My mother was quite a cook. She was a foodie long before there was even such a word. I suppose she thought of herself as a gourmet cook. She adored Gourmet magazine and saved every issue for years. I wonder what ever became of those…
I am spending an entire week presenting recipes from my mother’s personal collection. After my mother passed away in 1993 my brother had the good sense to seek out the large collection of recipes she had begun to store in her computer and print them out cookbook style as a very special remembrance for the people who loved her and loved having her cook for us.
He called that collection Judi’s Bistro. This simply bound book remains one of my most cherished possesions. But the funny thing is until I decided to do this weeklong tribute to my mother and her recipes I had never cooked from this book. I pulled it out many, many (many) times to seek culinary inspiration and quietly remember my mother. But I never sat down, followed a recipe and cooked from it.
So that is partly what this week is all about. Because I have certainly eaten my mother’s cooking, but I have never really looked at her recipes and tried to see where she was coming from. That’s changing this week.
Now don’t get me wrong. I loved my mother and this isn’t a criticism particularly. But man oh man, did she leave a lot to the imagination in her recipes! I suppose this is partly because she was such a good cook. She probably seasoned things as she went, at just the right times. So she never really bothered to write much down in her recipes regarding seasoning. Her food was never ever undereasoned, in fact (like me) she could have a bold hand when it came to spice. So I am left to read between the lines a little.
She also took shortcuts when it came to cooking times in her recipes. There are a lot of “bake at 350 degrees until done” sort of directions. I guess she just knew when done was done! What I am trying to say is, if you knew my mom you’d know how very “her” this is. Because even when the directions are lacking, I know what she meant in almost every instance. Still, if you never had the opportunity to meet her and understand how she thought you might have some trouble with her versions. So I have rewritten some of these recipes so that they are easier for you to follow. Today’s Baked Pear & Gorgonzola Salad is just such a recipe.
I look at it this way. My mother dropped out of college to help support my father while he was in medical school. She became a secretary. In those days, shorthand was a valuable skill for a secretary to possess. I think a lot of her recipes used this skill… but I don’t know for sure, maybe she just wanted us to read her mind. Because that’s exactly how I feel when I read her recipes– like I’m reading her mind. And that makes me happy.
- 1 large firm pear
- 2 T gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 1⁄4 c walnuts
- 1⁄4 head bibb lettuce, rinsed dried and roughly torn
- your favorite vinaigrette to taste
- black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the pear in half lengthwise and carefully remove the core with a paring knife. Slice a small sliver from the bottom side so it will sit flat. Place them onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese over each pear half and bake until the pear is soft all the way through and the cheese gets brown and bubbly. About 12 minutes, depending on the size of your pears.
While the pears bake, quickly toast the walnut halves by in a dry hot pan until fragrant and golden, tossing frequently. About 3 minutes.
Toss the lettuce leaves in a bit of your favorite vinaigrette and divide them between 2 serving plates. Divide the walnuts between both plates and put a pear on top of it all. Drizzle a bit more vinaigrette over the top and give it a good grinding of black pepper.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD