I have decided to go back and rewrite some of my old recipes (Hopefully in these past 8 years I have learned to write recipes better.). Roasted pear sauce is a recipe I make every year so it is a perfect choice since this is my favorite and simplest way to make pear sauce (or apple for that matter). Please check out the notes below before making. There is also a recipe for Caramel Pear Sauce using the leftover juice. It is wonderful on pancakes, ice cream or fresh fruit!!
PS I have a rockin grain-free cake highlighting this sauce that I will be posting next week. Make sure to come check it out!
Roasted Pear Sauce
enough pears to fill a large baking pan w/ a lid (I used about a dozen) I like anjou
2 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans, cut in half
4 whole anise
2 large slices of candied ginger or fresh ginger, cut into wide strips
½ cup sugar (I use coconut sugar), see notes
1 cup water
Pre-heat oven 250°F
Do not peel or core the pears. I cut pears into 1/4, leaving seeds, skin and all. I only remove the stem. Fill pan two thirds of the way and tuck whole spices in/around the pears. Then top with more pears. As many that will fin in your baking pan. Sprinkle sugar on top and then water. Cover with a heavy lid or foil. Roast one hour. Pull the pan put of the oven.Let the pears sit, covered for one hour.
Strain pears into a large bowl. Set the juice aside for caramel pear sauce. Remove all the whole spices except the candied ginger ad one vanilla bean for the caramel sauce. The ginger gets soft and mushy like the pears, so it can be run through the food mill. Process the pears through a food mill. I fill glass canning jars with a 2" header at the top (so when the sauce expands while it freezes, you have room and the jar will not break). Store jars in freezer. Since the sauce has almost no sugar, I am not sure if it would can well.
Caramel Pear Sauce
usally makes about 1/2 cup
juice from the pear sauce
vanilla bean from the pear sauce, cut open and scrap out the inside, add that to the pear juice. Discard the pod.
1-2 TBL butter
Set juice in a heavy sauce pan. Boil juice over high heat until it reduces by two thirds. Keep an eye on it. The sauce should be thicker and look for it to start smelling caramelly. Pull off heat and add 1 TBL of butter. If you want the sauce more buttery, add another TBL. Fill one or two small jars. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Warm sauce berfore serving.
1. Ideal pears are ripe but NOT mushy. A bit firm is a good thing. I actually buy them hard and let them ripen, so I can pick the perfect time. I smell them. If they smell likes a pear then that is a good thing!
2. I have found every year, even though the use the same type??? of pears, some years they are sweeter, some years not. Some years they put out more juice, some years not. Since it is easier to add sugar than take it away, I go light handed. After I have cooked and ran the pears through the mill?? I taste it. This year’s batch really needed a bit more sugar and vanilla. So I threw the sauce in a big pot, gently heated it (did not boil it) add some more sugar and some vanilla extra. It was fine and not too sweet in the end.
3. Some years a add lemon peel too. Cut pieces about an inch wide. Try to only get the skin not the white pith. Tuck that in with the spices and throw them away after the pears have cooked.
4. Do not forget to keep the vanilla beans for the caramel sauce.
We have been busy harvesting our Italian prune plums. I LOVE these plums but really did not pay attention to them until moved to the island 23 years ago. The old tulip farm we lived on had a huge tree. Oh my goodness they were wonderful and perfect for cooking. I was on the island the other week and picked up some beautiful, artisan made heritage pork sausages. So I thought it would be fitting to create a recipe for these sausages using some of our prune plums. Now I used unripe plums because I liked the idea of a bit of tartness against the sweetness from the pork, cabbage and cream but you can use ripe plums too, just read my notes about them at the end of the recipe.
This is a very quick recipe about 15-20 minutes cooking. And to save yourself more time, cut up your onions/mushrooms/cabbage in the morning. I used a LOT of cabbage and only 3 sausage to make the meat go father (they were not cheap but oh so worth the money!) but you can use less cabbage or more meat. It does not matter the cooking time is the same. This has become a fall fav of mine. I hope it is for you too!
Plum and Cabbage Quick Braised Pork Sausages
3-4 sausages (I used three, sliced them up just before serving and mixed them in the cooked cabbage/plum mixture)
½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ large cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
Splash of dry white wine (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup (plus extra if needed) heavy cream
6 plums (Italian is best but any will work) cut into bite size pieces
Heat a large pan (that has a lid) on high heat. After a minute or so add a splosh of oil, then mushrooms and onions. Let onion brown a bit for a minute or two. Then add cabbage and cook 2 minutes with lid on pan. Deglaze pan with wine. Then add salt and pepper. Turn heat down to medium/high. Add cream, garlic and sausages. Cook 5 minutes. If using unripe plums add now, if using ripe plums see notes below. Turn sausages over and cook another 5-8 minutes. Check and see if sausage is cooked, if not cover a cook a few more minutes. If you feel like the sauce it to watery, take out sausage, turn heat up to high and boil a minute or two. Enjoy!
