Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake

Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake
Servings: 6 to 8
Adapted from Nigella Larson

1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp.) butter, softened
2 (14-ounce) cans pear halves, in juice
3/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease an 8-inch square ovenproof dish with cooking spray.

Drain the pears and arrange them on the base of the prepared dish. Put all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a batter with a soft dropping consistency.

Spread the brown batter over the pears, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 or 10 minutes and then cut into slabs.

NOTES: This is such a great dessert. Pantry staples come together really quickly to make something surprising and delicious. We serve this with ice cream. YUM!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bourbon-Molasses Pecan Pie

Bourbon-Molasses Pecan Pie
Servings: 8 to 10 slices

1 unbaked Pillsbury pie crust
4 large eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1 c. molasses
3 Tbsp. bourbon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 c. pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Unroll pie crust and press into a 9-inch pie dish. Pinch edges so they're all pretty-like.

For the filling, in a large bowl, stir together eggs, molasses, sugar, bourbon, butter, vanilla and salt until combined. Reserve about 15 pecan halves, and spread the rest evenly in the bottom of the pie dish. Pour filling over the pecans. Arrange the reserved pecans in a decorative pattern on the top of the pie.

Using aluminum foil strips, cover the edge of the pie shell so the crust that's exposed won't burn before the pie is done.

Place pie on center rack of oven, with a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below to catch any filling that bubbles over. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, removing foil strips after about 30 minutes, until firm around the edges and slightly loose in the center. Cool, then serve.

NOTES: An incredibly easy, delicious take on traditional pecan pie without the corn syrup. Molasses gives the pie a smokey sweetness that's more complex and interesting than your average pie. Kicked up for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Medjool Dates, Olives and Rosemary

Roasted Cauliflower with Medjool Dates, Olives and Rosemary
Servings: 4

1 medium (4-5″ in diameter) head of cauliflower, tough stems/leaves removed & cut into florets
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
10 Medjool dates, pits removed & roughly chopped
12-15 Castelvetrano olives – pitted and roughly chopped
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary – leaves removed from the stems then roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large roasting pan or baking sheet, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and the fresh ground black pepper. Once the oven comes up to temperature, roast the cauliflower for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven) until tender with some caramelized brown spots. You’re not looking for char – just nice touches of golden brown.

About 2 minutes before you’re going to pull the cauliflower from the oven, heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Allow to start to bubble and brown ever so slightly. Throw in the chopped rosemary, dates and olives and saute until heated through – you don’t want the rosemary to get black, though. Pull the cauliflower from the oven. You can either drizzle the butter/date/olive mixture over the cauliflower in the roasting pan and toss….or you can put the cauliflower in the butter mixture if your saute pan is big enough. Either will work. Taste a tiny floret & season with salt and pepper accordingly. Serve immediately.

NOTES: We haven't tried this recipe yet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moroccan Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon

Moroccan Chicken Breasts with Olives and Lemon
Servings: 4
From Cook's Illustrated

1 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 strips lemon zest(each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch) - use a vegetable peeler
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
5 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts(8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons (about 2 cups)
1 c. Greek cracked green olives, pitted and halved
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 strip lemon zest; combine with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

Season both sides of chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken until lightly golden, about 2 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken and brown on second side, about 2 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate.

Add onion and 2 remaining lemon zest strips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits.

Add carrots to pot and arrange chicken on top of carrots. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

Transfer chicken to plate or bowl and tent with foil. Add olives to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and lemon juice; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

NOTES: My best culinary discovery of Fall 2011 was the use of olives as ingredients. So complex and flavorful, and they add a briny saltiness to food such that they can sometimes be used in place of salt. Pair this dish with Couscous Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds.