Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pear Crisp

I am really not a pie person, but I do LOVE apple crisp. So, when I saw this recipe for pear crisp I knew I had to try it. I made mine with Asian and Bosc pears which I sliced up and then layered into a glass casserole pan. This recipe was so ridiculously easy that I was almost concerned that it was too good to be true, but alas, it lived up to expectations! 

It was soft, tasty, and crispy on top with light hints of sugar and cinnamon. Plus, it was amazing when served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream (errr... or three dollops as is evident from my picture). The only downside was that it made A LOT and I couldn’t eat it all, even after indulging in it for a few days. It would definitely be a great thing to make for an easy dessert for a dinner party though.

Overall score: 10 out of 10. (Wahoo, complete success!)

Ratatouille with Steak Au Poivre

Time to put the fancy new cookware to use! I’ve never made ratatouille before and I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten it either… honestly, before seeing this recipe I’m not sure I even really knew what it was, other than the bits and pieces I was able to glean after watching the first half of the Pixar movie. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s really just a whole bunch of chopped up fresh spices and veggies like eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. 
This recipe was very easy, especially because I got to chop up all the fresh spices (parsley, thyme, etc.) in my little food processor so it made a very savory addition to the veggies. Then, of course, I cooked it in the oven in my fancy new Fontignac dish. Using fresh veggies and spices from Whole Foods was definitely key to this recipe and I’m pretty addicted to using all fresh ingredients now whenever I can (rather than anything canned, frozen, or dried spices) – I can’t wait for summer and farm market season!

I also chose a nice sirloin steak to accompany the ratatouille which I decided to cook “au poivre” style, coated in cracked peppercorns – I even found a recipe online for how to make the pan sauce (which was quite easy and especially delicious, thank you Julia Child!) 

I made my pan sauce with red wine rather than cognac and I added some Dijon mustard which gave it a nice kick. I think I want to keep experimenting with sauces now that I get the jist of how to make them (basically adding some gravy, alcohol, spices and such to the drippings from the steak pan).

Overall rating: 9 out of 10.

Valentine's Day Clam Chowder

Wow, I managed to get really far behind in updating all of the wonderful creations I have been dutifully whipping up in the kitchen. But don’t fear, I am going to spend the next few days getting everything up to speed in a quick and easy manner.
For Valentine’s Day this year I decided to pull out the trusty Soup Bible and make something that I’ve never tired before: Clam Chowder. I figured, I’m in Boston after all, why not celebrate this romantic holiday like a true New Englander. I’ve never made clam chowder before, though I have made steamed clams and mussels in broth.

Everything about this recipe went fabulously. It was very hearty and delicious, especially since I used nice, fresh clams that came from Maine. Also, it was a very attractive dish in my humble opinion, since it was served with nice chunks of potato, baby corn, clams that were both in and out of the shell, and then garnished with sliced limes.

Overall score: 9 out of 10.
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