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Pear Gingerbread

20 Oct

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I didn’t use to like pears. I had a strange prejudice against them. The texture wasn’t quite crisp enough, the flavor perhaps a little too floral. And you can’t deny the slight graininess. I was an apple girl.

But I’ve made a real effort to give foods I didn’t use to like a chance to prove themselves to me again, to show their worth. My parents did a fair job trying to expand my palate as a kid. I grew up eating Thai food and all manor of sea creatures, but some dislikes are hard to get past. Brussels sprouts? I didn’t even try them until I was in my late teens. Squash? In pie form only, thank you. And don’t even get me started on peas and carrots.

Tastes change, however, and now I’m known to buy four different types of squash at the farmers market. I make Brussels sprouts for my boyfriend and I on a weekly basis. I’m still not a fan of carrots, though I’ve had success with an admittedly delicious carrot ginger soup. Peas are still a no go. Sorry peas!

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Pears got their chance as well. It started with perhaps some matchsticks in a salad, or a few pear slices eaten with some stinky bleu cheese. Their merits started to show. That sweet, floral flavor pairs nicely with tangy foods and hearty spices. Hmm…perhaps pears aren’t so bad after all!

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The real star of this Pear Gingerbread, however, is the molasses. It’s dark, smoky, slightly bitter aroma is the perfect counterpoint to the warm spices and sweet pears. Now, before the Paleo Police come knocking on my door, I know that some people might not consider molasses to be on the paleo “yes” foods list. There seems to be an overarching taboo towards all things cane-derived in this community, but in all honesty, why is cane sugar any less natural than coconut sugar? Both have been extracted and refined from a plant. And of all the forms of cane sugar, molasses still contains some vitamins and minerals. Look into it.

Besides, it really wouldn’t taste like gingerbread to me without a little molasses. If you really want to avoid it, substitute with additional honey or maple syrup. It won’t have the same rich flavor, but it will still be delicious.  Or you can live on the edge. I dare you!

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Spiced Dried Fruit Pumpkin Loaf

9 Oct

We are in the midst of an epidemic. Everyone is experiencing Pumpkin Fever right now. It usually hits near the first of October, and it’s a fast-spreading and potent illness whose symptoms only worsen through the remainder of the year. The only cure is to feed the fire. You must start eating as much pumpkin-laden food as you can stuff into your pumpkin-pie-hole. From lattes to muffins to pancakes and waffles. And it’s not restricted to sweet treats either. I’ve even seen recipes for pumpkin enchiladas and pumpkin chili!

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Here’s my first contribution to the pumpkin recipe roundup, and boy is it a winner! I took my first bite of this Spiced Dried Fruit Pumpkin Loaf, took another bite, made my boyfriend take a bite, looked at him expectantly, eyes wide and declared “I nailed this one, didn’t I?” He took another bite. “Oh yeah,” he mumbled with his mouth full.

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I decided to mix in chestnut flour with my usual base of almond flour for this recipe. Ground chestnuts create a very fine flour with a rich brown color and a nutty, sweet aroma that I thought would pair beautifully with the fragrant blend of spices in this loaf. The texture and flavor of this pumpkin loaf are truly divine. You can find chestnut flour in some specialty markets (it’s commonly used in Italian cooking), but you can also order it online. Go buy some– I plan to use it more often in future recipes!

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The mix of dried fruits in this loaf makes it a little more interesting than your typical pumpkin loaf. I went heavy with the spices as well to create an intoxicating flavor experience. A slice of this loaf is a truly decadent treat and will satisfy even the most powerful Pumpkin Fever cravings.

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