I had a great time on New Day Cleveland. The whole crew are so nice to work with. My segment was all about cooking with pears. That was an easy one for me. I love pears and cook with them often. I tried to have a nice balance of both sweet and savory dishes.
So for those of you that might have missed it- here is my latest appearance.
I really look forward to apple season. I enjoy eating plenty of them fresh, but I also like cooking with apples. I’ve made a lot of different cake rolls in the past, and decided to make a cake roll with apples this time. Good decision. This is a fun dessert and easier to make than you might think. I also added whole berry cranberry sauce. I made my own, but feel free to use canned if that is what you have. The filling is not terribly sweet. I like it that way, but you can add more sugar. You can serve it plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or with a scoop of ice cream. A drizzle of caramel sauce would be nice, too. The cake can also be served for breakfast or brunch.
Spiced Apple Cake Roll
4 eggs, room temp
2/3 c. sugar
¼ t. vanilla
¾ c. sifted cake flour*
1 t. cinnamon
¾ t. each baking powder and nutmeg
¼ t. each cloves and salt
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
2 lbs. apples, peeled and sliced thin- about 5 medium apples
1 c. whole berry cranberry sauce- homemade or canned**
Whipped cream, optional
Grease bottom of 15×10-inch jelly roll pan and line with wax paper. Grease wax paper. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla 5 minutes. Sift together flour with dry ingredients and fold into eggs. Spread in prepared pan and bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 13 minutes or until light golden. Meanwhile sprinkle a tea towel with the powdered sugar. Loosen hot cake from sides of pan and invert onto tea towel. Remove wax paper carefully and roll up cake from the narrow side. Cool. Meanwhile combine apples with cranberry sauce in saucepan and simmer until apples have softened, but still hold their shape. Stir occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Carefully unroll cake and spread with the apple mixture. Re-roll cake, discarding towel. Serve with dollops of whipped cream. Serves 8.
* To make your own cake flour just measure out a cup of all purpose flour- and remove 2 tablespoons for 1 cup of cake flour- or – remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I normally do the cornstarch thing with several cups of flour at a time so I have cake flour on hand when needed.
** For homemade cranberry sauce place 1 1/2 cups of cranberries in a saucepan and add a little orange juice or water- about 1/2 c.- and sugar to taste. Simmer until berries burst and mixture thickens. Yield- about 1 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce.
I had a request from a friend for more vegan baking recipes. Came up with these muffins and thought I would share. They came out moist and light. I also have a lot of applesauce that I canned, so always interested in new recipes using applesauce. I added both raisins and walnuts for more texture and flavor. You could omit them, or add different dried fruit. You can also sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top of the muffins before baking, if you like.
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
2 c. applesauce- I used homemade with cinnamon in it
1/2 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour Note: You can use all purpose, I used whole wheat pastry flour.
1 c. rolled oats
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. dried cranberries or raisins
1 c. chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners or grease lightly. Set aside. Combine applesauce with the oil and stir in sugar and vanilla. Add flour, oats, soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Stir to mix well. Stir in fruit and nuts. Spoon batter in to muffin cups, filling just over half-full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Makes 24.
I have to celebrate the first day of Autumn with a squash recipe. Winter squash season is here, and I could not be happier. I love the variety of squash (and pumpkin) at the markets this time of year. They are both beautiful and tasty. This dish is a saute of butternut squash with onions, garlic, carrots and finished off with black sesame seeds. I used butternut squash, but you could use any number of hard squashes, or even pumpkin. If you are looking for a different way to cook some of those squash- try this dish. I think you might be surprised at just how good it is.
Butternut Squash Sauté
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups cubed fresh butternut, acorn or Hubbard squash or pumpkin
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until the onions begin to brown. Stir in the squash, carrot, soy sauce, salt, and pepper; cook, covered, another 5 to 7 minutes, until squash is tender. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
I taught a class last night on cooking with leafy greens. We had dishes made with collards, kale, Swiss chard and broccoli rabe. I am always surprised at how many people have never tried broccoli rabe- also known as rapini. This versatile vegetable consists of stems, leaves and small florets, with a strong broccoli flavor.
I think perhaps the sometimes strong, even bitter flavor, might turn people away from trying it. I enjoy that bitterness. If you don’t, you can temper it by blanching the broccoli rabe. That’s what I did with this dish. I also paired the broccoli rabe with pasta and some cheese which also mellows out the flavor.
Broccoli Rabe with Pasta and Pecans
1 bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box uncooked pasta
½ c. pecans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Return the water to a boil, and stir in the pasta. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite. Drain well in a colander set in the sink. While the pasta is cooking, cook and stir the pecans in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set the nuts aside, add the olive oil, and reduce heat to low. Stir in the garlic, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broccoli rabe, and cook 3 minutes to reheat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then stir in the drained pasta and walnuts. Toss with Parmesan cheese before serving. Serves 4.
As tomato growing season draws to a close, I seem to enjoy each fresh tomato even more. The season is never long enough. Every one I harvest from now, until the first frost, is extra special. One of my favorite dishes made with fresh tomatoes, is this cream of tomato soup. I made it in a class recently, and people seemed to love it as much as I do. It is full of fresh tomato flavor.
I enjoy it served hot, but have been known to eat this soup cold, too. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes, but have also used my home canned tomatoes in a pinch. If you want a stronger tomato flavor- use a couple extra tomatoes.
Cream of Tomato Soup
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
Pinch of sugar, optional
3 whole cloves
1 small bay leaf
3 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 t. salt
3 c. milk
Peel and chop tomatoes. Place tomatoes in saucepan with onion, celery, sugar (if adding), cloves and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and cover, simmering 15 minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan then stir in flour and salt. Cook mixture until bubbly. Add milk and cook until thickened stirring constantly. Puree tomato mixture through strainer, food mill or in a blender or processor. Add to milk mixture and heat through. Serves 6.
