Archive for December, 2011
As the day winds to a close, guests preparing to leave, the Packers and Bears game in its final quarter, the kids playing with their new favorite toys (if they are still awake), the Christmas Feast has reached its final course. After the outstanding, if somewhat overwhelming, turkey and stuffing combination, it’s time for something a little more austere yet elegant. No pies, cakes, or other heavy baked goods, just a beautifully caramelized pear complimented by old fashioned vanilla bean ice cream.
While it may sound simple, making your own caramel and hazelnut butter can be a challenge and you have to watch the consistency and temperature on both. You also want to make sure that you chose ripe pears since they will not soften much when cooked for only 15 minutes. If everything goes well however, you will have an amazing dessert; the perfect end to a perfect day.
3 firm, ripe Bosc pears
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar or squeeze or fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skinned
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Peel and halve the pears, leaving the stem intact on one of the halves. Set aside.
To make the caramel, place the sugar, water, and vanilla bean seeds in a nonreactive, shallow, wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid. Add the cream of tartar or lemon juice and stir together until the sugar is completely moistened. Heat the mixture over medium heat, covered, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup begins to bubble. Remove the lid, increase the heat slightly and allow the syrup to boil undisturbed until it turns golden in color. Add the butter and swirl until combined and color is uniform.
Carefully place the pear halves in the caramel, cut side down. Cook over medium heat, occasionally basting the pears with caramel, until the sauce begins to attach itself to the pears and give them color, about 15 minutes. Carefully transfer the pear halves to a small sheet tray lined with foil or parchment paper and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce. Cool at room temperature.
While the pears are cooling, make the hazelnut butter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread the hazelnuts on a small pan. Toast the nuts until they are lightly golden and aromatic, about 8 minutes. Cool completely, set aside ¼ cup and transfer the remaining ½ cup hazelnuts to a blender or food processor. Add the olive oil, sugar, and salt and blend briefly on low speed. Gradually increase the speed until a smooth paste forms, adding water a tablespoon at a time to achieve the right consistency, slightly looser than peanut butter. (The hazelnut butter should coat the back of a spoon.)
To serve, lightly crush the reserved hazelnuts with the back of a sauté pan being certain to leave them coarse. Drain excess caramel from pear halves, coat them with hazelnut butter and roll in the crushed nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or lightly whipped cream.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe courtesy of usapears.org1 comment
Main and Side Dishes: Roasted Turkey Rubbed with Jalapeno, Fresh Sage and Orange Butter and Bread Stuffing with Pears, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions
This is the moment everyone has been waiting for all day. After the exuberant and frenzied unwrapping of presents, after the trips outside to play in the snow, after the unique and tasty starter dishes, it has come down to this; the main course, the pièce de résistance. While we like to mix things up, push fruit to its culinary boundaries and share our recipe stories, we also have a strong sense of tradition. For many Americans, no Christmas dinner is complete without turkey, and we kind of feel the same way. But while we may have chosen a traditional dish, we of course are going to mix things up and feature fruit in every aspect of this Christmas Feast.
We begin with the turkey. Basted with fresh pressed orange juice, butter, orange zest, jalapenos and sage leaves, this tropical inspired dish will become an instant classic. Basting takes work, but the result is culinary perfection; meat that falls off the bone, flavored throughout by the perfectly spiced orange jalapeno rub. While you want to make sure to remove the jalapeno seeds, the turkey is not overly spicy instead absorbing all of the rich jalapeno flavor. The sage balances the powerful flavors of the orange and jalapeno and provides that classic smell and taste. The recipe called for the turkey to be roasted at 450 degrees before reducing the heat to 375. We found this a little too hot unless you prefer your bird’s skin to be dark and crispy. Setting the oven to 350 and cooking for twice as long makes for a more balanced dish and really allows the flavors to permeate the meat.
