Roasted Blue Pear Salad

The new year is starting off to be the most hectic yet. Happily I can say that I am experiencing an embarrassment of riches.

I have now commenced my final semester of studies, which means I am feverishly working on my Master’s Thesis. I had been dreading this project, but now that I’ve sunk my teeth into it I am finding it to be extremely soul satisfying. As I work through the research I can feel the hours, months and years of my education coming to fruition. It’s like moving to a foreign land and suddenly you realize that you are a fluent speaker and you can get around with ease. I KNOW this stuff! Even better is I have come to appreciate that the mind- my mind– has the capacity to learn and expand in ways I never thought possible.

At the beginning of the year I also started my field work with Toby Amidor, RD. She is a practicing dietitian who also writes for The TV Food Network’s Healthy Eating Blog, Sear’s Fit Studio, and countless other publications. She is monster in the amount that she juggles, which she does with incredible grace and intensity. I met Toby back in December at a lecture that she was giving on social media for dietitians. I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her, and I am delighted that she agreed to take me on.

With Toby I am learning to be a more technical writer, and she is introducing me to the world of the entrepreneurial dietitian. It’s been a staggering departure from the writing I do here and I am loving it.

I am also gearing up for The Cookbook Conference next week at Hotel Roger Smith. I attended last year and was blown away. The venue is intimate, which enabled me to meet and chat with some of the heavy hitters in the cookbook world. It was there that I also met some of my dearest foodie friends to date, Gail Dosik, Maggie Battista, Cathy Wheelbarrow– to name just a few.

So, my dear ones, I haven’t had the time to develop new recipes at all. Most of my day is spent chained to my desk digging into pages and pages of research analysis. I haven’t had much time to shop either, so for fun I decided to give myself a little challenge and not shop at all this week.

The goal was to see if I could prepare a week’s worth of elegant, albeit simple, meals with just the things I had on hand. Surprisingly this has been a fun little experiment and not nearly as tough as I thought it would be. This may however be more of a statement to my stocking treasures {read TOO many treasures} that I don’t get around to consuming.

I’ve used spices I brought back from Thailand to make green curry over scented rice. I handmade tortillas with masa, and filled them with shrimp out of the freezer and accented it with homemade sriracha. I’ve eaten frozen yogurt with some dulce de leche leftover from the holidays, and I’ve made pizza dough, which I piled with the odds and ends of the vegetable bin and the cheese drawer.  It’s been so much fun I may keep on going until I am forced to stop. Once I started getting creative with what’s on hand, I got myself on a roll. {next is whole grain waffles with warm fruit compote using frozen fruits, and I’ve got polenta, ricotta cheese and spinach which will become something…}

This pear salad happened earlier this week. One of my treasures was a fresh wedge of my favorite blue cheese {Rogue Creamery Smoked Blue}. I had only 2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, so this plus that became the other.

I have a hard time eating salads in the winter. Once an Ayurvedic practitioner told me I was a something-or-other, (hatha? pitta?), which explained that I preferred warm foods during the cold days and vice versa. It’s not like I needed telling, I tend to shy away from the thought of crispy salads in the darker days of the year. Roasting the pears though takes the edge off. It also adds the best flavor in the world, caramelization, which is really the only excuse I need.

Roasted Blue Pear Salad
serves 4
2 strips of thick apple smoked bacon
1T unsalted butter
1t sugar
2 bosc pears
juice of one small lemon
.25 t dijon mustard
.5 clove garlic, minced
~5T olive oil- to taste
S & P
4 handfuls baby arugula, washed
.25c red onion, thinly sliced
2 oz Rogue Creamery Smoked Blue Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350˚
In a small, oven proof sauté pan over medium heat,  fry the bacon until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels, reserving the fat.
Pour off all but 1T of bacon grease and add butter and sugar. Melt over medium heat.
Cut pears in half and using a teaspoon gauge out the centers creating a delicate cup.
Place pears face down in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until a nice caramelization develops of the edges of the pears. Then place the entire pan in the oven.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl place the lemon juice, mustard and garlic and whisk to combine. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Taste for acid balance, adding more oil if needed. Then salt and pepper to taste.
Toss in arugula and onions and turn over with tongs to cover in dressing. Divide greens amongst 4 plates.
When the pears turn a brownish color and start to show translucency around the edges, remove from the oven.
Place a pear on each place and stuff center with cheese. Sprinkle with chopped bacon and serve warm.
A little extra salt and a fresh grind of pepper is a nice finish.


12 Days of Holiday Food Gifts to Make {Revisited}

Happy Holidays!
Twelve amazing days of Food gifts for memorable giving.

Last year for the holidays I did a series of 12 food gifts for making and giving. A bunch of folks have been asking about them, so here they are in the order that they were posted in. Just click on the title to take you directly to the original post. Also be sure to check on the page bar at the top of the post for resources for jars, containers, ribbons, etc.

White Chocolate Candies

Day 1- White Chocolate Candies– easy to make drops.

Day 2- Candied Fruits- Sweet and Savory. This post contains recipes for the candied pears shown above, candied spicy tangerines and candied ginger.

Day 3- Rosemary Lemon Biscotti and Dark Chocolate Cherry Biscotti– two classic cookies.\

Day 4- A Tradition Renewed- Marzipan– instructions on how to make cherries, pears and plums.

Day 5- Cowboy Candy- sweet pickled jalapeños that have the added bones of a beautiful syrup leftover that makes the dang best margaritas you’ve EVER tasted!

Day 6- Flavored Oils– Two infusion methods: Hot and Cold. Recipes for Lemon Oil, Basil Oil and Smoked Paprika Oil.

Day 7- Mixed Drinks~Pre-made cocktails. These are the bases for some delicious cocktails. Just add ice a spritz of tonic or soda water and you can kick back and enjoy the evening.

Day 8- Fruit Compotes~ Red & Blueberry Mint, and Orange Lavender– Send along with a batch of homemade scones for a special Christmas morning breakfast.

Day 9- Fregolotta- An Italian tradition. It’s a large cracker like cookie, full of almonds, that is broken and eaten after dinner, served here with a ruby port.

Day 10- Homemade syrups to make your own exotic soda or create a cocktail. Blueberry Thyme, Ginger Ale, and Fresh Mint

Day 11- Apricot Tapenade with Rosemary. A sweet and savory fruit sauce that pairs beautifully with cheese and makes a colorful and sparkling addition to your holiday table.

Day 12- NUTELLA!!!!!!

Happy making and sharing everyone!

Balsamic Poached Pear and Goat Brie Bites

Pears are poached in balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper

My move is now planned and the boxes are beginning to get packed. Not only has this not deterred me from cooking, but by a quirk has increased my inspiration. The crazy thing is as I dig into my cupboards and cabinets I’m finding pans and tools and platters and things that I had forgotten were in there.

I have been blessed with an inordinate amount of storage space and an insatiable appetite for china and gadgets. Years ago, long before Martha Stewart Magazine had their big studio and kitchen(s), they would sometimes shoot in my loft. I had ovens, refrigeration and counters galore, but what I also had was stuff. As you know the stylists on the magazine are some of the best out there, and also the most nit picky. Often when some prop was in need, or just not right, I would fling open my cabinet doors and pull out more options. The look on people’s faces is always priceless. I REALLY have stuff!
So now, all my memories are spilling out of the dark corners of the platter cabinet (yes, I have an entire 30″ x 48″” cabinet filled to the brim with only platters). It’s been a wonderful time.
This quick and lovely hors d’oeuvres is one of my great fall backs. The pears are also wonderful with a nice thin slice of pate as well. Definitely use a bread toast here to catch the gorgeous balsamic sauce. Crackers won’t cut it.
I usually make these right on the spot which means that they get gobbled up as fast as I can put them down on the platter.
Balsamic Poached Pears w Black Pepper and Brie Toasts
serves 12
3T apple cider vinegar
2T balsamic vinegar
2T turbinado sugar
cracked fresh black pepper
2 barely ripe pears, peeled and sliced thin
6oz Goat Brie
baguette or sourdough bread for toasts
Combine vinegars, sugar and pepper in a small saucepan and warm allowing the sugar to melt.
Add the pears and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let the pears stand in the poaching liquid for 1 hr.
Gently remove pears and bring remaining sauce to a low boil and slightly reduce.
Toast up your bread and have on the ready. Place a pear slice or two onto the bread and top with a small wedge of the brie.
Warm in the oven to just melt the brie. Drizzle with the reserved balsamic sauce and serve.