I am celebrating the birthday of a dear friend this weekend and wanted a special cake for the occasion. I combined ripe pears with pecans and cinnamon sugar to create this moist and flavorful cake. I had both Bosc and Bartlett pears, but use whatever pears you have on had. They should be ripe, but still firm. The recipe says to have the pears peeled and sliced, and ready to go in the cake. I actually made the batter first, then prepped the fruit. Mostly because I was distracted and forgot. It worked out just fine. The upside was that the pears did not have a chance to discolor, and I didn’t have to put them in lemon water until ready to use.
The cake is fine served all on its own, but we will be having our cake with ice cream later tonight.
Pear and Pecan Cinnamon Cake
1 c. oil- I like to use olive oil
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. orange or lemon juice
3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
3-4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
½ c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
¾ c. pecan halves or pieces
Grease a 9×13 inch pan. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Combine oil with eggs, vanilla and juice until well blended. In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients and add to egg mixture. Beat together until batter is smooth. Batter will be thick. Combine the ½ cup sugar with the cinnamon. Set aside. Place ½ of batter in prepared pan. Arrange pear slices on batter and sprinkle on ½ of the cinnamon mixture. Pour on remaining batter and top with the pecans. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Bake 50- 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool before slicing. Serves 10-12.
I have a dear friend visiting from out of town. I wanted to make her a special dish for brunch today. I had some beautiful fresh pears and some tortillas, so I used them together. Since she likes all things almonds, I included them in the dish, too. I also added some Amaretto to the pears. Martha gave them two thumbs up. She would have said how much she liked them, but her mouth was full.
When she was able to speak, she said they reminded her of apple pie. In fact, she didn’t believe me at first, when I said they were pears. If you like the taste of homemade fruit pie, but don’t have the time to bake, these are a nice option. Because they are barely cooked, the pears retain some shape. In a pie, they tend to fall apart.
Since we had them for brunch, I left them plain, but these would make a great dessert topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Even a dusting of powdered sugar, would be nice. Simple and quite flavorful.
Amaretto Pear Blintzes with Candied Almonds
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas, I used whole wheat
2 oz. milk
2 T. butter
4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
½ c. brown sugar
2 T. butter
2 T. Amaretto
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla
Pinch of salt
¾ c. sliced almonds
½ c. sugar
¼ c. water
½ t. cinnamon
Place tortillas in shallow dish and drizzle the milk over them. Try to get some milk on each of the tortillas to soften them. While the tortillas are softening, prepare the filling. In medium skillet, combine pears with the rest of the filling ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Set aside. Combine almonds with the sugar, water and cinnamon in medium skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook until liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes. Pour almonds onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet or foil. Spread out and allow nuts to cool.
Place butter in skillet and start to heat up the pan. While pan is heating, divide pear filling among the 4 tortillas. Place filling along center of tortilla and fold up edges over, to cover the filling. Heat the tortillas, seam side down, in the pan until golden, turning to toast evenly on both sides. Remove from pan and place on serving plate. Top with some of the candied almonds. Serves 4.
I love the way duck tastes when served with pears. Duck, with its dark, rich meat really works well with all sorts of fruit. I’ve made sauces and glazes for duck from cherries, prunes, mangoes, peaches and of course, oranges. Since I had several very ripe pears, and a duck I was roasting, I thought I’d try them together. Oh yum!! I could see serving the ginger pear sauce with other meats, like pork or lamb or with chicken or turkey.
Ginger Pear Sauce
3-4 ripe pears
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. water
2 t. grated fresh ginger- or 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1 t. hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel, core and chop pears. Set in a saucepan with remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook, over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until pears start to soften. Makes 1½ -2 cups. Warm sauce when ready to serve.
To roast the duck: This was a locally grown duck so not as fatty as ducks I get at the grocery store. For the very fatty ducks you need to score the skin and trim off extra fat. If you don’t, the skin won’t get crispy and isn’t very appetizing. Still, I wanted a nice high heat to crisp up the skin. I placed it on a rack in a roasting pan. I did cut up an onion and a small orange and placed them in the cavity. Sprinkled generously with salt and pepper and placed the duck in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then I turned the heat down to 425 until the duck was done. In this case, it was a smallish duck and cooked in about 65 minutes. It is OK if the duck meat is a little pink. Kind of preferred a little pink by most, but cook it to your own comfort level. Let duck rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into serving pieces. Warm the pear sauce and serve with the duck.
I will confess, the first time I had a Greek salad, I didn’t like it very much. I was at a little restaurant, with friends, many years ago. The salad was so full of feta that the saltiness overwhelmed everything else. Don’t get me wrong, I like feta, but this salad was basically a bowl of feta with some lettuce hiding under it.
I had another Greek salad some years later, that was so much better. The right balance of veggies, cheese, olives and dressing. I am glad I gave it another try.
I have learned to love Greek salads since then and eat them often. There are so many variations out there. This is the recipe I use most of the time, although I do play around with it. It is especially nice to enjoy one this time of year with the fresh, local tomatoes.
8 c. mixed salad greens – I like Romaine and spinach
3-4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 roasted sweet pepper, seeded and diced*
2 c. sliced cucumber
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thin
1/2-3/4 c. sliced olives
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
2-3 cloves garlic
1 t. sea salt
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 -2/3 c. olive oil
In large bowl combine vegetables. In blender combine lemon juice with garlic, salt, oregano and pepper and blend until smooth. With machine running add oil in a slow steady stream until it becomes emulsified. Adjust seasonings. Toss with vegetables and top with olives and cheese before serving. Serves 4-6.
* Here is how to roast a pepper, in case you didn’t know.