Friday, November 9, 2018

Pears And Pastry.

Pears are in season now
and I've been coming up with numerous recipes.

If you haven't already,
please try my  
It's a favorite in the Hawthorne Household.

 I also made a pear salad with a pear and poppy seed dressing.

I'm going for a pear dessert today.
Poached pears, stuffed,
then wrapped in pastry
and served with a spicy syrupy reduction sauce.

First you need to poach some pears.

Poached Pears
3 pears
water to cover
1 lemon 
(Use juice, peel, and the lemon halves themselves.)
1 TB cinnamon
1 TB vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1 TB peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
1 cup sugar

Peel and core pears, leaving stems
Place pears in a small sauce pan.
Cover with water.
Peel a lemon and place peel in water.
Juice lemon into water.
Throw in the lemon halves for good measure.
Add rest of ingredients.
Bring to boil.
Reduce to simmer and cook pears 10-15 minutes.
Remove pears from liquid and let pears cool.
Continue cooking liquid at low heat
until reduced by half or thereabouts.
The more you reduce,
the syrupier the reduction gets
and the more concentrated the flavors.
Use your own judgment and taste.

Pears are cooling.

While the pears are cooling,
make the filling.

Pear Filling
(Enough for 3 pears.)
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
1 TB Cambozola cheese

1 TB cream cheese, softened
1 TB craisins

Toast pistachios, let cool, then chop.
Combine with rest of ingredients.

Rosie Note:  Cambozola is a brie-style blue cheese.  I call it the gateway blue.  If you're one of those people who say they "don't like blue cheese," then try Cambozola.  It's a very delicate, soft, spreadable blue - the bunny slope of blues.

Using your fingers, stuff the filling into the cored pears.

Pears are stuffed and ready for wrapping.

Now for the wrap.
Thaw out a package of phyllo sheets in the fridge.
Unroll the sheets and melt some unsalted butter.
Place pear on a square of phyllo,
to hold in the stuffing.
Cut phyllo into strips and start wrapping around the pear.
Brush with butter.

And keep wrapping and brushing.
And brushing and wrapping.

Until the pears are fully encased in the phyllo strips.

Bake at 400° for about 40 minutes,
tenting with foil if necessary.

To serve,
ladle some of the reduced syrup over the pear.

The more you reduce the syrup,
the more intense the flavor.
 And if you have any of that reduction left over,
here's what you do - make pear sauce.
 This is especially good if you have overripe pears.

Mr. Hawthorne's Pear Sauce
2 pears, cored, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 peach, because I had it, peeled and chopped
(You could use another pear or an apple.)
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch kosher salt
2 TB corn syrup

Combine all in a small saucepan.
Cook over low heat until everything thickens and cooks down.
Swirl in a tablespoon or so of the reduced pear syrup.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Pear Salad With Poppy Seed Pear Dressing

It's pear time.
And I've got a pear salad for you
with a pear and poppy seed dressing.
It's a nice touch to your fall menu,
since pears are in season now 
and salads are always in season.

If you'd like a simple soup and salad for lunch,
with an emphasis on fall flavors,
you can't go wrong with this salad

The salad packs colors, flavors, and textures.
Plus it's so pretty!

I started with a sturdy base of fresh romaine,
then tossed in some crisp baby greens
along with a delectable menu of add-ons -
cucumber, craisins, kiwi, grapes, celery,
to name a few.
Then I made up a sweet, slightly tangy and creamy dressing
which paired nicely with the salad ingredients.
The result was a bold presentation
which satisfied completely.

Pear Salad with Poppy Seed and Pear Dressing

Salad fixin’s:
Romaine lettuce
Kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced
Cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
Red onion, chopped
Celery, sliced
Pear and apple, peeled, chopped, and tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning
Red grapes, sliced
Dried cranberries
Candied nuts
Arrange salad ingredients on plates.  Pour dressing over top.

Candied Nuts:
1 cup assorted nuts (I used hazelnuts and almonds.  Walnuts would work well also.)
¼ cup sugar
1 TB water
In small saucepan, combine water and sugar.  Cook over medium heat, stirring, to dissolve sugar.  Bring to boil, then stir in nuts.  Spread nuts in single layer on baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake at 300° for about 25 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes or so.  Let cool.

Pear and Poppy Seed Dressing:
Juice of one lemon (about ¼ cup)
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 TB honey
2 TB sugar
1 TB cider vinegar
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
1 TB poppy seeds
1 small pear

Combine first seven ingredients, stirring together.  Slowly whisk in oil to form an emulsion.  Core and peel pear, coarsely chop, and then purée.  Add to dressing and stir in poppy seeds until well combined.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rosie Makes Tiramisu.