Orange juice is all fine and good, but what about some real fresh fruit thrown into the mix? While apple stuffing recipes are common, pear stuffing is a little more unique. We chose Green D’Anjou Pears as they hold up well when cooked without having the gritty texture of Bosc Pears. This recipe was another one from our friends at USA Pears and is one of the best tasting stuffing recipes you will ever try. Call us nostalgic, but we like to stuff the turkey instead of cooking the stuffing separate. This allows both dishes to flavor each other, and the jalapeno orange essence of the turkey definitely enhanced this already outstanding dish. The amount of liquid was a little too much, especially if you stuff the bird. We actually added some left over crostini to absorb and balance the four cups of chicken broth. Regardless of how you cook it, the stuffing is the perfect counterpoint to the turkey, and you may find yourself without any leftovers the next day.
To complement and complete the meal we chose a bottle of Sheffield Harvest Crush Cider. This non-alcoholic apple and wine grape cider is produced by a local northwest company and a favorite at The Fruit Company. Check out all of our brand new cider gifts featuring this cider on our cider and fruit gifts page at thefruitcompany.com.
Roasted Turkey Rubbed with Roasted Jalapeno, Fresh Sage and Orange Butter
2 cups fresh orange juice (we used fresh pressed Navel Oranges)
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3 jalapenos, roasted peeled, seeded
¼ cup fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh turkey (16 pounds)
Put orange juice in a small nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced about 1/4 cup. Let cool to room temperature.
Put the butter, cool orange syrup, zest, jalapeno and sage in a food processor and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl. Can be made 1 day in advance and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Remove neck and gizzard from the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly with cold water and pat dry. Rub the entire surface with 1/2 of the butter. Season the skin and the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Truss the turkey and place on rack in a large roasting pan.
Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees and continue roasting for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, brushing with the remaining butter every 15 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com
Bread Stuffing with Pears, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
10 cups unseasoned dry bread cubes
8 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ¼ pounds frozen pearl onion, thawed and blotted dry
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
3 large ribs celery, chopped
2/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh sage
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a deep 9-by-13-inch baking pan with the butter. Place the bread cubes in a very large mixing bowl. In a 10-inch saute pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon drain the bacon and add to the bread in the bowl. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan, reserving the extra. Add the onions to the pan and saute over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the onions and saute, stirring constantly, until the onions turn golden and the edges caramelize, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add to the bread in the bowl.
Return the pan to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pears and celery and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, sage, salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and saute 1 minute longer. Add this mixture to the bread cubes, and stir to combine. Add the beaten eggs and stock to the bowl, and mix well. Place the stuffing in the prepared pan and bake, uncovered, until the top is lightly browned and crusty, about 1 hour.
Makes 12 servings.
Recipe courtesy of usapears.orgNo comments
As you announce the next course, you receive a few sighs or raised eyebrows at the news of a salad. After all, this is Christmas, the day when butter, sugar, and cream make every dish better and the activities don’t end until everyone is passed out in a food coma with sugar plums dancing in their head. But fear not, this potato salad is anything but ordinary with spicy mustard, onions, garlic, and crisp tart Granny Smith Apples. The original recipe didn’t even call for fresh apples, but it was such a unique recipe that we had to try it. We believe every dish is better with fresh fruit and this was no exception. The balance of sweet, crunchy, creamy, and spicy will have your head spinning; a veritable Christmas culinary potpourri. Making the dish is very straight forward, probably the easiest out of all the recipes in the Christmas Feast , especially since you can make this salad hours or even a day in advance and store it in the fridge.
3 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
2 tart apples (we used fresh Granny Smith)
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ Creole mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Place the cubed potatoes in a large pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain in a colander and let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Once cool, add potatoes to a large bowl. Add chopped onions, celery, and garlic. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.comNo comments
As many cooks know, having too many sous chefs or people just browsing the kitchen can get more than a little distracting, especially on Christmas Day. To give you time to clean up after the Christmas morning tornado and the oh so delicious starter dishes, you send the restless crowd outside to keep them occupied while you baste the turkey. Before long, snowballs are flying, angels dot the yard, and little cheeks begin to turn bright red. Exhausted, cold, the activities are once again drawn indoors where piping hot Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish awaits.
Unlike the Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini, the Pumpkin Soup looks simple, but is a complex blend of flavors that culminate in a rich creamy soup that neither you nor your guests will be able to put down. The soup, with a dash of nutmeg and hot sauce, warms your mouth without being too spicy; the perfect tonic for the frozen artic explorers. Because the soup is blended, the sweet crunchy relish adds texture and balance to the creamy liquid. We used fresh Fuji Apples for the relish; possibly a touch too sweet for this recipe, but the flavor was still outstanding. There is no denying however that this soup will become an instant favorite, and once again you have temporarily fended off the hungry patrons.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 ribs celery with greens, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or 2 teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can cooked pumpkin puree
2 cups heavy cream
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 crisp apple (we used fresh Fuji Apples)
¼ red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add the oil and melt the butter. Add bay, celery, and onion. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Add flour, poultry seasoning and hot sauce, to taste, then cook flour a minute. Whisk in chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble. Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth. Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit then add in cream and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
While soup cooks, assemble the relish: combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon.
Adjust seasonings in soup and relish and serve soup in shallow bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish.
Makes 8 servings.
Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.comNo comments
Everyone has their own memories and traditions for Christmas morning. For our family it begins by waking up to the aroma of freshly baked coffee cake topped with strawberries. Outside, the frost, or sometimes snow, glistens in the dawn’s first light as we gather around the fireplace and open stockings. The morning is a bustling mix of stretching, yawning, and wide eyed wonderment that is only finished when every stocking has been opened and every gift unwrapped. As noon arrives, the attention once again turns to food, and the smell of the upcoming Christmas feast fills the house. To stave off the voracious, albeit still joyous crowd you present the starters; Balsamic-Glazed Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini and Hot Spiced Apple-Pear Cider.
The crostini are deceptively simple combining only a few ingredients to create a truly magical dish. The mix of the sweet balsamic glaze with the crunchy toasted baguette and rich salty goat cheese is the perfect balance of flavor and texture. And then there are the pears. We used our famous Webster Comice Pears, the sweetest and juiciest of the pear varieties, which made these appetizers simply melt in your mouth.
The Hot Spiced Apple-Pear Cider was the perfect complement to the rich yet delicate crostini. While the cider is flavored with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, black peppercorns and allspice berries, the taste does not linger, instead refreshing and cleansing your palate in between bites of pear and goat cheese. As we had an abundance of fresh fruit, we decided to modify the cider recipe slightly and use fresh pressed juice as opposed to bottled cider. We again reached for the Comice Pears because of their natural sweetness and abundant juice, paired with slightly tart but very flavorful Honeycrisp Apples. The fresh pressed juice required a little more straining and filtering but the result was superb. As someone reaches for the last crostini, mug still in hand, you know the guests stomachs have been appeased … for now.
Balsamic-Glazed Pear and Goat Cheese Crostini
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon honey
24 baguette rounds, toasted
½ cup spreadable goat cheese
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted*
Ground black pepper, if desired
Slice pears stem-side-up into 12 quarter-inch width vertical planks. Cut large slices in half lengthwise for a total of 48 slices.
Heat vinegar, butter, and honey in large frying pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until reduced by half, about 2 tablespoons. Add pear slices and continue cooking for 1 minute, turning once.
Place 2 pear slices on each baguette round and top with 1 teaspoon goat cheese. Sprinkle almonds over cheese and garnish with fresh pepper, if desired.
*To toast almonds, place in heavy frying pan and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes or until tan with toasted aroma.
Makes 24 servings.
Recipe courtesy of usapears.org
Hot Spiced Apple-Pear Cider
4 cups apple cider (we used fresh pressed Honeycrisp Apples)
4 cups pear juice or nectar (we used fresh pressed Comice Pears)
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 (2 ½ inch) cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
4 allspice berries
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Let steep, off the heat, for at least 20 minutes. Reheat, and then strain and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Recipe courtesy of pauladeen.comNo comments
We’re always talking up fruit; it’s healthy, delicious, and makes for a fantastic holiday gift. And this last weekend as it came time to hang our wreaths and fill our houses with sparkling tinsel and evergreens, we came across another reason to love fruit: decorating.
