Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Pair of Pears -- muffin and salad #recipes from @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: As many of you know, Mr. Right is a doctor of natural medicine, primarily acupuncture, and his clinic is in our home. I’m not sure if it’s our location, in the woods outside a small town, or their generosity and gratitude that prompts some of his patients to bring him gifts, but I do enjoy them, like these fabulous dahlias. (Alas, the local restaurateur who brought us lovely bottles of wine no longer has back pain, thanks to Mr. Right, so no more gifts of wine!)

But when two bags of plums and pears showed up in one week, and my hunny was leaving town for a few days for a seminar, I had to get creative. Pears this week; we’ll talk plums on my next turn.

Years ago, when I first started teaching myself to cook, I made dozens of muffins. I’d learned to bake pies, cookies, and quick breads from my mother, but her idea of muffins was a box of Jiffy muffin mix. Somehow, I ended up with three muffin cookbooks. This recipe is a variation of one I’d apparently never made before, judging from the lack of scribbled notes, Mostly Muffins by Barbara Albright and Leslie Weiner (St. Martin’s Press, 1984). These are moist, dense, and fruity, with the spice combo of a fragrant gingerbread – great for fall.

In the muffins, I mixed the yellow and red pears – what variety they are, I have no idea. Call them "Bill and Bea's Pears."

For the salad, half a yellow pear worked perfectly. I made a simple balsamic dressing, but a red wine vinaigrette with shallots would be lovely, too.

When I initially typed up the muffin recipe, it called for diced bears, so here’s a picture of one, leaving our apple tree.

Ginger Pear Muffins

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup (8 ounces) plain yogurt (not vanilla)
½ cup canola or other vegetable oil
3 tablespoons molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups diced pears (3-4 small)
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a medium bowl, mix yogurt, oil, molasses, and egg until blended. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the yogurt mixture; stir to combine. Stir in pears, raisins, and walnuts.

Spoon batter into muffin pan – fill to the top, as these won’t rise a lot. Bake 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then remove from cups to finish cooling. Serve warm or cool. Store in an airtight container. These freeze well.

Makes 12- 15 muffins.

Arugula Pear and Blue Cheese Salad with Pecans and Vinaigrette

arugula – about half a cup for each salad
a ripe pear, sliced  – half for each salad
blue cheese or gorgonzola, crumbled – half an ounce or about one tablespoon for each salad
toasted pecans, broken or chopped – 4-5 halves, about one tablespoon

Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar, light or dark

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Close and shake vigorously to mix, about 10 seconds. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Refrigerate leftovers up to a week. Shake to mix or re-emulsify before using.

Compose the salads: Lay arugula leaves on a salad plate. Arrange the pear slices on top. Add the crumbled cheese and broken nuts. Dress, serve, and enjoy!

"Budewitz's finely drawn characters, sharp ear for dialogue, and well-paced puzzle make Jewel Bay a destination for every cozy fan." --- Kirkus Reviews

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink,  available in trade paper, e-book, and audio):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. Muffins are my easy and quick comfort food! They are great with breakfast and dessert! I am glad I do not need to find a bear for the recipe!

    1. Yes, cooking with bears seems a bit, mmm, dicey, doesn't it?

  2. Yum--diced bears! Fresh or frozen? (BTW, I have about a dozen muffin tins of various shapes and sizes, if you need some extras.)

    1. I bet you do! I've got two standard tins and a mini, which is great for crustless quiches.

  3. The muffins look chunky fruity good.
    The combination of spicy arugula and sweet pears sounds perfect.

  4. Loved the note and photo regarding the typo. Just imagining the beginning of the recipe that would have been, "First track your bear...."
    I have been baking with pumpkin and yams most recently. A change of pace with pear muffins will be great! Enjoy the fact that you shared a salad, too. I am particularly fond of Arugula, blue cheese, and nuts.
    Oh, and must say that you and Mr. Right get a nice perk!

    1. Right? I'll confess, the dahlias made me cry. The patient, who is a lovely, generous man, had no idea that I grew up on Dahlia Lane or that my mother had died earlier in the summer. I put one bouquet next to her picture.

  5. Both recipes look wonderful. I can't wait to try them!

    1. And no bears needed -- though you have your own supply!

  6. Looks wonderful. I can almost smell them. Glad there were no bears injured in making them!

    1. Bears love pears! And apples, and cherries, and ...