When I was a child, I ate a few mushy pears and never wanted anything to do with them again, so I’ve never eaten or cooked with them my entire adult life. I’ve always been on team peaches, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, apples, pretty much any fruit except the dreaded pear.
That is until today – turns out I like pears!
Combining Passions of Baking, and Photography
One of my favorite ways of combining my passions for cooking/baking and photography is to wander the aisles of the grocery store looking for something that visually catches my eye. Like the saying “You eat with your eyes first,” I, too, look for my next project based on how I’d like to photograph the raw product in interesting ways.
And then I think about how I’ll cook or bake it for the second part of the photography – first the raw product, and then the cooked or baked dish. It’s fun to try new things and different ways of preparing them, and yesterday I set out to find my subject for this weekend.
Wandering the Grocery Store Aisles
It didn’t really matter to me while looking around the grocery store as to whether it would be a fruit-to-dessert item, or a vegetable-to-savory dish – I just knew I wanted it to start in the produce department.
My attention first went to a bin of heirloom tomatoes that were so (truly) beautifully ugly, I figured they would make great photographs. But I eat so many tomatoes every week (and photograph them frequently) that I decided something different was in order.
Vibrant fruits and vegetables in yellows, greens and reds caught my eye over and over, almost like they were saying, “Pick me!” Something just wasn’t doing it for me, though, so I kept moving and looking.
And, then, they caught my eye.
Unmistakably. Unabashedly. Unwaveringly.
It was the most beautiful kind of pear I’ve ever seen, and there was a bin of them beckoning me over.
Three Visits to The Bosc Pears: One …
Now, mind you, I’ve gone for decades without letting down my guard to the mighty pear! And, yet, something pulled me over to them, and I couldn’t stop looking at these warm-cinnamon-brown beings under a sign “Bosc Pears.”
In my mind, fruits are supposed to be vibrant colors – so why was I so drawn to these Bosc Pears? Brown isn’t usually the calling card for appealing fruit, but not the case in this case. Not only were they the most beautiful color, their shapes and sizes were interesting – they reminded me of standing people of different heights.
Quickly I came to my senses, though, and walked away.
Pears, remember. No pears, no way.
I returned to all the bright red and green and yellow fruits and vegetables, and yet nothing struck me as my find. Maybe I could swing back over and take a second look at those beautiful pears, which is what I did. Before long, though, I’d come to my senses again – and moved away. Pears!
I drove that shopping cart up and down and all around the same paths I’d been taking on the aisles with the brightly calling fruits and vegetables for at least an hour. Seriously, an hour.
And at this point, I physically was about as far away from those Bosc Pears as I could be in the produce department – when once again they caught my glance, and I was done.
Smitten by a pear, go figure!
Back I went for a third time, and even though there were green and red and yellow pears nearby, all I could see were those gorgeous cinnamon-brown Bosc Pears.
I wheeled over, got closer, and gingerly picked up one – and decided if pears had a beauty pageant, the Bosc would win hands down!
And We Have a Winner – Bosc Pears!
Given that I have never cooked pears, let’s just say my knowledge on that point is seriously non-existent. I had no idea what I was going to make with the pears, but I did know that they were coming home with me and I’d figure it out.
I could hardly wait to get them in front of my camera!
Standing at the Bosc Pear bin, I started carefully selecting the ones I wanted to buy. In one of my previous blog posts on The Daily Artisan, I wrote about making blackberries audition for a role atop a chocolate cake I was making for friends – these blackberries had to show me they could stand as proud decorations!
Well, I did the same thing with the Bosc Pears in the produce department – each one I picked up was able to stand upright on a nearby box, and I carefully put seven in my shopping bag. Pears (pears!) were coming home with me, and after I took their pictures, I was going to bake them and eat them!
But What To Do With Them?
Remembering once seeing someone eating a pear salad with walnuts on it, I thought that would be a good place to start for pairing. And then I thought of nutmeg and cinnamon. This was beginning to come together!
Since my pear skills … well, I don’t have any pear skills, frankly … so my next thought was to make Bosc Pear galettes. Honestly I’ve made so many galettes with the bright-colored fruits, I didn’t think I could mess it up – so pear galettes it would be.
And that’s exactly what I did – pear galettes with these beauties, the Bosc Pears!
Raw Product Photographs of the Pears
First, though, I photographed the Bosc Pears, and just as in the grocery store, I was entranced by their stunning, muted colors. I chose a sheet pan surface and black background for the photographs, and I really don’t think anybody could take a bad picture of this beautiful fruit.
After photographing them, I made 15 mini-galettes (each 3 1/2″ diameter), and one larger galette (9″ diameter) from the pears. They turned out to be perfect for this rustic-dessert favorite of mine, and I used my regular approach for baking galettes – after I (late to the party) Googled how to core a pear…
The pears were sliced thin and arranged in the centers of the pastry dough circles. Next, a mixture of vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, melted butter, and turbinado sugar was placed on top of each galette. After this, I added chopped walnuts.
Then I folded over and pinched the dough edges toward the middle of the galettes; brushed the edges with a beaten egg; sprinkled more turbinado sugar on them; and baked them in the oven.
Bosc Pear Galettes and Tillamook Ice Cream
My house smelled amazing as the pear galettes baked, and I was prepared to top them with the absolutely best ice cream, Tillamook, which I previously blogged about on National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. I found out that Vanilla Bean is the perfect Tillamook for pear galettes!
When the galettes came out of the oven, I did my scene styling and post-baking photographs, and it was a lot of fun. I set up one of the hot mini-galettes with Tillamook ice cream on top so it could melt into the cream rivulets that are so tasty with this kind of dessert.
And as I photographed this particular galette, I knew it had my name on it … and when all the pictures were taken, I sat down quietly with my Bosc Pear mini-galette with Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream melting over it; took a bite; and knew pears were here to stay for the rest of my life. We’ve missed a lot of good years together!
USA Pears Organization (and Other Stuff I didn’t Know)
Afterwards, I did some Internet research about pears … all new to me … and found out that 10 of them grown in the pear-growing center of Oregon and Washington states have different flavors and textures.
The Bosc Pear is described as … wait for it … CRISP (no mush here) and woodsy with a honey sweetness. Oh, so true. And, I got lucky because I certainly also didn’t know that Bosc Pears are highly rated for baking and grilling because their flesh is denser and therefore they hold their shape better.
Turns out there is an organization called USA Pears, which got its start in 1931 as a non-profit marketing organization “to promote, advertise and develop markets for fresh pears grown in Washington and Oregon.” USA Pears has a great website with lots of educational information about pears, including their many health and nutrition benefits; recipes; and tips such as pear, cheese and wine pairings.
It feels like I should send USA Pears an apology note for my lifelong dismissal of pears – but since that’s no longer the case after today’s Bosc Pears photography and baking, I’ll just call myself a convert and swear to a future full of pears!
Here are some more of my photographs from today’s Bosc Pears and the galettes – enjoy!
Have you ever disliked a food only to find out years later that you actually like it? What was it? Be sure to comment below!