(Family Features) - Some things just go together, especially for the holidays - hot cocoa and marshmallows ... turkey and stuffing ... and a fresh new holiday duo, tea and pears.
"Combining flavorful ingredients such as tea and pears in holiday recipes can bring your holiday party a depth of flavors that ranges from crisp and clean to sweet and spicy," says Kathy Casey, celebrity chef, mixologist and author of "Sips & Apps." "Tea and pears are both affordable ingredients that add a great flavor combination to dishes and drinks."
With this duo, elegant holiday entertaining is as simple as stopping by your local grocer.
Several gorgeous varieties of pears are in season throughout the holidays - including the Anjou, Comice, Bosc, Concorde, Starkrimson, and Bartlett. Pears come in a wide range of colors and flavors that easily suit any festive menu. They also make a delicious dessert alternative to heavy sweets and pastries.
With varieties including black, green, white and oolong as well as herbal infusions, teas span the flavor spectrum for every taste. From delicate and fruity to bold and spicy, brands such as Tazo offer tea varieties perfect for every occasion. More and more home cooks and chefs are discovering that tea can go beyond the cup and add dynamic flavor to many recipes.
Pears and tea also offer guests the gift of health benefits - one medium-sized pear has 24 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber and is a good source of vitamin C. And made with all-natural herbs, spices and botanicals, tea naturally includes antioxidants.
When is a pear ripe? Check the neck!
Serve guests pears at the peak of ripeness. The best way to judge whether a fresh pear is ripe, sweet and juicy is to Check the Neck:
- Press the neck or stem end of the pear with your thumb, and if it yields to gentle pressure it is ripe and ready to eat.
- To ripen your pears at home, keep them at room temperature. For a simple yet elegant decoration, arrange them in a beautiful fruit bowl as you wait for them to ripen.
- To slow ripening, simply put the pears in the refrigerator.
Cooking with tea: The basics
Tea can add exotic flavor, antioxidants and pizzazz to your dishes without adding artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Substitute freshly brewed tea for water in your favorite recipes.
- Use dry or brewed tea as a rub or marinade for meats, fish or poultry. Before cooking, try rubbing salmon with fruity herbal infusions and top with fresh lemon slices, or marinate chicken in orange tea and fresh cranberry sauce.
- Steam rice or vegetables using freshly brewed tea to enhance the natural flavors without adding oil or salt.
For more recipes, tips and information about fresh USA Pears, visit www.usapears.org.
For more information about Tazo's full line of teas, visit www.tazo.com.