By Paul Suplee
It is 7 a.m. on a brisk winter’s morn. Felix – one of our older cats – digs a single claw ever so delicately into my cheek as I sleep in my warm bed. He wants to eat.
Begrudgingly, I rise to the other two cats staring at me as though they know they are piercing holes in me, their thousand-yard stares telling me that they have seen more than they should have ever seen in this sordid life.
As I shuffle to the feeding trough, the wafting aromas of pear tart in the kitchen pleasantly greeted me. As I had baked it late last night, the sweet and delicate smells meet me and at least turned my cat-influenced grimace into somewhat of a smile.
I am not a cat person. In fact, I am allergic to the damn things. Yet, I find myself subject to their concise daily instructions of “feed us and change the litter, or we will hurt you. Pet us no more than three times, or we will hurt you. And if we do not approach you, you do not approach us.”
Years ago, I married into cats despite my allergies. In Baltimore, we had Tigger and Bunky, the former being a miserable beast and the latter being much more loving. I went through myriad allergy medicine cocktails and eventually found one that would allow me to reside with the furry beasts.
Eventually those two cats crossed the rainbow bridge (what a euphemism for what actually happens to them) and we were cat-free. Then came the Great Straight-A Treat of 2008. The Kids ganged up on us and convinced us that getting a kitten would be a great idea. As I practiced the “good husband compromise” on a regular basis, I simply acquiesced.
We found a kitten at a store that was sponsoring adoptions and agreed on the first. However, the entire trip home, the kids cried that we did not take his twin brother; I’m pretty sure the kids didn’t understand how litters work and as such he would have had more than one “twin.”
They cried all night.
They beat us down.
By the next afternoon, we had two kittens. At that point, I knew that I had lost the battle and the war. The cats were here to stay.
Fast forward to 2010, and I foolishly told my kids to look at the adorable kitten that followed our neighbor around as he went on walks. It was 32-degrees outside and they were terrified of his safety. I assured them that he was a sturdy feral cat and that he would be fine. You know where this is going.
Adding yet one more cat to the fray in 2012, we now had a veritable jungle. Luckily, we were able to re-home one cat (The one that I am deathly allergic to) with my mother-in-law, so he is still around. But the other three are here, and they are here to stay.
Words cannot express how defeated I get when I see these little bastards tearing up the rattan barstools or scratching the legs of the good table. But, they remind me every morning with a quick-flick of a claw that they aren’t going anywhere.
At least I now have the dog that chases them around and terrorizes them. They did not seem to be too concerned with him when he was a puppy, but now that he is large and in-charge, he is much more of an annoyance to them.
And as they eat, I cut myself a slice of the tart and warm it up. Ice cream? Yes, please. Breakfast is served. Now, leave me alone, you damn cats.
Pear Tart in Puff Pastry
1 full sheet puff pastry
8 Anjou or Bosc pears
1 cup Light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup Apricot jelly, melted with 1 tsp. water
dash cinnamon and ginger
- Lay out the puff pastry and cut a circle one-inch larger than you want the tart
- Wet the edge and roll the crust over to form the circle that will contain your filling
- Once this is done, use a sharp paring knife to carefully trace the ring on the inside of the crust that you folded over. You want to ensure that you don’t cut all the way through the crust; you simply want there to be a breakaway for the crust as it cooks
- Use a fork to dock the inner circle where your filling will go. This will help to compress the dough here and form a nice tart without the tart pan
- Peel the pears and cut the flesh off by turning the pear, giving you the roundish filets you see in the picture as opposed to the fine slices you so often see in pear tarts. This will give you a heartier tart and in my opinion, the fruit will withstand the heat a little better, retaining moisture and flavor
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well
- Place the filling on the tart and bake in a 400F oven and bake until the pears are soft and the pastry is golden
- Serve warm with ice cream and whipped cream, and if you feel so inclined, a caramel sauce would be divine with this fine dish