Ginger Pear Crisp

For whatever reason, my brother has been bringing home absurd amounts of fruit from his school cafeteria. One day we found ourselves with way more pears than we could eat before they went bad. Conveniently, an issue of Sunset Magazine came with a recipe for a unique pear crisp courtesy of Campanile chef Mark Peel. Ginger, raisins, marsala? I was intrigued.

Of course when I went to make it, I ended up with several substitutions (you'll see my many parenthetical notes in the recipe below). But I was happy with the crisp. Maybe a little sweet, but that could have been the fault of my changes and inexact measurements. Anyway, it was nothing a small scoop of tart yogurt couldn't fix.

Continue reading “Ginger Pear Crisp”

Chef Academy's Leo and Suzanne

Several weeks ago (just before I got a job and still had time to do these sorts of things on a Tuesday afternoon, let alone write about them in a timely fashion), I went to a cooking demonstration by two stars of Bravo's Chef Academy: Suzanne Winn and Leo Goodloe.

I meant to watch an episode or two before the demo, and ended up watching the whole series in three days or so. It's easy to become addicted to any reality show, but when the people you're watching are likable and deserving of the spotlight (Jersey Shore crew, I'm not talking about you), you don't even feel guilty about it.

Leo was focused and professional throughout the show. He rarely had anything bad to say about anyone, and though he was always at the head of the class, he wasn't cocky. Suzanne, love her, has a Real Housewives of Orange County look (because she's a mother in the real OC), but the woman didn't go that route. Instead, she enrolled in an intensive culinary program and subjected herself to some rigorous kitchen work. Ok, yeah, she got in trouble for wearing too much lip gloss and for meeting with a tailor in the middle of a lesson…but how much of that is orchestrated by producers anyway? She didn't seem like a ditz to me. She seemed smart and funny and incredibly charismatic. I really wanted this woman to do well.

And you know what? Leo and Suzanne made an even better impression in person. After the demo, I waited to talk to Suzanne, who was talking to a group of women already. “Come join the circle, sweetie,” she said, motioning me over. Then she hugged me and thanked me for coming. Leo was equally gracious and easy to talk to. Both were so encouraging and forthcoming with stories and advice for me.

The food didn't disappoint, either. Dark chocolate pots de cremes with rock-your-socks butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean whipped cream. French bread slices layered with goat cheese, freshly made tomato sauce and melted fontina. Either of which I could die happy after. (Some recipes from the demo are here.)

My point is, I don't want this to be the last I see of Leo or Suzanne. Give them a book, a TV show, a catering/party-planning company…I'd support any of it.

You can find Chef Academy reruns on Bravo, iTunes or here. Check out Suzanne's Meals in Heels demonstrations on YouTube.

buy a speech
And watch my favorite clip of Suzanne on Chef Academy here at the 6:08 mark.

765qwerty765

All-From-Scratch Chicken Pot Pie

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who goes a little more traditional after sharing his Fried Beer-Battered Pickles and Five Spice Squash Soup recipes.

This is one of my absolute favorite winter meals. The hot chicken and root-vegetable filling is hearty and warming on a snowy day. There are two ways to make this pot pie:  from scratch, or with store bought stock, pie crust, and a rotisserie chicken. The latter is certainly faster and easier, but the former tastes better, and leaves you with a few quarts of homemade chicken stock for the freezer.

I made this one from scratch, and it has been a hit every time I’ve served it.  Everyone is always amazed that there aren’t any herbs or spices besides the salt and pepper. I think that’s the homemade stock, chicken fat, and rich root vegetables coming through.

If you want to make this from scratch I would recommend either starting early in the day or preparing the filling a day or two ahead and keeping it in the fridge until ready to bake.
Continue reading “All-From-Scratch Chicken Pot Pie”

Moroccan Bread

Have you ever had something disappear into the abyss of the internet? That's what happened to this Moroccan bread recipe.

You'd think I'd be less likely to find a recipe on paper…especially since I'm known to scrawl information on magazine inserts or any scrap I can find…but there it was: the bare bones directions for Moroccan bread, unlabeled and in between notes from an interview I conducted and a page of rhymes (knead, read, seed, feed, proceed, decreed, agreed, ID'd, IV'd…vibe, bribe, subscribe, diatribe…).

So that's a little insight into who I am.

This bread, to get back to the point, is meant to be served with tagines or other saucy dishes so you can use it for mopping up all that flavor. I wish I had some tonight. My mom has some Moroccan chicken simmering away right now.

Alas, bread takes a little more forethought. You can think about making it with Saffron Chicken Tagine with Prunes, Tunisian Lamb Stew or Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken.

Continue reading “Moroccan Bread”

Five Spice Squash Soup

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who introduced himself last week with Fried Beer-Battered Pickles.

After seeing Brittany’s squash soup post, I decided to make one myself. I thought the distinctive flavor of five spice would go great with the sweetness of the squash. (Five spice is a Chinese blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechwan pepper and ground fennel seeds.) The five spice was wonderful with the squash, but the soup was a little sweet. I’ll definitely skip the roasting to cut down on the sweetness next time I make it. (The recipe below takes that into account.)

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a photographer, and was in a bit of a hurry to get this one on the table, so the picture doesn’t really do it justice. I also made some spicy shrimp to go on top, but the spoonful of crème fraiche, fresh chives, and pickled ginger I had on the leftovers complemented the flavors of the soup much better.
cheap rosetta stone software Continue reading “Five Spice Squash Soup”

Cranberry, Pecan and Dulce de Leche Tart


essay editing service reviews
People always seem to come up with a reason why they think they wouldn't like this tart. I don't like pecans. Dulce de leche is too sweet. Cranberries aren't my thing. But somehow, everything comes together in a way that just works. The cranberries and dulce de leche balance each other out, and the whole thing is so delicious the pecans probably won't even bother you…unless you're prone to anaphylactic shock upon contact with them.

Anyway, this is a dessert I've made several times since I saw cranberry caramel almond tartelettes on Smitten Kitchen years ago. I go to Argentina often so I always think of dulce de leche instead of caramel. And since my sister is allergic to almonds, I've started to use pecans instead. I also make one big tart instead of several smaller ones like Deb did.

What is amazing about this recipe besides the trifecta of nuts, cranberries and dulce de leche is the rich crust that tastes like a shortbread cookie. The dough comes from chef/owner of City Bakery, Mary Rubin, and it's…divine is the word that comes to mind, even though I'm not the type of person who normally says divine.

But this tart is, whether you follow the original City Bakery recipe or try my version. I'd say Valentine's Day would be a prime time to get one in the oven. It makes a nice holiday tart — I made it for Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve — but, hey, any day ending in Y is occasion enough.

Continue reading “Cranberry, Pecan and Dulce de Leche Tart”