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Buckwheat Pear Cake


Generally, I find cooking to be a simple, fun task that I get to engage in almost every day simply because I have to eat. I know many people do not feel this way and approach it like radioactive material, cooking only when necessary and even then with the aid of a great many semi-prepared foods at the ready.

But delicious, beautiful food is easy. Really. In fact, it's kind of shocking how few people realize this--it's as if we all have really bad self-esteem and have decided that the task our grandmothers and great-grandmothers did (and with far fewer resources) is just too difficult for us.

Well, if any recipe is going to prove that cooking is just too easy not to do, this is the one. It's beyond lovely--whip this out at a potluck and watch the jaws drop. Of course, you could be perfectly honest and tell everyone how fast and easy it was to make. But where's the fun in that?

Buckwheat Pear Cake
Makes one 9- or 10-inch cake


This recipe is based on JOY's Apple, Peach, or Plum Cake Cockaigne, so you can absolutely use apples, peaches, or plums instead of pears.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch round cake pan or springform pan. Sift together into a bowl:
            1/2 cup all-purpose flour
            1/2 cup buckwheat flour (you may also just use 1 cup all-purpose flour and omit the buckwheat flour)
            1 teaspoon baking powder
            2 tablespoons sugar
            1/4 teaspoon salt
            3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Beat well in a measuring cup:
            1 large egg
            1/2 teaspoon vanilla
            Enough milk to make 1/2 cup
Stir into the flour and butter to make a stiff dough. You may pat the dough into the greased pan with your floured palm, or spread it in part with a spoon and then distribute it evenly by pushing it with the slices of fruit when you add them. Arrange on top of the dough in tight overlapping rows:
            4 cups sliced pears (about 2 pears, cut into 3/8-inch slices)
Combine and sprinkle over the fruit:
            1 cup packed brown sugar
            2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
            3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Bake about 25 minutes, until tester comes out clean. Serve warm.


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Timing is important here: the mussels and fries should be ready at around the same time.

First, prepare and clean:
     4-6 pounds mussels
To remove sand, soak in...