If you prefer using ripe plums, it is up to you of you want to add them the last 5 minutes or wait to the end. But cooking them too long could turn them to mush, so if it were me I would add them at the end.
I said I used unripe plums but not rock hard. You know when they look and smell good but are still firm, that is what you are looking for.
You can use less sausage as I did and just slice them up and add to cabbage before serving or serve whole sausages with cabbage/plum on the side.
Also if you want your sausage really crispy? After they have cooked, just brown them up in a small, hot pan and then add back to the cabbage.
Chloe got braces and this means she cannot eat my artisan bread, the crust to too much for her. So ... (I shutter to share this) I indulged her for a while and bought, (gross and cheap) squishy white bread. But indulgences (and hot summer weather) is over. For years I have been making Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day bread. I keep a big bucket of dough in the fridge and make a loaf of boule every other day. It is sooo easy, even a four year old can make it. But I have never made Buttermilk Sandwich Bread(in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day book, page 207) with this method and I have to say is was a big success. Also it is just as easy. I am not not going to post the recipe here because the author has not but check your library and see if they have the book. If you really cannot get your hands on the book, look around others have blogged it. So here are some notes and reasons why you should make your own sandwich bread!!
First off bread is expensive, especially is you are looking for organic!! It cost pennies to make a loaf bread. I like to use that money I saved to buy French cheese ;-)
If you need soft bread like I do for Chloe the buttermilk version really helps create a softer product.
Notes about buttermilk. Number one use whole fat buttermilk! It is the fat that gives you the softer dough. What if you do not have buttermilk on hand like I did not, you can use any of these: soured whole milk, yogurt (just thin it a bit with a TBL or so of water) or kiefer from yogurt or making cheese (mine is from making ricotta). I have not tried sour cream, it might or might not work (again thin it a bit with water). So the fat/acid combo is what you want for soft bread!
Like I said it takes like a minute to put together. 2 hours to rise, 30 seconds to shape and 30 minutes to bake. There are tons of tutorials on the subject but here is a great one for shaping the dough for a loaf pan.
Note, my favorite pan for making loaf bread is Norpro because I like the bumpy sides (instead of smooth) which allows little pockets of air to get in and makes it easier to remove the loaf from the pan.
If you have children, this is a great family project. Actually my daughters will start making this from now on because really the bread is for them.
Lastly once you master this dough. you can make a ton of things from it. I made some cinnamon rolls, amazing!! One dough on-hand=lots of options (and money saved)!!
Happy belated Tasha Tudor day! Yesterday was our Saturday and a bit busy, so we had an impromptu tea of biscuits and fruit. (One of the many great reasons to keep un-baked biscuits in the freezer, ready to go). Hubby was busy with 6 cords of wood, so he popped in all dusty and dirty but I told him Tasha would not mind. She liked a hard working man ;-) As always Tasha seems to be a part of our day to day!
In my attempt to eat low carb (trying to keep my blood glucose down) I am eating basically a paleo diet. Not that I chose a paleo diet, it just mostly suits my needs. I do eat a lot of raw and vegetarian (although vegetarian can be carby, all those beans and rice) but I can only go a few days without meat. Since we buy a whole animal, cows and pigs, we get a lot of ground meat. Which is fine. I like it, it is versatile. Burgers, meat patties and meatballs are served often in my house. I am always looking for a way to change it up a bit and these Moroccan burgers are a big hit. It seems like a lot of spice for only a pound of beef but that is the point. You want these really flavorful, so go heavy handed with the spices. Also play with what you like and what you have on-hand. Honestly, I do not even measure when I make this. I tried to give amounts reflective of how I measure in my mind. A good smoked paprika is a must. I use lots of turmeric and garlic because it is so healthy. My hands are so orange when I make these but it is worth it and a cheap way to bling up cheap food. Enjoy!!
Add all ingredients to a bowl and gently mix together. If you want to check the taste, take a small bit, fry in a pan and taste. Besides burgers, which we loved grilled, this makes great baked meatballs. Add one or two eggs, roll meatballs about the size of a walnut and bake 20-30 minutes at 350◦F
*Note, you will noticed there is no bread crumbs in the burger or meatballs. That is because it is not carb friendly but feel free to add it if you like. Yes, they are a bit firmer without the bread crumbs but for me, they are fine and a small sacrifice to pay for my health. If you want them moister and do not want to use bread crumbs, try 1/2 cup of grated zucchini. If you peel off the skin, you family will not even know it is there!!
