Monday, November 29, 2010

Pear and Cranberry Pie

Thanksgiving is finally over!!!! Not "finally" because I do not enjoy it. "Finally", because we can go back to "normal eating"!!

We went to New Jersey this year and it was a food fest! We spent time with the family, went to a (terrible) Rutgers football game, did some shopping...Everything, company included, was excellent. And we ate...and ate...and ate!!

My small contribution to the menu was a dessert...a pear pie. On the Food TV show, Alton Brown had used a high sided metal pie dish and a pie bird...So i started my search for both items. The dish was relatively easy...Williams Sonoma, $14. The bird however...was another story!I looked online and found a few, but none would have arrived in time! I drove all over the Upper Cape...and made my last stop in this little shop in Centerville, Cape Cod Cookery. And there it was, right at the door!!! $12 something!

The bird allows the steam created by the fruit to escape, preventing a soggy crust. No bird???!! No problem, you can either make cuts in the crust or make a chimney at the center with a wide macaroni! But the bird looks good!

Pear and Cranberry Pie

Serves 8

8 oz butter (1/2 stick), cut into 1/2 -in pieces
1 Tbsp sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp cranberry juice
2 Tbsp white vinegar

9 - 10 pears, mixed varieties, peeled, cored and cut into 8th
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cranberry jam (or lingonberry...I even used pomegranate jam!)
1 Tbsp cranberry juice
3 Tbsp tapioca flour (in natural food store or the gluten free aisle of your supermarket)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Prepare the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the juice and vinegar and pulse until it forms a ball. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Prepare the filling:
In a bowl, mix the pears with the sugar, the cranberry juice, cranberry jam, tapioca flour and cardamom.

Assemble the pie:
Preheat the oven at 425F.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll one into a disc, about 1/8-in thick. Line the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the pie bird at the center of the pie and place the pears around it, piling them slightly higher around the bird.
Roll out the second disk of dough. Place it on top of the pears and the bird, pressing the pie bird though the dough. Press the edges together sealing the fruits in tight. Brush the top of the crust with milk and bake on the bottom rack of the even for about one hour.

Let cool for a few hours to let the juices settle.
Serve with vanilla whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sauteed Butternut Squash

I love, as fall arrives, the displays of squash at the stores! They are a real New England fare and the Native American made it an important part of their diet. They even buried winter squash along with their dead to provide nourishment during the final journey.
As for nourishment of the living, squash is very healthy... It is loaded with vitamins and beta-caroten, a powerful antioxidant. And you know what??? Children love it too!!!

Sauteed Butternut Squash

Serves 8

2 butternut squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper

Peel the butternut and seed. Cut into 3/4-inch squares.

Heat the oil and butter in a large saute pan, or Dutch oven. Add the Herbes de Provence.

Transfer squash to the pan and saute for about 5-7 minutes, on medium high heat.
 Cover, leaving a small opening and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for about 20 more minutes, until tender.
Serve as a side dish.


Spinach and Goat Cheese stuffed Leg of Lamb

That's a classic! All the right flavors together... and fairly easy to prepare.
We have been making this lamb at home for a long time and it is always the same pleasure when we get to the table. And the sauteed butternut squash was a perfect side!!!

Spinach and Goat Cheese stuffed Leg of Lamb

Serves 6

1 leg of lamb, butterflied
5 oz fresh spinach, or baby spinach
7 oz fresh goat cheese
4 cloves of garlic
A few branches of rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Open the butterflied leg of lamb and sprinkle with pepper.

Chop the spinach in large pieces. Combine in a bowl with the goat cheese and 2 garlic cloves. pureed.
Roll the lamb and secure it with twine.
Place a few rosemary branches at the bottom of a baking dish. Place the lamb on top.
Chop the remaining garlic and place in the dish, around the meat. Add some rosemary.

Roast in the oven at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400F for another 30 to 45 minutes (rare to well done).
Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with Sauteed Butternut Squash.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chicken Breasts stuffed with Brie and Apples

This is a nice recipe, different, quick and tasty!!! A change from the usual chicken!
The breasts are stuffed with Brie and Granny Smith apples, and served with a sage cream sauce. Try it!

Chicken Breasts stuffed with Brie and Apples

Serves 4

4 breasts of chicken, skinless and boneless
1 wedge of Brie ( about 1/3 lb), cold
2 Granny Smith  apples, cored and sliced (1 in long)
1 cup white wine
10 Sage leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cut an opening in the breast, to form a pocket.
Fill the pocket with  3 or 4 slices of cheese and 3 or 4 slices of apple. You may use twine to keep the pocket closed.

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the chicken in the pan and cook on medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side, until browned. Remove from the pan and place in an baking dish. Season with pepper and place 2 to 3 sage leaves on top. Cook at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, deglaze the chicken pan with the white wine. Add the remaining sage leaves (cut in half). Reduce for 5-7 minutes. Add the cream and reduce again until sauce has thickened. Let sit until ready to serve. Reheat on low heat.

When done, place one breast of chicken on each plate, top with the sauce and serve.

Sauteed mushrooms and sauteed spinach go well with it. You may also choose to serve it with a rice.