Archive for the Category ◊ Guest Recipe ◊

15 Nov 2010 Poached Pear Salad

My friend Louise made this wonderful Poached Pear Salad for Cookbook Club last weekend.  Louise, one of the best cooks in the world,  has been making this salad, to much acclaim, for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.  I am so glad Louise shared this with us!  You have your hands on tried-and-true family recipe! The Poached Pear Salad is ideal for any fancy meal. It would also be good for a light lunch when paired (peared! now there’s a joke in the making… Hmm, no light bulbs going off here…, obviously someone more talented than I needs to come up with it 🙂 ) when paired with a bowl of soup or a sandwich. The salad looks elegant, tastes great and is dead easy to throw together at the last minute (as longs as the pears have been made and chilled ahead of time).

The green salad surrounding the poached pear can be customized as  you wish.  Louise used a bag of mixed salad greens, including some of that bitter stuff, and a sprinkling of feta cheese (some pomegranate seeds might have been a  nice addition, too).  I am going to use mixed lettuces with a sprinkling of blue cheese, some sweet and spicy pecans and some dried cranberries.  My daughter is thinking about baby spinach, macadamia nuts and goat cheese.  What will you come up with?  Arugula, walnuts and orange bits?  Bibb lettuce and almonds? Let me know!

Three cheers for Poached Pear Salad!! Easy, customizable, good looking, and great tasting! I have a feeling this salad will become a staple in my, and your, dinner party and elegant lunch repertoire.

Poached Pear Salad

  • 6-8 Bosch Pears, with stems left on, peeled (Bosch pears are the ugly brown skinned pears.  I’d suggest using smaller pears so your guests aren’t too full after the salad to enjoy the main meal)
  • 2 cups Port, Shriaz or Zinfandel (The choice of wine will affect the taste of your pears.  Louise prefers a good port.  I liked the pears poached in Zinfandel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 slices orange
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 bag of salad greens
  • Cheese of choice, about 1 T. per plate (feta, blue, goat)
  • Extra toppings of choice, if desired: chopped nuts, candied nuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds…
  • In a large pan with a lid, combine wine, sugar, water, and star anise.  Turn heat to high and bring mixture just to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

    Add peeled whole pears-with stem intact-to hot liquid turning to coat well.

    Stir in orange slices

    Cover pan and simmer pears on low for 10 to 15 minutes, turning pears occasionally, until pears are tender, but still hold their shape.

    Discard star anise.  Remove pears to a bowl and set aside to cool.

    Turn up heat under the wine mixture, heat to boiling, and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.  Liquid should thicken and reduce to 1 ½ cups. (Pour liquid into measuring cup every once in awhile to measure progress).  When pears are cool, cut in half lengthwise, and carefully remove core.

    Pour reduced wine and the orange slices over halved pears.  Cover and chill for at least 4-6 hours, and up to two days.

    When ready to serve, cut pear into a fan and the bottom(see picture above), and keeping intact at the narrow top end.  Place pear in the middle of a salad plate and carefully spread out the fanned bottom part.

    Discard the orange slices. Reserve the wine syrup and pour into a serving bowl to pass at the table (will be extra dressing).

    Circle the fanned pear with a desired amount of salad greens.  Sprinkle greens and/or pear with approximately 1T. of the crumbled cheese of your choice and any desired “gilding the lily” toppings.

    Pass the reserved wine syrup at the table as a dressing (or serve with a light champagne vinaigrette).

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and I am so glad you were able to meet my good friend Louise.  Maybe one of these days she will share some more of her recipes with us!

    30 Oct 2010 Doggie Cupcakes

    No recipe with this post, I just wanted to brag on my daughter Abby.  Look at the cute “Pupcakes” she made for her nephew’s second birthday party!  Isn’t she talented?  She got her inspiration from Martha Stewart’s book, “Cupcakes”.  BTW, these cupcakes were not cheap.  By the time she bought the ingredients to make the cupcakes and to decorate the cupcakes, she had spent $50.  (I know because she charged it on my credit card.)  $50 divided by 24 cupcakes is just over $2 a cupcake!  (But there are enough leftover ingredients to make another batch or two.) They also took a lot of time, it took her and a friend about 4 hours, just to decorate the pupcakes.

