Lidia Bastianich- Chef, Restaurateur, Author, and Host of a truly inspirational cooking show on PBS. To me, she is way more than a celebrity chef. Because sometimes I look at a few of those Food Network Stars and I think– really? Really?? Are you really all that? But Lidia’s different. She’s in a whole other league. I actually take notes when I am lucky enough to come across her shows on television. I know because I was recently clearing out several old notebooks of stuff. They were chock-full of gibberish and partial recipes, as well as a few things I dare not mention. Keep in mind these notebooks came from a time well before I figured out that a blog was a much better way to go when it came to documenting the things I love.
But I am so glad I decided to give these notebooks one last peek before I gave them the old heave-ho. Because there were several valuable sections that were actually decipherable! They may even find themselves a home here on Sippity Sup. Starting with today’s Roasted Pears with Candied Celery. I saw you take a double take, and that’s just what I did too. But there, inside one of these notebooks– in nearly plain English, I saw the words: “Lidia B. Pears and Candied Celery- that’s so strange it has to be good”. I honestly can’t remember where I saw her present this recipe. But fortunately, I wrote it down in rather clear detail. That’s odd for me, so I know I must have been quite impressed.
Which brings me to today’s Market Matters from the Hollywood Farmers Market. Where I live pears are nearing the height of their season. So I picked up several varieties; including these Bosc pears. They were so beautiful I immediately began to set up this still life you see above. It wasn’t until I had the photo that I began to think about what I might actually make with these pears. I was leaning towards poached and elegant. But that’s when I remembered the “notebook project”
It’s a much more rustic presentation than I originally envisioned. But its elegance is undeniable nonetheless in the unusual marriage of the classic with the unexpected. The lemon zest and the celery are baked along with the pears and then cooked again, separately, in the baking liquid until they are candied. This mixture is then poured over the pears for a very artistic presentation.
Despite that, I know (and I do know) what are thinking about candied celery. I want you to know it’s amazing to me how the celery retains a crunchy texture (despite all the cooking). It seems to take on all the lemony flavors too. Giving this unusual dessert a very appealing sweet and luscious meets tart and crunchy allure.
- 2 lemons
- 4 c cool water
- 1 c Moscato dessert wine
- 3⁄4 c sugar
- 1⁄4 c apricot jam
- 4 firm bosc pears
- 6 large celery ribs, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
Place the oven rack in the center position of the oven. Pre-heat to 375 degrees F.
Using a vegetable peeler remove zest from lemons in thin long, wide bands. Avoid as much of the white pith as possible. In a small saucepan cover the strips of zest with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil drain the strips and rinse them in cool water. Refill the pan and repeat once more. Pat the zest dry.
Squeeze 1/3 cup lemon juice into a bowl, whisk in wine, sugar, and jam until sugar is dissolved.
Halve the pears lengthwise and, using a melon-baller, core the pears.
Spread out celery slices across the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour in wine mixture. Place pears cut side up. Spread zest over and around them. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes, basting once or twice.
Transfer the pears to a shallow serving bowl, pour liquid, zest, and celery into a medium-sized saucepan and reduce the liquid until syrupy, about 15 min.
Pour the celery mixture over the pears and allow to completely cool. Serve at room temperature.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD