DECEMBER’S CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: PEAR CREAM TART

PEAR (OR PEACH) CREAM TART

from John Rudy

This recipe (with slight modifications) is from page 188 of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts, a marvelous book with easy-to-understand instructions and wonderful pictures.  This recipe is for a 10” pie pan.  For a 12” pan, increase everything by 50%.  I feel that the crust is a bit thick, so that can be decreased some, which, of course, makes room for more of the filling.  The 10” pie serves 8.   It is really easy–and fast–to make.

1 tsp                      Cinnamon

½ cup plus 3 Tbs   Sugar

1 cup                     Whipping or Heavy Cream

2 large                   Egg yolks

1¼  cups              All purpose Flour (not sifted)

¼ tsp                     Salt

¾ stick                  Butter (softened)

2  29oz cans      Sliced pears (or peaches).  It really needs a can plus about 2-3 more halves. With peaches, I use 2½ of the small cans.

10” pie pan

Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

  1. In medium bowl, with fork, mix the flour, salt, 3 Tbs sugar and then cut in the butter (I use two knives) until it resembles course crumbs.
  2. Optionally spray the pan with some Pam
  3. By hand, press the flour mixture into the glass pie plate, on the bottom and up the sides.  Bring it to at least ¼” of the top as the pie will get that high.  Take care that the bottom of the sides is not too thick as you won’t have enough flour mixture for the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mix the cinnamon and ½ cup of the sugar (not the last 3 Tbs)
  5. Separately, beat the cream with the egg yolks
  6. If you have pear halves take the drained AND DRIED slices and cover the bottom of the pan.  Sometimes the slices have to be cut to fit properly.  Do it in concentric circles.  Evenly cover them with the cinnamon-sugar combination.  If it is not even, a portion of the sugar will glaze but the rest will need more time!  With sliced peaches it will take two circles.  NOTE: Don’t fill in all the spaces with fruit or the custard will not all fit in.
  7. Bake for 7+ minutes (it might take a few minutes more) until the cinnamon-sugar mixture is caramelized.
  8. Pour the cream mixture over the pears and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (or mostly so).  A 9” pan takes about 22 mins; a 10” pan about 27 mins.  NOTE: do not overcook
  9. Cool the tart over a wire rack ~2 hours and then refrigerate if not using immediately.  Don’t cover with wrap until it is totally cooled (another 2 hours).
“BOLLI Matters” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)

POP CULTURE WITH DENNIS GREENE: THE KOMINSKY METHOD

A Cure for the “End of Golf Season” Blues

By Dennis Greene 

It is that time of year.  The colorful leaves are falling from the trees, the sun is setting early, there is a raw, chilly wind, and the golf course is closing.  I have ceased my exercise routine, begun overeating, rapidly put on 15 pounds, and have a constant desire to nap. Either I am suffering a bout of fall melancholy or a long dormant urge to hibernate is about to erupt.

While recently lounging on my living room couch, trying to decide whether to make a black and white frappe or take a nap, I clicked on Netflix and was confronted with a promo for The Kominsky Method, a new sit-com created by Chuck Lorre.  Now Mr. Lorre’s creations have  been serving as my antidepressant  ever since 1997 when I discovered Dharma and Greg, his fourth TV series. That was followed by Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, and Mom. I also feel Chuck and I have a special connection through a mutual friend, though that connection is somewhat attenuated. In 1986, during Lorre’s guitar playing and songwriting phase, he wrote Deborah Harry’s hit single “French Kissin” for her Rockbird album. By an unbelievable coincidence, twenty years earlier, when I was a student at Lafayette College and Debbie was at nearby Centenary Junior College, she dated one of my fraternity brothers and we hung out together.  That means there is only one degree of separation between Chuck Lorre and me. He is almost a friend of mine.

The Kominsky Method started streaming on Netflix on Nov. 16. The series co-stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as two aging friends in their “later years,” dealing with the rapidly changing world of Los Angeles while their own respective lives, bodies, and minds are deteriorating.  Douglas plays Sandy Kominsky, a washed-up actor but skilled acting teacher, and Arkin plays Norman Neulander, a successful talent agent and Kominsky’s long-time friend. Surprisingly, Douglas and Arkin had never met or worked together before, but Lorre brought them together, and the two Oscar-winning actors, proven masters of their craft, fit together perfectly. They are a pair of “buddies” to rival Newman and Redford, Lemmon and Matthau or the more recent Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin of Frankie and Grace.

The Kominsky supporting cast is also superb. Nancy Travis, whom I have admired since Three Men and a Baby,  is Douglas’s slightly younger (but, at 57, still “mature” ) love interest; Susan Sullivan, the veteran star of Falcon Crest, plays the ghost of Norman’s deceased wife; Lisa Edelstein, recently a regular on House, plays Norman’s drug addicted daughter; and Ann-Margret is cast as a lonely widow with her eye on Norman.  For me, the high point of the first season was Danny DeVito’s brilliant portrayal of Sandy and Norman’s effervescent urologist.

Many of the subjects dealt with in Kominsky are dark or sad, which is not unexpected in a show about the “twilight years,” but the humor and honesty pervading the writing and the acting enable the viewer to easily get through the tough spots without trivializing the real issues.

I binge watched all eight episodes in one weekend and was again left with a void in my life, but one that was easily filled. There have been several successful Lorre series I had missed completely, so I used the power of Xfinity’s “on demand” function and found all 87 episodes of Cybill,  Lorre’s third series creation which aired during the four years preceding Dharma and Greg. The show starred Cybill Shephard, who I remembered only as the stunning, naked teenager who dived into the swimming pool in The Last Picture Show. In the Cybill series she plays a struggling 40ish actress with two likeable but contrasting ex-husbands, two daughters and an acerbic best friend, played by the brilliant Christine Baranski, who earned an Emmy for her Cybill role. Baranski more recently starred as Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife, and currently appears as Leonard Hofsteder’s mother on the Big Bang Theory.

Last night, as I watched the first two episodes of Cybill, I realized why I so enjoy Chuck Lorre creations. Though he got his start writing for Roseanne, he left quickly, citing “creative differences,” and from then on, all of his characters (except maybe Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men) have been fundamentally nice, decent people. Lorre understands flawed characters involved in complex human interactions and enables us to see the humor in it all.

But most importantly, Lorre “gets” friendship. The relationships portrayed by Douglas and Arkin in Kominsky, Shepherd and Baranski in Cybill, the entire cast of The Big Bang Theory, and Allison Janney,  Anna Faris and the support group on Mom all are uplifting and just make the viewer feel good. This isn’t a brilliant insight on my part. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld clearly showcased the appeal and entertainment value of friendship in their hugely successful sit-com, and to make sure none of us missed the point, they named it Friends.

Not only does Lorre create wonderful friendships on screen, but he also seems adept at forming them in real life. The number of actors who seem to reappear in his work suggests that  he forms lasting relationships with the talented people he encounters. Actors he met on Roseanne decades ago, like John Galecki, Sara Gilbert and Laurie Metcalf, as well as more recent discoveries like Christine Baranski, appear in his projects today. I suspect Chuck Lorre would be a good guy to hang out with.        

My depression is over, and I’m again ready to face the trials of late middle age. Cheer yourself up and binge watch The Kominsky Method, or watch the series more patiently if you are so inclined, and extend the enjoyment. It’s “Friends” for our generation.

“BOLLI MATTERS” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since.  More recently, he’s been exercising his writing muscles–in the Writers Guild and as a member of the “BOLLI Journal” staff.