Today, I'm making my version of tiramisu, meaning "pick me up," referring to the shot of espresso which was originally tossed into the concoction.  Tiramisu, if you're wondering, is an Italian dessert.  It's layered with sponge cake or ladyfingers soaked in some type of liqueur (typically rum or coffee), with chocolate or cocoa powder, and mascarpone cheese.

Now, tiramisu comes with a history , which may or may not be true, but it makes a good story.  Most versions of tiramisu's origin say it was created in the 1960s at "Le Beccherie" restaurant in Treviso, Italy.  The chef, Carminantonio Iannaccone, created the dessert based on the everyday flavors of the region - strong espresso coffee, mascarpone-zabaglione cream, bitter cocoa powder, Marsala, and ladyfingers.  However, a more fun account credits the tiramisu as being a product of Italian brothels. As the story goes, in the late 1800s, competition between bordellos was fierce and one particular brothel started offering its customers espresso coffee as a complimentary beverage.  Other brothels followed suit, then to attract more customers as competition increased, the bordellos offered savoiardi cookies (similar to ladyfingers) which were dunked in the espresso or sometimes a liqueur.  The name "tiramisu" means "pick me up" in Italian, since the combination of cookies and espresso was considered an energy booster for patrons so they could go about their daily activities after their bordello activities, instead of taking a nap.

Now, back to tiramisu...
  My version of tiramisu uses what I have on hand.   I have egg whites, so I'm making angel food cake.  I have heavy cream, so I'm making whipped cream.  I have nuts, so I'm making candied pecans and almonds.  And I have a chocolate and caramel concoction I made for a cheesecake topping not too long ago so that's going in it too.  It's going to be good.

Like I said, I have egg whites, so I'm making an angel food cake.
Sort of.
I had a cup of egg whites in the fridge, leftover from when I'd used the yolks for a custard for vanilla ice cream and for a Hollandaise sauce for my Eggs Hawthorne.  The recipes I found for angel food cake generally called for 12 large egg whites.  I didn't want to use that many egg whites, just use the cup I had, which was 6 egg whites, or thereabouts.  So I made a scaled-down angel food cake which turned out to be just right for the tiramisu.

Also, for my tiramisu, I'm not using a big trifle bowl and the whole angel food cake, torn up, at one time.  I'm simply tearing up enough cake for individual servings and layering with whipped cream and my chocolate caramel sauce, then topping with candied nuts.

Rosie's Scaled Down Angel Food Cake
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup egg whites  (6 or so large whites), room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Heat oven to 325°.
I used a 10-inch tube pan which I didn't grease or flour since you want the batter to have something to cling to as it rises.  
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and 6 TB of the sugar.
Using a stand mixer (preferred) beat egg whites for a minute or two.  Add in the salt and extracts and continue beating another minute.  Sprinkle in the cream of tartar and keep beating until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.

Rosie Note:  Separate your eggs when they're cold.  The yolks are firmer and less likely to break at lower temperatures.  Beat your whites at room temperature, when they're more relaxed.  Air is more readily incorporated into room temperature egg whites than cold egg whites and they will beat up to a greater volume.

Beat in the remaining sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.  Gradually fold in the dry ingredients.
Spoon the batter into the pan and bake about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and top springs back when lightly touched.
Remove cake from oven and set it upside down.  Let cool.
Loosen edges of cake and remove from pan.

Here's my half recipe of angel food cake.

Next, I'm making candied nuts.  You can use any nuts you like.  I happen to like pecans and almonds.

Candied Nuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB water
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
Combine sugar and and water in small saucepan.  Heat over low, shaking pan, until sugar dissolves.  Bring just to a boil.  Stir in nuts to coat and remove from heat.
Spread nuts evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet. I sprinkled a little pink sea salt over them, but you could use kosher salt.  Bake at 300° for 20-25 minutes, shaking halfway through.  Let cool.

Nuts going into simmering hot sugar water.

Stir to coat, then spread out on baking sheet and ... bake.

Next I whupped up a batch of whipped cream.
I don't need to tell you how to whip cream, but I will.

Here's a Rosie Tip:  For maximum volume and best texture, chill the bowl and beaters first.  I set them in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

The cream will whip better when the bowl and beaters are chilled.  When cream is whipped, air bubbles are created.  If the cream is cold, the air bubbles are suspended by a network of tiny fat globules, which allows the cream to expand into a light, airy mass.  If the temperature is warm, the fat globules soften and collapse so the cream can't whip up as fully and it takes longer to reach the maximum, diminished volume.  This extra whipping time also makes the cream slightly grainy because the fat forms misshapen clumps rather than microscopic smooth globules that surround the air bubbles.  In other words, the rheological properties of whipped cream are affected by temperature which influences fat globule aggregation and the characteristics of air bubbles.  Bottom line:  Chill cream, bowl, and beaters.

