Pears


FIRST I want to thank Peggy for her pick this week. I needed a quick and tasty dessert and this one was just perfect. SECOND – thanks to Donna Hay for the quick sweet treat. SHE is the reason I keep puff pastry in the freezer. It is good for just about anything from desserts to pot pies to savory tidbits.

This is pear season and ours are just beginning to ripen. I picked one, just one, and it was plenty for three galettes.

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I made mine with apple.

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This is super simple to make. Cut your puff pastry into squares. Sprinkle on some ground almonds. Layer some thin pear slices. Brush the whole thing with melted butter and then just bake at 350 until the pastry turns golden brown. No measurements. Put as much or as little of the pears and almonds as you like. This dessert is all about YOU!!

The ‘recipe’, if you want to call it that, is on page 160 of Donna’s off the shelf. I bet the other members of Wednesdays with Donna Hay liked this one, too.

Third Monday in May.

The end result – meeting a new foodie and cooking something or things from their collection of good things. I have found over the years that cooking just one thing is not a good way to learn about what makes a person tick. Or in the case of my ‘assignment’ this month – people. This month I was matched with Feast on the Cheap which is run by Mother and Daughter Duo Mary Ann and Mariel. Mary Ann is caterer and Mariel is writer with extraordinary culinary skills learned at her mother’s side. Between the two of them there is an awesome collection of great recipes.Not only that – the cost of every recipe is laid out for you with the ingredients. Thus the name “FEAST ON THE CHEAP”!! It was great to see how much each dish would cost.

I usually make three different treats. Usually a side and an entree and maybe a sweet treat. But it seems everything I went looking for something I was in need of something sweet. So here are two desserts – unusual for me – and a nice little quinoa dish.

I had a quart jar of pears in the pantry. We have a couple of trees so I put up pears every year. Finding this…

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was perfect. It is easy to make and yummy with the Maple Brown Butter Syrup and Pecans on top. Merial called for walnuts but we aren’t big fans and I always have lots of pecans in the freezer. Another change I made – I subbed out 1/2 of the AP flour for Whole Wheat. This is a grown up {what we used to call} Poke Cake. After the cake is cooked and cooled a bit holes are poked all over which lets the lovely syrup soak into the cake. Oh, Yeah!! Since I used my canned pears I skipped the “boil the pears, cinnamon, and water” part and just heated the pears and their juice with the cinnamon (and a little extra). Make this cake!!

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The next time I wandered through the site I found another sweet treat and since I was completely out of cake I deemed it absolutely necessary to make another. This time…

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Our garden yielded a lot of butternut last year. We could not eat all of them or give all of them away. There is just so much butternut one can eat. So I had cooked up quite a few, scooped out the good part, and froze packages of butternut squash. Lucky me to have found this cake, also from Merial.

This is supposed to be a quick bread but I changed it up just a tad and made ‘brownies’ with them. I poured the batter into a 11″ x 7″ pan and baked them for about 24 minutes. Merial made a Ginger Apple Butter for her bread but I chose not to use a ‘frosting’. But I did use some Sweet Potato Butter on some and they were wonderful!! Slicing these was a cinch since I had Mom’s special brownie pan (she loved gadgets like I do)

P1060546 PRESTO!! 18 perfect snacks!!

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Okay, I just couldn’t make another sweet treat. I HAD to go along another path.
For Lunch:

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Quinoa Salad with Sweet Bell Peppers, Dried Cranberries and Turkey Bacon

    1 cup organic quinoa
    2 cups water or chicken/vegetable stock
    ½ Teaspoon salt
    1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
    1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
    ¾ cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped –
    ¾ cup dried cranberries
    4 scallions (green onions), white and green parts thinly sliced
    5 ozs. Montrachet or plain goat cheese (NOT Feta)
    ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled

    For the dressing:
    ¼ cup cider vinegar
    1 Teaspoon Turmeric or dry mustard
    1 Teaspoon Cumin
    3 Teaspoons honey
    ¾ cup olive oil
    salt and pepper

If not using organic quinoa, rinse in a fine mesh strainer under cold, running water.

