Thursday, March 4, 2010

Poached Pear with Two Cheeses and Pomagranate Molasses

Can't decide between cheese and dessert? Why not have both!

I absolutely LOVE pears. It's funny, because when I was younger, I never cared for them. Hubby still doesn't, which is why I'm indulging in this while he's gone, hehe.

Poaching pears is a great way to have a healthy and yummy dessert, with minimal effort. All you do it peal and quarter your pears, then put them in a small pot or saucepan with some liquid (see below), sugar or honey, and I throw in a Cinnamon stick. Taste your poaching liquid and season it so that it's to your liking. I usually have some sort of combination of the following:

-Pomogranite Juice
-Balsamic Vinigar
-Apple Juice
-White or red wine, or bourbon or amaretto
- Lemon Juice
-Molasses (just a hint, a couple of drops, really)

Basically, you want to play around until you have the desired balance of tart and sweet flavors. My combination usually tend to be about 2 parts wine/alcohol, 2 parts pomegranate, 1 part each of lemon juice, balsamic, and honey, with a splash of molasses or even sambuca sometimes.

Combine everything in your pot/saucepan, bring to a gently simmer, and let it poach for about 5-8 minutes or until your pears are nice and soft. The great thing here is you can also do this ahead of time, in fact, the longer the pears sit in the poaching liquid, the better - they just soak up that wonderful syrup! When you are ready to have your dessert, take the pears out, set aside on a plate, and simmer the remaining liquid until it's a nice thick honey-like consistency.

Now at this point you have some different options. You can plate your pears, drizzle with the syrup, and top with some whipped cream, or toast some broken up biscotti cookies and nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios are all great here) and sprinkle on top, or even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. All are equally delicious! This time around, I didn't have any of the aforementioned delicacies, but did have 2 chunks of cheese that needed to be finished, so I sliced up my aged Gouda and Iberico, layered them in between the pears, and drizzled with the syrup, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper and some buckwheat honey.

So good! I really loved the combination of sweet pears and salty/savory cheese. And I love the idea of a cheese and dessert plate all at once. Definitely will make again! Only thing that I felt was missing was some color, but I didn't have anything on hand to garnish with - next time I think a really fine chiffonade of basil would really complement the sweet/savory taste and provide a nice pop of green color.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Asparagus with Poached Egg, Truffle Oil, and Shaved Pecorino

Another yummy lunch treat. Or brunch. Or an appetizer for dinner. Either way, really. All I know is it's simple and delicious and pretty healthy. What more could you ask for?

Just toss some asparagus with oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the over until tender for about 10-15min at 500F.

If you think that's too high, then you should check out this video on about roasting vegetables. The reason you need the oven to be so hot is that you want the veggies to caramelize and get deliciously crispy, and not all mushy and soggy. So in order to achieve that you should make sure you leave plenty of room on your baking sheet, and I also always pat my veggies dry before tossing with the olive oil. Kinda like when you are browning meat. Same idea. Pat dry, don't crown the pan, keep the heat up. Can't go wrong if you keep this in mind.

Now onto the poached egg. I LOVE poached eggs. Absolutely one of my favorite ways to eat an egg. I have one of these little nifty inserts that you just drop into a small skillet, then break your egg into one of the cups (I always oil mine, just in case,) and sprinkle with a little salt. Fill the pan with some water, bring to a gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook for maybe 2-3 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs poached. I just kind poke at the center with my finger and see how jiggly the yolk is. It should be kinda like jello... still jiggly, but not watery feeling. It will continue to firm up for a few seconds after you turn off the heat, so I always err on the side of too runny. But that's just me. :-) When you think it's done, carefully pull the egg out (I use a big flat spoon, or sometimes just my fingers,) plop it right on top of your asparagus, sprinkle with salt, pepper, a few drops of truffle oil (more on that later), grate some cheese on top, and dig in!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Roasted Baby Beets, with honey, black sea salt and chives

So hubby is gone this week on a business trip. And since I have all this time on my hands, I decided to start a food blog... which is really just a way for me to document my adventures in the kitchen. Food is so ephemeral - the satisfaction that results from hours in the kitchen lasts only moments. And despite our best efforts, my husband and I are both very quick eaters, unfortunately. Really trying to work on that one. Hmmm. So for now I will take pictures, so that after we polish off a meal in under 10 minutes, I at least have some evidence of it's existence other than the mountain of dishes in the sink.

I have all day today to spend in the kitchen (thanks to aforementioned business trip) without feeling guilty, so I will indulge in fiddling around with "dainty" food, as hubby calls it. Like salads, and roasted beets... not that he doesn't like veggies, it's just that he claims it doesn't fill him up. So I usually end up making more substantial dishes - which might fill him up but fills me out!

So I'm very excited to make all my light veggie-focused comfort food. Like these roasted baby beets. Which I think I might be in love with - I mean the color is just to die for, they almost look like little jewels, glistening on the plate in the crisp morning light of my kitchen. So pretty.

And they couldn't be easier to make - just wrap them up in some foil, pop in the oven and roast at 350 for about 45min or so. I just poke them with a toothpick every now and then to see when they are done to my liking. I know, these are not exactly the most precise directions - but it's so simple, really.

After they cool, just rub them with you fingers and you can usually get the outer skin to come right off - you don't even need a knife! You can serve them warm or let them cool in the fridge. They'll keep covered for up to a week.

I love to drizzle with some honey and season with black sea salt and frech chives. Maybe some goat cheese if I have on hand. So simple and lovely. I usually roast a whole bunch for the week and eat them for lunch.

I think tommorow I'll make a goat cheese, arugula and beet croquette. Do not worry, a vague recipe will follow ;-)
Posted by Picasa