Poached, syrup pears basking in smooth almond cream with a splash of Amaretto.
Crunch and savour the cradle of granola as every bite sings to your taste buds.

February usually brings on a tad of impatience with the last of winters month.

If one does not have a chance to take a break for vacation out in...
some paradise setting...one has to look elsewhere and be creative. 

My little friend knows a little something about that.
Seek the unexpected pleasures right in front of you...
maybe colorful stretches with a few crayons in hand?

Introducing MANDALA...
what I call a little meditative paradise any time any where.
A splash of colorful curves here and there and all of a sudden you have...
beauty on paper and peaceful serenity in your heart.

Comforting, energizing and relaxing often describes what coloring a Mandala can offer you.
In Sanskrit, MANDALAS means CIRCLES...sacred symbols used for meditation and healing.

There have been clinical studies that demonstrated the beneficial effects of therapy through Mandalas.
It seems that immune systems are given a boost as stress and pain significantly reduce.

Sometimes it's just fabulous to get back to basics. 
Child memories of coloring for hours without a care in the world can be yours again if you need it.

One strong suggestion to avoid any type of adult frustration would be to start with simple images.
Secondly, and most important is to use the best colored pencils or markers you can find.
You'll understand what I mean when you have the luxury of finishing your very first Mandala.
I can assure you that you'll feel a certain satisfaction which you may not have felt in a long time.

Here is an excerpt taken from an interview with:
 Michal Beaucaire...'The Art of Mandala Meditation'
" We logically think and analyze using our brain's left side...
 while the brain's right side processes imagining, associations and connections to feelings — the hemisphere.  
When we are in harmony we can take our mind and bodies to a whole new enlightened state capable of making ourselves...
feel better, stronger and more connected to ourselves, each other and our surroundings."

Alright, back to your foodie that will share with you my last pie creation.
Inspired by the circular motions of my latest Mandala, pears stepped up to the plate.

Always keeping in mind to simplify matters, I used a crushed granola as the crust base.
Now, how happy are you not to have to roll out a dough?  
You are so welcome ;o)

ALMOND cream PEAR pie 
Note: for the granola, it can be store bought or homemade (preferred)

1 x 9 inch (23cm)...serves 8 portions

(American / Metric measures)

Granola crust:
. 2 cups (180g) crushed Granola
. some grape seed oil to grease the pie plate
Poached Pears:
. 3 medium, ripe
Bosc pears
. 2 cups (500ml) water
. 1/2 cup (110g) granulated, organic sugar
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) fresh lemon juice

Almond cream filling:
. 1/4 cup (60ml) unsalted butter, softened
. 1/8 cup (30ml) vegetable oil (grape seed preferred)
. 1/2 cup (110g) granulated, organic sugar

. 1 xlarge egg
. 1 tsp. (5ml) pure almond extract
. 1 Tbsp. (15ml) Amaretto liquor

. 1 small lemon, finely zested
. 1 heaping cup (110g) Almond flour (gr. blanched almonds)
. 2 Tbsps. (30ml) all-purpose flour
. garnish: 1/8 cup (20g) sliced, raw almonds

Poach the Pears:
1. Remove stems and peel the pears immediately before starting the syrup.
2. In a small saucepan, bring both water and sugar to a boil.  Immediately add in the lemon juice and peeled pears.  Reduce the heat to a notch lower than MEDIUM and simmer the pears for 20 minutes.  Occasionally turn them.  Remove the pot from the heat and let the pears completely cool in its syrup (about 2 hours).
Almond cream filling:
3. In a medium-large bowl, beat together the butter, oil and sugar with an electrical beater until combined.  Then, beat in the egg, almond extract, Amaretto liquor and lemon zest.  Finish by adding both flours.  Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and chill this preparation for no more than 2 hours.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas4.  Position oven rack on the 2nd level from the bottom.  Generously oil the pie plate.  Add the crushed granola and press down and on the sides.
Pear slice decor:
5. Gently manipulate the cooled pears out of the syrup* and begin to quarter them lengthwise.  Core each slice.  Now, slice each one lengthwise again in order to get 24 slices.
6. Gently spoon in and spread the almond cream into the pie crust.  Then, gently lay and spiral the pear slices WITHOUT pressing them in.  Spread the sliced almonds over top.
. BAKE the pie for 45 minutes or until a golden glow appears. Serve at room temperature.  Can be kept out for up to 2 days, otherwise refrigerate and then lightly re-warm.

 * With the remaining Pear syrup (about 1-1/2+cups (375ml) worth)...refrigerate for making great cocktails or other beverages.  Better yet, make another dessert where cookies require to be dunked into liquid.  Cold desserts like Tiramisu.  Otherwise, freeze syrup into ice cubes for later.  Can also be used as a thicker syrup (cooked on MED. heat until reduced by half) to be poured on pancakes or ice-cream, etc...

I truly believe that there's no age too old to color your day and cares away.  
If you have a chance, do look up this wonderful hobby.  
The internet holds a plethora of info and especially gorgeous images which many are offered free.
Enlighten and restore yourself during this very enjoyable process.  
Then, don't forget to have a piece of pie. ;o)

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at:  foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)

. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.