In a 1½ quart lidded saucepan, combine the quinoa, salt, and water or stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff the grain with a fork and set aside. Allow to cool to about room temperature.

In the mean time, prepare the remaining ingredients and dressing. Set the dressing aside.

Toss the peppers, cheese, nuts, cranberries, cucumber, onions, cilantro, and crumbled bacon with the quinoa. Season the Pilaf with salt and pepper. Add the dressing if serving all at once, combining well.

This was definitely a hit with me. The sweet cranberries and pecans mixed with the sweet pepper and green onions was a nice contrast. The tangy sweet dressing brought it all together. I made 1/2 of the recipe and it was plenty for two light lunches (with cake!). And so colorful which means lots of good things in the dish that are good for you.

So many recipes, so little time. I did make the Whole Wheat Parmesan Drop Biscuits. I couldn’t pass those up. Now I want to go back and try

And that’s just my short list.

Visit with Mary Ann and Merial – you WON”T be sorry!!

And visit the rest of the Secret Recipe Club Members and see what they cooked/baked this month.

There is just something about Mark BIttman’s recipes/dishes that keeps calling me back. I know you know the feeling. You find a chef/cook/baker you really like and then you just want to keep making their goodies. I am that way with Madjur Jaffrey, Donna Hay, and Mark Bittman, among others..

So when it came time to do another potluck for I heart Cooking Clubs I went with Bittman – again.

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    8 ripe pears peeled, cored, and roughly chopped into smallish pieces
    1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    8 – 10 sheets whole-wheat phyllo dough, thawed
    4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    Powdered sugar for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Set the phyllo on your work surface and cover with a piece of plastic and a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Remove one sheet and put it in front of you, brush it with some butter and fold in 1/2 length wise.

Put about 1/8 of the pear mixture at one end of the phyllo strip and begin folding the filled section of the phyllo to form triangles back and forth along the length of the strip, like folding a flag. Keep folding the triangle back and forth until you reach the end of the sheet.
Transfer the turnover to the prepared baking sheet, seam side down, and brush it with a little more butter. Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets and apple mixture. You should have 8 turnovers.

Bake the turnovers until deeply golden and crisp (it’s okay if they ooze a little juice), 25 to 35 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar or


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    cinnamon sugar.

These were quick, crispy, flaky, tasty and the perfect light dessert. They are on page 565 of Bittman’s The Food Matters Cook book

For the other Pot Luck picks visit us over at IHCC

Back on November 8, 2008, TWD members made Rice Pudding. I was not one of them because at the time I. Could. Not. Find. Arborio rice. What! What is that? Was the response I got here in Podunk, USA. SHEESH!!! NOW it is everywhere. And I’ve used it quite a bit since I found it, but never did get around to making the Rice Pudding. Have now!!!

And it came out perfectly (I had tried it before and it was a miserable failure.) I made 1/2 of the recipe which gave me two nice helpings. One vanilla and one chocolate. B liked the chocolate and I prefered the vanilla so we were both happy. It is not the most photogenic dessert, at least not the chocolate….

Isabelle chose the recipe that week and you can find the recipe on her blog. It is also on page 412 of BFMHTY.

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November 29, 2011 Normandy Tarts appeared in TWD kitchens.

I made about 1/3 of the filling recipe, used pears instead of apples and ended up with a 4″ mini tart. The pears were at B’s request. Good little tart chosen by my friend Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. It was her second time to host and her Tart is Gorgeous!! You can also find the recipe in BFMHTY on page 304.

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I did skip one recipe for March back when – Chocolate Pots de Creme. {March 1, 2011}

We had made the Caramel Pots de Creme in May of 2011 and they worked out well so I wasn’t worried about the chocolate. 1/2 of recipe resulted in 4 4″ ramekins of chocolate delight. Thank you Christine of Cats in the Kitchen. LOVED these. Recipe is on her blog and on page 390 of Dorie’s book.

That’s all. I posted the Far Breton {1 November 2011} in September. I still have’t made the Chestnut Cake. Still no chestnuts to be found except in large portions and I am only making mini cakes these days since it is just the two of us. MAYBE by the end of the year I will get it made.

