Sunday, October 31, 2010

Late night Snack

So the other night Josh got home from music practice and all I could think was that I wanted (no, needed) a sweet treat. Now, normally in such instances we are prone to slum it, and a Wendy's frosty or some soft serve ice cream is the perfect fix. Not this night though. I was comfy and cozy in my sweats and had no desire to leave home. Not to mention I'd been eying the bowl of pears on my counter all evening and wondering how a pear crisp would taste. Enter Pear Crisp with Vanilla Brown Butter . The results just may have put an end to any future late night food slumming. oh, and it's not to bad heated up for breakfast the next morning either!

I made a few changes to the original recipe as found on Smitten Kitchen. The original requires you to refrigerate the topping for an hour and then allow to come back to room temperature before baking. I also replaced whole vanilla bean (which I did not have on hand) with vanilla extract. Mine still came out delicious (remember the drooling?), but I'm sure the extra steps will have equally, if not better results!


1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup almonds with skin
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1. Combine flour, almonds, brown sugar, and salt together in a food processor or blender until almonds are finely chopped. Add butter and mix until just blended; crumble and spread on the bottom of a 8x8 baking pan and place in freezer.

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 pound (about 6) pears, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons brandy

2. melt 1/2 stick butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla together over medium-low heat. Allow butter to brown and become fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

3. combine flour and sugar with a pinch of salt. Add pears and brandy and mix.

4. Toss browned butter with pear mixture. Spoon filling into 8x8 baking dish then top with crumbled topping. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool until warm and top with vanilla ice cream.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Savory Pumpkin Scones

I've never been someone who loved the color orange. In fact as I kid I distinctly remember thinking that kids who said their favorite color was orange were weird (boy, I must have been a snobby little kid!). I guess the tables have turned because orange has grown to become one of my favorite colors- especially this time of year. From the bright orange of pumpkins to the deep orange of changing leaves, or the reddish orange color of my mums (which, by the way it has taken four years, but I finally have kept my mums alive!) I just love the harvest look of the color orange. I guess I'm the weird kid now.
Along with decking my house out in all the orange I can find, I've been scouring recipe books and magazines for new fall recipes. Last month Better Homes and Gardens did a feature article with Nigella Lawson which included a recipe for pumpkin scones. However, don't be deceived into thinking of a sweet breakfast treat. These scones are savory (and in my opinion more like a biscuit) and the perfect accompaniment to a good soup!
oh, and by the way, they come out a beautiful shade of orange!

Pumpkin Scones

3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cup teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, Parmesan, melted butter, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Fold dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture, stirring until just combined into a dough.
3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat down until dough is 1 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a turned over drinking glass, cut out biscuits and place on a an ungreased baking sheet. Reform dough and repeat until all the dough is used.
4. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the biscuits with milk to glaze. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Cool slightly and eat with butter.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Favorite Cook-books and Pepper Crusted Steak

When Josh and I got married, one of my great-aunts (collectively we refer to my great-aunts as "The Aunts") gave us two cook books from the Best Recipe Classic collection, which are published by America's Test Kitchen. They are, hands down, my favorite cook books. What I love about America's Test Kitchen is that not only do they give you the best way to cook practically everything, but they also tell you why it is the best way. Maybe I was one of those kids who always wanted to know why, but I'll admit I really like knowing that it's better to boil your potatoes with the skin on when your making mashed potatoes (they retain more flavor), and seemingly insignificant things like that. I also like knowing these things without being the one trying 50 different ways to make mashed potatoes (although Josh would appreciate eating them).
All that to say, this recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, and is probably my most successful attempt at steak to date. My only caution is that once in the oven, the steak cooks up fast, so keep an eye on it to avoid over cooking!

pepper crusted steak

5 tablespoons black peppercorns, cracked
5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 -4 steaks (the original recipe is for filet mignon) 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, dried with paper towels

1. Heat the peppercorns and 5 tablespoons of oil in a small sauce pan over low heat until bubbles begin to appear. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. When the pepper mixture is at room temperature, stir in salt. Rub the steaks with this mixture, coating all sides of the steak with the peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap and press the peppercorns into the steak. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Heat a rimmed baking sheet in the center of the oven at 450 degrees.
4. After the steaks have sat for an hour, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet until it begins to smoke. Place the steaks in the oil and allow a dark crust to form by not moving the steak for 3-4 minutes. Turn the steaks over and repeat on the other side.

5. Transfer the steaks to the hot baking sheet and roast in the oven until the steaks reach an internal temperature of 125 degrees (medium rare) or 130 degrees (medium). This will take approximately 5 to 9 minutes.