Pour in a cup of heavy cream into the chilled bowl and start beating with the chilled beaters.  When you get a good froth, gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar.  Beat until you have a nice creamy texture and soft peaks, then beat in a teaspoon or more of vanilla extract.  Taste test.  

Rosie Note:  Do not overbeat.  Overbeating to stiff peaks will produce a slightly grainy texture and the cream can curdle and break up, quickly separating into butter and buttermilk.

 I happened to make a cheesecake a few days ago and had some of this glaze left over.  It's perfect for my tiramisu.
Rosie's Chocolate and Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream 
2 TB unsalted butter
1 12-oz. package bittersweet chocolate morsels.

Combine sugar, water, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat to dissolve sugar.  Cook over medium heat to a clear bubble and continue cooking until amber-colored.  You want to exercise an Amber-Alert here.  When it gets amber-colored, it's ready.  At this point, caramel can go downhill in a heartbeat.  Remove from heat and stir in the cream.  It will bubble and spit.  This is normal.  When it calms down, stir in the butter and the chocolate and let it melt.

To assemble the tiramisu:  I prefer individual servings here instead of a big trifle bowl full of cake and whipped cream.  Tear angel food cake into bite-sized pieces.  Fill a parfait glass or wine glass with angel food cake pieces and whipped cream, drizzling chocolate/caramel sauce throughout. Sprinkle on candied nuts.  Eat and refill.  Repeat.

This is delightful.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Butternut Squash And Pear Soup.

I have the perfect soup for this weather -
butternut squash and pear.
Both are in season.
For the squash, I go no farther than my backyard.
I have volunteer butternuts from last year's seeds
I tossed out onto my beds.
And volunteers are the best.
Natural selection and all that.
The pears I chose were Bartletts.
Naturally selected from the produce aisle at Food Lion.

Here's how to make it:
Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
1 butternut squash, baked and meat scooped out
2 pears, cored, peeled, and chopped
2-3 TB unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock

Optional accoutrements:
toasted walnuts
crystallized ginger
chives and chive flower
chopped pear
crème fraîche

To bake the squash, slice in half, oil both halves,
and bake, cutside down, at 400°, until tender, about one hour.
Let cool.
Remove seeds and stringy stuff.
Scoop out flesh.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat until foamy.
Add in onion, carrot, and celery
and sauté 3-4 minutes, until soft.
Add in squash, stirring.
Slowly add in stock.
Heat to simmer.
Cook 10-15 minutes.
Add in chopped pears and heat through.
Purée with immersion blender.
 Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

You could use a regular blender to purée with,
just do it in batches so you won't be wiping off the ceiling.

To serve, ladle into bowls and try some of the optional toppings.
Toasted walnuts would be nice.
If you want a spicy zing, try some minced crystallized ginger.
Chopped scallions or chives add a nice touch also.
And for that extra pizzazz,
go with a crème fraîche design on top.

And what is crème fraîche, you ask?
Crème fraîche is sour cream's uptown cousin.
And you can easily make it.

 Créme Fraîche
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TB buttermilk
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine all in a small bowl,
cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.
The next day, it will be nice and thick and ready to use.
Cover and refrigerate.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
Let the butter foam over medium heat.
Then add in the carrots and celery and onions.

Poke around for a while.

Add in the cooked butternut squash.

Pour in the vegetable stock and let it merrily simmer.

For a hint of sweetness, add in chopped pears.

Heat through.

Go marvel at a gulf fritillary butterfly on a purple zinnia.

Oh, where was I?
When the pears cook down a bit...

... and everything is nice and tender...

... have a go at it with an immersion blender.

Keep on keepin' on.

Until you have a nice, smooth purée.
Season to taste.

Ladle into bowls
and work your design magic with the crème fraîche.
I put the crème fraîche in a squirt bottle and started squirting.
Then I took a toothpick
and drew it through the soup to make designs.
Circle in the middle,
then concentric circles running outside.
Pull a toothpick through from center to outside at quarters
then from outside to center between the quarters.

 Oh wait!
What's that I hear???
Why it's Starbucks calling.
They want me as their new barista.
Sorry, Starbucks, but Rosie is busy.

Next I added in some toasted chopped walnuts
and chives from the garden.
With pretty chive flowers.

Maybe some chopped pears on top -
to hint at what's below.

Eat your heart out, Starbucks!