Cranberry Pear Pie

November 26, 2009

Chef’s Notes: This is one of my must-haves for Thanksgiving. I don’t remember where I originally found the recipe but it’s been a favorite for several years. I usually make it with a lattice top crust but this year I tried a crumb topping.

Cranberry Pear Pie

Cranberry Pear Pie
Yields 8 slices

Pastry for single 9-inch pie

Filling
4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cubed (should yield about 4 cups)
2 C. fresh cranberries
1/2 C. maple syrup
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. cold water

Topping
1/2 C. flour
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 T. cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a pie pan with pastry; trim and flute edges. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine pears, cranberries, and maple syrup. Heat until gently boiling, stirring constantly, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until cranberries begin to pop. Combine cornstarch and water and stir into the simmering cranberry/pear mixture. Cook one minute more. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To prepare the crumb topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in walnuts.

Pour cooled filling into prepared pie shell and sprinkle with topping. Cover edges of crust loosely with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on wire rack.

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Elvis Muffins

November 21, 2009

Chef’s Notes: On Halloween, a friend and I were discussing candies we have known and loved. She mentioned a limited release treat that honored the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Elvis Reese’s Cups.

Elvis Reese's Cup

When trying to decide on a muffin for a late-Saturday-morning brunch, I remembered that conversation, and wondered if the same candy bar ingredient combo would work in a muffin. I googled, found this recipe, and discovered a yumlicious treat!

I made the recipe exactly as written, except that I divided it into half. I still had 12 muffins. Apparently the 12 muffins indicated in the original recipe refer to the monstrous 3000-calorie bakery-style muffins. I also used a cinnamon-sugar topping instead of putting cinnamon in the batter.

Elvis Muffins

Elvis Muffins

Elvis Muffins
Makes 12 (normal-sized) muffins

1 1/4 C. flour
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. mashed banana (about 2 very ripe bananas)
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. peanut butter
2 T. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 C. chocolate chips

Topping:
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper liners in muffin tin.

In a large bowl, put together, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt; combine.

In another mixing vessel combine mashed bananas, milk, peanut butter, egg, oil, and vanilla; mix well. Add this to the dry mixture previously prepared; mix just enough to combine. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. Combine the sugar and cinnamon for topping and sprinkle onto muffin batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


The envelope please…

November 15, 2009

As the host and judge of this month’s Paper Chef competition, I challenged people to create a dish using pasta, beetroot, chèvre…and peanut butter.

Five daring cooks participated in the month’s challenge. Everyone impressed me with the thought they put into their creations and with the stunningly creative results. So, how to choose?

After a great deal of deliberation, one contestant really seemed to stand out in my mind. The presentation of the dish was eye-catching and the idea was quite unconventional.

So…the envelope please. The winner of Paper Chef #46 is…
*drumroll*

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JENNY from I could even eat a baby deer! with Chèvre mousse with beetroot, deep fried pasta and peanut butter caramel.

Chèvre mousse? Deep fried pasta? And…yum!…peanut butter caramel. Very creative and it sounds delicious.

Congrats Jenny. I pass the Paper Chef judging baton to you.

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I didn’t create a dish for the challenge, but this was only due to a lack of time, not because I couldn’t come up any ideas. Some things I considered:

  1. Pasta shells filled with a beet/chèvre purée and a spicy peanut sauce
  2. Pasta salad – rotini pasta, a combo of pickled beets-corn relish-Pennsylvania Dutch Chow Chow (pickled assorted veggies), crumbled herb-flavored chèvre, and  peanut butter salad dressing
  3. Cheesecake – crust made from graham crackers and chow mein noodles, peanut butter/chèvre filling, with a topping of beet preserves
  4. This Kugel (noodle pudding) made with beet pasta , with peanut butter swirled in
  5. Beet pasta with a bechamel like this one (chèvre, Cheddar, parmigiano), topped with grilled chicken that has  marinated in peanut butter salad dressing, and asparagus spears (A rather crazy twist on the usual fettucine alfredo with chicken & broccoli)

I seriously think I might try #5 one day. The others…maybe not. 🙂


Paper Chef #46

November 4, 2009

As the winner of last month’s Paper Chef, the judging baton has passed to me. The Paper Chef is a challenge in which cooks are challenged to create a recipe using a list of ingredients that are selected by that month’s judge. Three of those ingredients are picked from a list provided by Paper Chef and the fourth ingredient is chosen by the judge.

The challenge begins today, Wednesday November 4 and must be submitted by Tuesday November 10 at midnight (your time).

For complete rules and submission guidelines, please visit Paper Chef.

So…put on your chef’s hat…arm yourself with your wooden spoon…and prepare to be challenged by these ingredients:

pasta

chèvre

beet-root
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And the fourth random ingredient:
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peanut-butter
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Impossible? No! Challenging? Yes! There are several variables possible in these ingredients, and I think it should be interesting because there’s not an “obvious” dish (that I know of) that could be made from these ingredients.

I’m very excited to see all the recipes created by those willing to take the challenge. GOOD LUCK!


Triple Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

November 3, 2009

Chef’s Notes: I took the ideas of several different recipes and devised my own, which resulted in these dessert-like muffins that are bursting with chocolate and have just a little tang of cranberry.

Triple Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

Triple Chocolate Cranberry Muffins

Triple Chocolate Cranberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 T. cocoa powder
3/4 C. cane sugar
1 cup milk
1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 C. dried cranberries
1 C. white chocolate chips
Semi-sweet chocolate chips, about 1/4 cup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through sugar). In a small mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients (milk through vanilla). Make a well in the dry ingredients, slowly add wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and white chocolate chips. Do not overmix,

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each liner about 3/4 full. Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips over muffins. Bake 20 minutes, or until set and springy. Cool on wire racks.