There’s so much contrast during the month of December: muted grey skies and long evenings, the mellowness of soups and stews and slow-cooked foods, and the quiet, sparkling nostalgia of the holidays. And then there is the rush of parties, frantic gift-buying and year-end celebrating. I love the back and forth between the festive and frenzied and the quiet and calm; I think a balance of both is what gets me through the month with a modicum of sanity.
Pears epitomize the quietness of the season; their flavor is subtle, even understated. Nobody really regards pears as the all-star fruit of the season. (Citrus gets that honor.) But there’s something classy and refined in their subtlety, which makes the fruit an ideal counterpoint at a holiday party. Here, pears are simmered with rosemary into a luscious, silky jam. Spooned warm over the creamiest goat cheese you can find and delivered on a cracker or thin slice of toasted baguette, you and your guests will be in quiet heaven. And it’s a cinch to prepare, which is important this time of year. Now go on and get to celebrating.
Pear and Rosemary Crostini With Goat Cheese
For the jam:
4 ripe pears, such as Bartlett, cored and diced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
For the crostini:
1 baguette, thinly sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
6 ounces mild, creamy goat cheese
Cracked black pepper
Combine the pears, rosemary, lemon juice, sugar and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until jammy, about an hour. Stir at regular intervals, increasing frequency as water reduces.
Note: If you’re not a fan of the pungent flavor of rosemary, please seal the herbs in muslin or cheesecloth for easy removal after cooking.
While the jam is simmering, prepare the crostini: Toast thin rounds of baguette at 300 degrees until crisp and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
You can serve these with the jam warm, or prepare the jam in advance and serve chilled.
Smear a small amount of goat cheese over each slice of toasted baguette, top with a spoonful of jam, and finish with cracked black pepper.
This jam is not shelf stable. Please store in the fridge, or if you’d like to can it, refer to the excellent Food in Jars for proper canning guidelines.
Here are some other fun recipes for your holiday entertaining:
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.