I missed a lot of December picks – six to be exact. I will be busy!!

Think back to January 6, 2009. Do you know what was baking in your oven?
If you were a member of TWD that year, you had THIS lovely tart in there.

    French Pear Tart

This tart was special because Dorie chose it for the group to bake. And hers is beautiful (DUH!!)
The tart calls for one of Dorie’s crusts – either the Sweet Tart or the Sweet Tart with Nuts. I had some shortbread crust left so I used that. It did add extra sweetness but just made the tart even better. The pear halves are sliced thinly and fanned out over the almond cream.

When out of the oven you can either brush with an apple jelly glaze, or, as I did, dust with powdered sugar.

The recipe is on Dorie’s Site so go there. This is so simple to put together you will want to make it EVERY nite!!!

I’m catching up on the TWD treats I missed before joining so you will be seeing still more of Dorie’s treats over the next few weeks.

…for the last couple of days it has been in the upper 80s outside and FALL seems far far away.

But this pie, which contains butternut squash, pears, and walnuts as well as cinnamon and nutmeg, is a reminder that FALL is a wonderful season for baking.

    DEPTHS OF FALL BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE

The full recipe gave me enough filling for 3 minis and 1 7″ pie. All with a double crust.

I dusted the larger pie with a little Turbinado sugar and the others with granulated sugar. Nothing like a nice sweet crust on a pie that isn’t that sweet.


I had some steamed butternut squash from when I made Butternut Squash Bread and Butternut Squash Soup so instead of cooking more I used it. And I found out there are NO pears in the local stores so I had to use canned pear halves. (Not an ideal situation!) The ingredients include dried fruit so I threw in a handful of dried Cherries.

I liked the tartness of the cherries against the ‘semi’ sweetness of the squash and pears.

But to be truthful I haven’t decided if I like the pie altogether. Guess I will have to have another piece, just for research purposes. Maybe with some of Dorie’s nilla ice cream. Just in case it needs it. Just in case.

We had a choice of Pie or Mini-Madelines this week for TWD. I wanted to make the Mads, sorry Di, but I still don’t have a pan. One day!!

So I made pie, which was Valerie’s pick for this week. You need to see her PIE it is gorgeous!!!!

AND you need to visit the other members of TWD and see their pies and Madelines.

We have two pear trees in the back ‘yard’. One is a Bartlette and one is a Kieffer. The Bartlette is an eating pear. Sweet and soft. The Kieffer is more of a cooking pear. Firm and sweet. I thought the two trees had quit bearing, but The Hubs told me there were still plenty of Kieffers on the tree. (That was good because I thought I was going to have to make either an Apple torte or a small pear one.) Neither of them look like the pears you see in the grocery store.

The ones in the middle are nice, ripe Kieffers (from the tree). The outside ones are Bosch (from the store). Big difference. In shape and in taste. With the Kieffers in hand I set out to make this week’s TWD Pick:


    Fold Over Pear Torte.

Thank you so much, Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen for a great fall sweet.

The torte is similar to a rustic galette except instead of being free formed it is baked in a spring form pan. That means, of course, that you can put TONS more fruit in it plus a simple custard. Pears, walnuts, golden raisins, and some dried cranberries for a little color.

The hardest part was wrestling the dough into the springform. I had to patch it in a couple of places, but it all came together and formed a beautiful crust.

I have to tell you – it was DELICIOUS!! Family was over for supper and this was dessert. It was a hit with everyone.

Simple Vanilla ice cream on top gave us a perfect ending to a perfect meal (I can say that since The Hubs had fixed his prize winning BBQ’d chicken.)

This torte was part of a TwitterBake this weekend. Several of us baked it together – virtually. Since I got started a little later than the others I picked up on their tips. so major thanks to Di, Kayte, Nancy, Tracey, and Marthe (who had actually made it a few days before) for making it a fun ‘assignment’.

Visit the other TWD Bakers and see their ‘take’ on this torte. I bet you find some amazing variations. The recipe will be on Cakelaw’s page or in Dorie’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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