Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spiced Pear Butter

6 pounds pears, (about 16-20 large pears-ripe)
3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons whole mulling spices
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods
3 cups sugar

Trim off the stem and blossom ends of the pears- cutting off as little of the pear as possible. Cut the pears into large chunks, and place in a large dutch oven with the apple juice mulling spices, ginger, and cardamom.

Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the pears are soft and tender.

Using a chinois food mill or a sieve, press the pear mixture through the sieve- liquid included. Discard the seeds, spice bits and bits of peel remaining.

Pour strained mixture back into the dutch oven. Add 3 cups of sugar and stir well to combine. Return to a boil and cooked, uncovered over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
The mixture will thicken and mound up on a spoon when ready- this could take as little as 45 minutes or as much as 3 hours, depending on the water content of your pears. Just keep an eye on it and stir often.

Once thickened, quickly pour hot mixture into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and cover right away with metal lids that have been softened in hot water. Screw on jar bands.

Process in a boiling water bath at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes.

Makes about 4 cups of pear butter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peach or Pear Chutney

from the Ball Blue Book

Yield: About 7 pints

4 quarts finely chopped, peeled, pitted peaches or pears (about 20 medium)
2 to 3 cups brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1/4 cup mustard seed
2 tablespoons ginger
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
5 cups vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Simmer until thick. (This could take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.) Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot chutney into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Recipe variation: For a milder chutney, remove seeds from hot pepper.
Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from being burned.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oreo Cheesecake

1 package chocolate graham crackers, crushed
2/3 cup margarine, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

3 packages (8 ozs) Neufchatel cheese
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups crushed Oreos (about 1/2 a package)

Hot fudge sauce
1 cup crushed Oreos
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff stirred with 2 tablespoons milk to drizzling consistency

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
In a small bowl, combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of a springform pan. (I used a 10-inch springform pan.) Set aside.

Using a hand mixer, beat together Neufchatel cheese and sugar until well combined and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in sour cream and vanilla. Gently fold in the Oreo crumbs and pour the cheese mixture onto the crust. Smooth the top evenly.

Bake in a 325ºF oven for 45 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake puff slightly and the center still jiggles slightly when shaken. Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool completely.

Once cool, cover with foil and place in the refrigerator overnight- this is important, don't skip the overnight refrigeration.

A few hours before serving, run a sharp knife around the edges to release the cheesecake from the pan. Top the cheesecake with the hot fudge sauce, followed by the remaining Oreo cookie crumbs, followed by the marshmallow drizzle. The topping is all optional, but really makes for a stunning presentation.

Makes about 16 servings when made in a 10 inch pan.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Crispy Baked Pollock

1 1/2 pounds pollock fillets
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup panko
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
pinch of sea salt
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a shallow dish, combine egg and milk, beat well. In separate shallow dish, combine cornflake crumbs, panko, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, lemon pepper, and sea salt.

Take the fillets, one at a time, and first dip them in the egg wash, shake the excess off, and then dredge in the crumb mixture. Coat both sides of the fish and place on your baking sheet. Repeat until you've used all the fillets.

Spray the fillets lightly with cooking spray and pop into the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Apple Dip

1 8-oz block of Neufchatel Cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar

Combine everything in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer on low speed until well-combined. Allow to sit for a few minutes for the sugar to incorporate into the cream cheese. Serve with apple slices or other fruit pieces for dipping.

Keeps covered in the fridge for several days.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chicken Tagine with Almonds and Raisins

by Moira Hodgson
from The New York Times Chicken Cookbook

1 3-pound chicken, cut up
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch saffron
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/2 cup whole peeled almonds
1/2 cup raisins

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Put them in a large heavy pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion, carrots and garlic

Sprinkle on the saffron, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. Pour in the water, cover and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat.

Add the almonds and raisins. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Keep an eye on the chicken during this stage and add more water if necessary.

Yield: 4 Servings

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

From Baking From My Home To Yours
by Dorie Greenspan

For the Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cups grated carrots (About 9 carrots; I grate them in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs

For the Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. pure lemon extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Getting Ready - Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter three 9×2 inch round cakes pans, flour the insides and tap out the excess. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To Make the Cake - Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean; the cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and un-mold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To Make the Frosting - Working with the stand mixer, preferably fitted with paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you would like coconut in the filling ,scoop out about half of the frosting and stir in the coconut into this portion.

To Assemble the Cake - Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer. Use an offset cake spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with second layer, this time placing the cake top side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.