    17 Oct 2010 Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Chicken with . . .

    . . .  New Potatoes and Seared Asparagus Spears!

    My friend John, the rugged he-man, Lake Superior Chef (of Asian Glazed Thigh fame), has submitted another recipe.   I am posting this now because it sounds like it’s just the thing for a Sunday supper.  Go now! Get a chicken! You can have this for dinner tonight!

    John says: “I adapted the chicken and potato recipe from Williams-Sonoma.  The recipe for the asparagus spears is my own.  I like this recipe for a number of reasons…, you only have to use two pans and one bowl, your kitchen smells wonderful when you’re done, you can drink chardonnay while you cook and the recipe is so easy.”

    Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

    with New Potatoes and Seared Asparagus Spears

    Ingredients:

    3 cloves garlic (diced)
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary (rough chop)
    1 roaster chicken (3 to 5 lbs)
    1 ½ lbs small red potatoes, quartered
    Olive oil
    Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
    Asparagus spears, washed and trimmed.

    Directions For Cooking the Chicken and Potatoes:

    Preheat oven to 400º.
    Pour a glass of cool (not cold) chardonnay to enjoy while you cook.
    Mix olive oil, garlic and rosemary in small bowl.
    Coat chicken with olive oil mixture, reserving about ¼ of the mixture for the potatoes.
    Place chicken in a large oven-proof fry pan, breast side up.  Tuck wings behind back, and tie the legs together.
    In another bowl, stir together potatoes and remaining olive oil mixture.
    Arrange the potatoes around the chicken, sprinkle both chicken and potatoes with salt and pepper, and transfer pan to oven.
    Roast until instant read thermometer (inserted into thickest part of the breast, away from bone) registers 160º F, about 60 to 70 minutes.
    Transfer chicken to carving board and cover loosely with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

    Directions for Roasting the Asparagus:

    Rinse asparagus and pat dry.
    Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.
    Heat ribbed skillet over high heat until “screaming hot”.
    Sear asparagus, turning frequently.
    Transfer skillet to oven (still hot from cooking the chicken) for five minutes.

    To Serve:

    Carve the chicken and serve with potatoes and asparagus.  Another  glass of chardonnay wouldn’t hurt either!

    Now doesn’t that sound good?  I think a slice of the Chocolate-Pumpkin cake–I just posted the recipe–would round off this meal quite nicely!

    23 Sep 2010 Asian Glazed Thighs

    My friend Anne, has a brother John.  He’s a rugged Man’s Man from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  He canoes.  He scuba dives.  He sports shark tattoos. He swims in Lake Superior  (In the winter.  I don’t know why. Something to do with Polar Bears.) John also cooks.  Often on a grill.  John offered to be my guest poster today with this recipe for Asian Glazed Thighs (Note to John, you might consider revising the recipe title…the mind does tend to wander a bit…)

    John  found this recipe in Parade Magazine a few years ago.  Damn.  He reads the newspaper, too.

    John said, when introducing this recipe to me, “Too often, very tasty Asian cooking is drowned in soy sauce.  Not so with this dish.  The orange flavor really comes through because you’re using both the zest and the juice of the orange. You’ll taste the soy sauce, but just a hint of it.”  Now, I did mention that this man swims in Lake Superior, right?  In fact, he took his scuba check out dives in Lake Superior in April.  He had to wade through the ice floating in the lake before submerging…makes you wonder a bit about his judgment, doesn’t it?  🙂  So…, just to be on the safe side,  I tested this recipe before I posted it.  YUMMMMmmm.  I knew, with the first stolen tester off the grill, that he had a GREAT recipe.  I was licking my fingers and moaning, impatiently waiting for the rest of the chicken to be done.

    Just to be on the double-safe side, I took the chicken to Yoga-Massage night to share with my friends and to get their feedback.  To keep their minds on the food, I didn’t mention the name of this dish.  I know them. If they knew they name of this dish they would have gone where we don’t want to go…

    We all loved the chicken.  I got multiple requests to post the recipe ASAP.  So here it is.

    Thanks, John.  If this recipe is well received, John has promised to share his Coffee and Soy Marinated Pork Chop recipe.  Double damn.  He likes coffee, too.

    Asian Glazed Thighs

    Eight boneless/skinless chicken thighs
    2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil)
    Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
    1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
    ¾ c fresh orange juice (juice from about 3 medium oranges)
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    3 tbsp soy sauce
    ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    ¼ c honey
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Sesame seeds (for garnish)

    1.       Rinse thighs and pat dry.

    2.       Combine rest of ingredients for marinade.  Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of the marinade, cover and refrigerate (you’ll be using this to baste the chicken later).  Toss the chicken in the rest of the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

    3. Remove chicken and basting marinade from fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

    5.       Grill  thighs, basting often, for about 15 minutes. (This is the fun part.  Toss the thighs on a very hot grill-hot enough to char the outside a little.  Then baste often and flip often.  John moves the thighs onto and off of the heat, assisted by a glass of wine, and finds he usually grills the meat for about 15 minutes.)

    6.       Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

    John says,  “The honey caramelizes very nicely on the grill. You can bake the thighs in the oven (350° for about 45 minutes), but why?  The grill adds a very nice smoky flavor.”  John  also grills some sweet peppers (coated in olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt) and often  serves over a bed of rice.  See his picture above.  Looks like he eats veggies, too…

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, especially you, John!

    09 Jun 2010 Guest Recipe: Mini Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes

    WHOOOHOOOOO!!!! My friend Louise is generously sharing this recipe with us. These little cupcakes are TO DIE FOR. Honestly. I want these for my birthday this year! Louise pulled these lovelies together with the help of Paula Deen, Ina Garten and a good dose of her own creativity.

    Louise writes “The recipe for these cupcakes is both very easy and very yummy! For over-the-top goodness, frost with the Peanut Butter Frosting–you can even crown them with chopped, salted peanuts for that salty, sweet thing!” Please, crown with chopped salted peanuts.

    My daughter Abby made these for the French exchange students in her dorm.  She not only got kissed,  on both cheeks, by both exchange students, but they also made her  famous.  Students stop her in the hall and ask for these cupcakes.  Dorm residents knock on her door and ask for these cupcakes.  Louise’s Mini Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes have defiantly been the highlight of her year at college so far <Sigh.  And to think I sent her there to STUDY. ..to graduate…with a degree…in Biology…in Forensic Genetics…>

    Mini Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes

    from Paula Deen

    1 (18 1/2-ounce) package chewy fudge brownie mix (I’ve used Duncan Hines and Ghirardelli, either was fine)
    24 miniature peanut butter cups
    Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe below
    Chopped, salted peanuts

    Cupcake Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini-cupcake pan with paper liners. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions for cake-like brownies. Fill the cups half full with brownie batter. Press 1/2 peanut butter cup into the batter in each muffin cup until the batter meets the top edge of the peanut butter cup. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until the cupcakes are set. When they can be handled safely, remove them from the muffin tins and let cool completely on wire racks.

    When cool, frost with Peanut Butter Frosting. Top frosted cupcakes with chopped, salted peanuts for extra yumminess.

    Peanut Butter Frosting

    from Ina Garten

    1 cup confectioner’s sugar
    1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Skippy)
    5 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ¾ tsp vanilla extract
    ¼ tsp kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
    1/3 cup heavy cream

    Frosting Directions

    Place the confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
    Frost cupcakes when cool, and top with chopped, salted peanuts.