Sunday, November 15

Kate's Honey-Glazed Roasted Pears

The other day, I received a wonderful package in the mail...
My very own copy of Kate Zuckerman's The Sweet Life (Desserts from Chanterelle).

This book is awesome, to put it lightly. So many books are written without telling me WHY I'm doing certain things(perhaps to increase my dependence on their recipes). This book tells me why I'm doing what I'm doing, and how to achieve the same result in other ways. The science behind baking.

It's all infinitely fascinating to me. So, if you guys are aware of any more quality cookbooks that have a good food science foundation, PLEASE, let me know. :)

Anyway, I've read this book from cover to cover at least 3 times since getting it (and individual recipes and anecdotes many more) and decided to start with this pear recipe.
Cheap to make, but my goodness it takes forever. (at least 2 hours in the oven...with you doing stuff every 15-20 minutes)

All of that aside? DELICIOUS.

Kate suggests making these while you're making something else (so that you're in the kitchen and more likely to remember to mess with them every 15 minutes), and I suggest that too, as long as you're good about dividing your attention.
I was making these pears, making a cake (a very...special cake...) and watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model.

It's kind of amazing I didn't burn something. :P

Now, I only made two of these pears, but I'll give you the full recipe she states (which is for 10 pears). I halved the other ingredients (just to make sure there would be enough caramel at the end). So even if you're only making 1 or 2, use the amount for about 5.

Basting, getting close to done

Yum yum!

Honey-Glazed Roasted Pears:
by Kate Zuckerman
1 lemon
10 ripe pears (I used bosc because those are my favorite, but others are fine too)
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of honey
2 1/2 cups of water

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Put the oven rack the highest it will go without smashing the pears against the top of the oven. (my top shelf is too high :( )
Line a roasting pan (I used a 8X8 pan for my two pears, they fit perfectly) with aluminum foil
Cut the zest off the lemon in long strips. Peel the pears (leave the stems on!) and slice off the bottom so they will stand in the pan. Put the pears in the pan, and add all of the ingredients. No need to mix stuff together, it'll all melt in the oven.

If you want, you can place the pan on a lined cookie sheet in case the liquid boils over.

Bake the pears until the honey and sugar have dissolved and the pears begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
Push the pears on their side and bake for 20 minutes. Flip them over and do the same.
If a knife inserted into the pears slides in easily, then stand the pears up and bake them for 15 minutes. If not, flip them over again for another 20 minutes.
Take the pears out and baste them with the liquid from the pan. Put them back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Repeat this for 45 minutes.
If the pears aren't nice and caramel-colored, then you can cook them for another 10-20 minutes.
The liquid should be a thick caramel by now. Baste the pears one last time, and set them on a plate or something to cool.
Once they're cool, remove the core from the bottom with a paring knife or a melon baller. (I didn't, because I'm lazy, but it's nicer to not have to eat around the seeds XD )
Reheat them in the oven prior to serving. (warm, not hot!)

Serve with the caramel sauce :)


Monday, November 9

Almost Healthy Pumpkin Muffins.

...but still not :P

I'm still trying to use up those cans of pumpkin, so here's my latest attempt.

In the middle of writing this, I realize I have no anecdotal story to accompany the recipe.

That is so sad. My life as of late has been studying and taking tests and not going to the gym even though it's a minute away. Walking. I think I should start going. Maybe next week XD

I'm pretty sure I'm getting sick because Virginia weather can't decide if it's summer, fall, or winter. Oh, Virginia.

And to top it all off, no one comments anymore! I know you lot are reading stop hiding. :P

SO, in order to facilitate discussion...What sort of things would you like to see me risk my girlish figure (har har) to make (and then consume) ?

Straight on.

A little artsier.

My FANCY set up. White paper, desk lamp, pizza box lid covered in store brand aluminum foil. I win. XD

Pumpkin Muffins:
2 cups of flour (to make these even healthier, you can sub 1 cup of whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour. )
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp Cinnamon,Ginger,&Nutmeg (in whatever proportions float your boat)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp molasses (or use brown sugar instead of the sugar and molasses)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of pumpkin
1 cup of applesauce (this is the almost healthy bit...this instead of butter or oil XD )
1/2 cup of milk

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
4 tbsp of cold, diced butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside
Mix together the applesauce, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
Once that's all fully together, add the pumpkin and milk.
Add in the dry ingredients, slowly until just incorporated. Don't overmix!

Put the sugar, flour, and butter (for the topping) in a bowl. Using just your finger tips, rub the sugar and flour into the butter until it's little and crumby. You could also just dump it all in a food processor (but I don't have one :( )

Fill the muffin tin cup-thingies (oh my vocabulary is amazing :P ) about 3/4 of the way (just enough to give them a dome when they bake, but not so much that they go EVERYWHERE).
Sprinkle the crumb topping onto each muffin.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test.

Enjoy! :)

(and comment :P )


Tuesday, November 3

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

About a year ago, I asked my father to buy me a couple cans of pumpkin.

He bought at least 10. (Overkill much, Dad?)

Here is my latest attempt to defeat The Pumpkin Menace.

These mini cheesecakes are awesome because they taste like pumpkin pie, but better, they're cheesecake without all the fuss (water bath and such), and they're easy to share.

I was going to make the crust with gingersnaps, but I didn't have any. And I'm broke :P
So I was going to settle for graham crackers. But I don't have any.
And then I eyed the giant bag of sugar cookies I made over the weekend. Success! However, that would be a pretty boring crust. So, I got the bright idea of chopping up some candied ginger, and adding in the spices that I would normally put into gingersnaps. I'm going to write up what I used, but you're welcome to use gingersnaps, graham crackers, Oreos, or anything you want :)

I took these over to a friend's place for a movie-party. (V for Vendetta, midnight on the 5th XD )
"You're going to be the death of me," moaned Ian as he unwrapped his third (possibly fourth) cheesecake. I'm going to take that as a ringing endorsement, and warn you to keep them away from your loved they'll probably ignore you in favor of these creamy treats ;)

melted whipped cream XD

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes:
(makes 1 dozen)

1 cup cookie crumbs
1 tsp finely diced candied ginger (or real ginger)
2 tbsp of any combination of the following spices:
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice
a pinch of pepper (oh yeah, good stuff)
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
Mix everything together.
Press about a tablespoon of the mixture into the tin.
Bake the crusts for about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool while preparing the filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

8oz room temperature cream cheese
2 eggs
2/3 cup of pumpkin. (you can go up to 3/4 of a cup if you like your pumpkin more intense...or even a full cup! It makes the cakes a liiiittle denser, but not enough to be detrimental)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp of the following spices, all together:
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger. (omit some, add others, or just use pumpkin pie's up to you :) ) (oh and you can cut the amount if that's too much for you, hehe)
1/2 cup of sugar (white sugar, or brown sugar)
2 tbsp of molasses or dark corn syrup IF you used white sugar.

Cream the cream cheese and sugar together.
Add in one egg at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated.
Add in vanilla (and molasses or corn syrup) and beat.
Then add in the pumpkin and the spices.

Spoon about 1-2 tbsp of the mixture onto each crust. Well, actually just add a little to each crust until you've used it all up.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, then chill in the fridge for at least a few hours.