Think about it: how many meals did you eat this week that you’d display on a fireplace or as a centerpiece? Exactly. There’s something to be said about decorating with items that at the drop of a hat can turn into a snack. We kind of wish all decorative items worked that way. But seeing as they don’t, we decided to put together a mini-guide into making the most of your fruit decorations this holiday season.
1.) Color. Decorating with fruit means decorating with color. Take one look at the produce section or our selection of premium fruit and you’ll see a palate of colors waiting to liven up your house and holidays. For us, there’s nothing better than mixing red apples and green pears. Call it cliché, we call it classic. Mix Pink Ladys or Honeycrisp apples with Green d’Anjou pears and you can’t go wrong. But that certainly doesn’t mean you’re limited to red and green, be creative and experiment. That’s half the fun of it.
2.) Quality. One of the biggest pitfalls when decorating with fruit is underestimating the difference that quality fruit can make. Much in the way an ugly painting can ruin a wall, a bunch of misfit fruit together is bound to bring down any centerpiece or display. Look for fruit bursting with color and displaying character. If it looks unappetizing, it won’t work. Fruit on display looks good because there’s something beautiful about delicious-looking fruit. It’s like they say, you eat with your eyes first.
3.) The Arrangement. With our arrangements, we focus on the fruit. There’s nothing better than an elegant bowl, either clear or with an understated design, filled with fruit. For the holidays though, we like to add little flourishes of traditional holiday garnishes to spice up our displays. Holly, evergreen branches (small ones), and mistletoe can really make a big impact, though you’ll want to avoid overusing them as they can overwhelm the fruit and become gaudy in a hurry. It’s hard to say how much is too much, but chances are, you’ll know when you see it.
4.) That Natural Look. Our last tip in decorating with fruit is to make it look as natural as possible. Sure, there aren’t many places in nature where you can find apples and pears carefully wrapped around holly (or whatever you’re using) but the best displays always have a semblance of naturalness to them. Try not to make your display look too manicured or artificial. Avoid anything too intricate as the best fruit displays showcase the fruit in all its splendor. And don’t forget to use seasonal fruit. Apples, pears, pomegranates and oranges all carry with them memories of holidays past. You just got to bring it out with a little love.
Everyone likes fruit; some people love it. And then there are people like us, people who live fruit. It’s in our cereal in the morning, our conversations during the day, and our dreams at night. We’ve long given up using months and seasons to track the time. We just go by what’s in season: its apple harvest, its pear season, its blueberry picking time.
And during the holidays, when apples and pears are at their most divine, we can’t help ourselves. We up our intake, eating our fair share and then some. We find new ways to enjoy fruit: dried, candied, chocolate covered, as decoration (more on that next week) and our latest obsession, for dinner. And if you know anything about us, it’s that we’re not talking about a fruit salad or a regrettable jello concoction. We’re talking dinner, main course, the pièce de résistance.
Last year, we created a Thanksgiving feast centered around a different variety of fruit and posted it on the blog. We figured best case scenario, people use some of the recipes and start cooking with fruit more. Worst case scenario? Two Thanksgivings. It was win, win from the beginning.
The menu was as follows:
Pomegranate Glazed Turkey
Pear, Apple, and Cranberry Pie
To say that it was delicious would be wrong. It was all sorts of delicious. And in the end, that gigantic meal in all it’s glory produced not a single leftover. I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it…
All of which is to say that we’re doing it again. This year, we’ll be cooking up a Christmas feast with five savory courses and one dessert, all incorporating fruit in a big way. We’ll be posting the pictures and our play-by-play in the upcoming newsletter, but we wanted to go ahead and post the recipes here a little early so that they have time to marinate. Let the mouthwatering commence!No comments