Also I probably use more, like a generous TBL or tsp. because I do not measure. So really feel free to add a lot and see how you like it.
I confess even though I am 52, have had years of therapy and have moved on in a lot of ways from my childhood, negative thoughts and comments said to me as a child still plague me. It is fun, I find they creep up on me when I least expect it. Like I am having a great day, then ... boom, the smallest thing has me thinking, "you are so dumb" "you do not even try, if you would only apply yourself" "you are not going to amount to much". I get in a spiral of negative thoughts and I (or ask my hubby) have to talk myself out of them. I love the idea that my brain has rent and only good renters will reside there!!
Happy (102, if you were still with us!!) Birthday Julia! You were one of the most influential people in my life when it came to cooking. I will always remember Saturday afternoons, cooking with you and my mother. Happy memories!!
This is definitely a year of questions. Last year was too. I think it is a hard place to be, I like answers better than questions. Having said that I am trying to embrace now, embrace the question, not the answer!
We are still working on the kitchen and probably will be for another couple of years (we work slow and David has very little free time). The floor still needs to be pulled up, there is hard word under that gross linoleum. I would like to put in a farm sink and there is work to be done in the pantry but still all is looking good. I am happy. I think now when you come into the kitchen you get a real feel for what I am trying to convey. A victorian French kitchen!!
Nerina (my gas range) is a free standing stove, so there is blank space on both sides. I have a little storage table David build me on the other side of the range but David is going to make me a narrow rack to hold platters on this side. Since you walk in and see this bare stove, I wanted something to help dress up the space. This is my french corner for the summer. I change it out with whims. I do not have much display space in my kitchen, so I am enjoying this little table!!
Almost 6 months into this lifestyle change, there are certain things I still struggle with (like not wanting to exercise). I can feel overwhelmed, like I have no power, no self-control. It is like I keep bumping against the same wall over and over but I have to remind myself I do have the power. I just have to pick myself up, click my heels and use that power!!
Well if you do not like chocolate, than this post will probably do nothing for you. But since I cannot imagine anyone not liking chocolate, I will continue on :-) Granted you may not be a chocoholic like me. Red wine and chocolate have their own food group in my life. Since wine raises my blood sugar, I have had to imbibe lightly (which is probably a good thing) but dark chocolate has been my life raft on this journey.
As I posted before, the first 6 weeks of my diet I did not eat sugar but I ate dark, very dark 80-90% chocolate. I would have a square, which I would take tinyyyyy nibbles off when I thought I was going to break down like a small child (which I felt like a lot, especially those first 2 weeks coming off carbs and sugar). Luckily I already liked really dark chocolate. Which has very little sugar and is good for me, so as long as I do not eat the whole bar in one day.
My appreciation of chocolate is beyond a candy bars. Really started in my teens when my mother and I went on a day-long chocolate excursion. Can you imaging a whole day learning, tasting and cooking with chocolate? It was heaven and opened up a whole new world for me. The tasting showed me there is so much more to chocolate besides just sweetness. In the morning, we visited two chocolate makers in San Fransisco. Then had a lunch prepared with all dishes, savory and sweet, using chocolate. In the afternoon was a chocolate tasting. Starting with white ending with unsweetened. We tasted at lest 20 chocolates. Have you ever done a chocolate tasting? If not I encourage you to. It will open up your world, like it did mine. Chocolate, like wine, has many different characteristics. It can be fruity, peppery, coffee, herby, acidic or sweet. It is not until you start tasting them side by side can you really see the difference. Once you see the difference, you start to slow down and really enjoy that piece of chocolate. You notice the texture, how it melts and of course the different nuances of flavor. After all of you are going to eat chocolate you should really stop and savor it. Eat the best you can get your hands on. Look beyond those grocery store candy bars. Chocolate is sooo much more. Have a tasting party. It is fun and you will find how you and your friends all like different things. Here is a chocolate tasting sheet you can download.
I believe in the power of chocolate. Cocoa is good for your health. They have flavanoids, are full of antioxidant and high levels if magnesium..Cocoa beans contain phenylethylamine (PEA), an antidepressant that stimulates the body's adrenaline and dopamine levels for a dose of happy feelings. If you are eating modest amounts of dark chocolate, it should not raise your blood sugar. As I said in the beginning of the post chocolate has been my life raft on this low carb/sugar lifestyle change. And that is a life raft I can live with!!
PS, my all time fav chocolate for eating is Madacasse 80%. It is pricey and hard to come by but soo good. Dark cherries, slightly acidity and long finish. Amazing!!
Cocoa beans contain phenylethylamine (PEA), an antidepressant that stimulates the body's adrenaline and dopamine levels for a dose of happy feelings.