown sugar
- 1T old-fashioned oats (meaning, not from a little envelope with fake banana chips and a Quaker man's picture on the front)
- 1T dried cranberries
- Dash cinnamon, dash nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4c vanilla yogurt OR sweetened mascarpone (we love mascarpone. Well, in all honesty, we lovED it, until we couldn't eat it anymore. Now we just covet it. If you can still eat mascarpone, add a little sugar to it and eat a double serving -- one for you, one for me)
- METHOD #1 (with a real fire) -- Cut pear in half, core, and roast on a skewer until drippy and lightly browned. You'll smell it before you see it -- when it smells sweet and amazing, it's done.
- METHOD #2 (with a camp stove) -- Cut pear in half, core, and roast in a little butter on a frying pan or, even better, a camp grill. See above for smell-info.
- BOTH METHODS: While pear is grilling or roasting, add all other ingredients to a small pan and stir constantly over medium heat until the nuts are lightly browned -- about 4 minutes. Again, use your nose...when you can smell the roasted nuts, it's done.
- Place cut pear halves on plate, spoon on yogurt/mascarpone, and top with the nut mixture. Add cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired.
3. PEARS, PARSNIPS & FENNEL. This is a great way to enjoy roasted vegetables on the trail or at your campsite. This recipe will serve about 3-4 as an ample side dish.
- 2 pears, cored and sliced (about 1/4" thick)
- 1 parsnip, sliced 1/4" thick
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced 1/4" thick
- Olive oil spray or 1T olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sage, optional (well, ok, not really optional. Just take a little dried or fresh sage with you)
- Red pepper flakes (again, optional, but awesome. Don't complain that this recipe is too bland if you opt out of the optional ingredients)
- Place parsnips, fennel, and olive oil in a pan and saute about 5 minutes. Add pears, and continue cooking until pears are browned, about 5 more minutes.
- Remove from camp stove and add salt, pepper and sage. Add red pepper flakes, if desired.
4. PEAR AND PROSCIUTTO APPETIZER. A nice, quick appetizer that will keep everyone from bugging you while you finish cooking dinner. This recipe serves 4-6.
- 2 pears, cored and sliced 1/8" thick
- Prosciutto, about 6 slices, cut in half
- Ricotta, about 1 cup
- Honey, about 2T
- Fresh basil (ok, disclaimer: we always travel with a fresh basil plant, and pull leaves off as we need them. In fact, my kids even named the plant we took with us on a cross-country camping trip a few years ago; Veronica served us well in several states before meeting her demise at the California border. However, if you aren't into this level of weirdness, and since fresh rosemary is easier to find regardless of the season, feel free to substitute...)
- 1 baguette, hopefully pre-sliced and toasted at home. However, if you forgot to do this, slice it at your campsite and quickly throw the slices on a hot griddle with a little olive oil spray and call it done.
Spread the ricotta on each slice of bread. Top with prosciutto, pear slices, and fresh basil. Drizzle with honey and serve.
5. PEAR BACON GRILLED CHEESE. I need an entirely separate post on the whole science of reheating bacon while camping, about the oxidation of fat, how to reheat pre-cooked bacon without it tasting like Gym Shoe, etc. But for now, let's just assume you are going to cook your bacon at your campsite. This recipe makes 4 sandwiches.
- 2 pears, sliced thinly (1/8" or so)
- 8 slices cooked bacon, or more, if you are feeding teenage boys
- 8 thick slices of gruyere or white cheddar cheese
- 6T fig jam, optional. But not optional, really -- even if you think you hate fig jam. It's amazing on this sandwich, honestly.
- 8 slices sturdy bread
- Olive oil spray or butter
- Spray bread with olive oil (or spread with butter).
- Layer pears, bacon, jam and cheese on bread to make sandwiches.
- Cook on low on a camp griddle or, if you're lucky, inside one of these nifty grilled cheese makers over an open fire (link below!).