You need to give yourselves TIME for this – you really shouldn’t leave this dish to do itself.
You need to be there stirring, stirring, stirring! Allow about 40 mins.
What you’ll need…
A heavy flat-bottomed pan with fairly low sides – ie not a saucepan.
Ingredients for a couple of generous portions ….
Glug of olive oil and lump of butter
1 small white onion – finely chopped
6oz Risotto rice – my fav is Carnaroli – seems to make the risotto extra creamy somehow – Arborio is absolutely fine too. I used a 1/2 cup to measure and then used the cup as my ladle.
Glass white wine (optional, but hey! you get to drink the rest, right?)
Pear of your choice – whatever looks nice to you! Chopped up into little cubes. You can keep the peel on, it softens nicely and gives the dish a little colour. (I didn’t this time, but usually do!)
Gorgonzola – either the creamy mild one or the more crumbly stronger one – I used a mix of the 2. Cut up into little cubes.
Handful of parsley. (Again, for colour.)
Seasoning to taste – freshly ground pepper and fresh ground rock salt.
Stock – I use chicken stock, although if you want to keep it strictly veggie, vegetable stock will be very good too. Now, I do not bother with making my own stock very often. I like the cubes and the new stock jelly cubes from Knorr. I use a mix of the 2 (one of each) in about a litre and half of water. If you like making your own stock, knock yourselves out, it’ll be undoubtedly delicious! My reasoning behind not doing it is that I usually make my mind up to do risotto pretty much last minute – I don’t give myself enough time to make my own stock!
Putting it all together ….
First get your stock on the boil in the saucepan and then turn it down to a bare simmer. Keeping it very hot is, as far as I’m concerned, essential to a good risotto.
In your pan generously glug in your oil and melt the butter gently over a medium heat.
When the butter has melted, add the onion and break up with the wooden spoon.
Cook the onion without allowing it to brown until it’s softened and a little translucent.
Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated in the oil/butter. Keep stirring gently to prevent the rice from sticking or browning. After a few minutes, the rice will look a little bit see-through on the edges.
Turn the heat up very slightly until you can hear the rice and onion cooking. Add the glass of wine (or a ladle of stock if you’re not using wine) – you should hear a very satisfying sizzling sound!
Keep stirring until the wine has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of stock and stir through. Keep gently stirring! Stirring keeps the risotto from sticking and breaks down the starches in the rice – the starch is what makes the risotto lovely and creamy.
After the 3rd ladleful of stock, before you start your stirring, add your apple cubes, then start your stirring again.
Stir in a gentle figure of 8 with a circuit of the pan after the ‘8’ to bring the risotto together again. Sort of a ‘8’ followed by ‘0’ …
Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, one at a time until the risotto is creamy, thick and the grains of rice still have a little ‘bite’ to the centre of them. (Al dente). Turn off the heat and stir through the cheese and the parsley. Check and season to taste. Let it sit for a minute or so before serving. It shouldn’t be dry nor soupy – but something between the 2. If it’s too dry, add a little of the stock and stir that through.
(NB . Don’t forget to turn the heat off the stock at the end of making the risotto too!)
Serve in warmed bowls. Have the white wine used for this dish (if there’s any left!).
2 or 4, 6″ round cake pans
Fine mesh sieve
Piping bag (optional)
Large round piping tip (optional)
Icing spatula (optional)
8 ounces flour
1 pound sugar
3 ounces cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot
4 ounces pecans
1 cup fortified caramel (recipe below)
2 cups spiced buttercream frosting (recipe below)
1.Preheat an oven to 350°F. Prepare the cake pans by buttering the bottom and sides, lining the bottom with parchment paper and buttering the paper. Set aside.
2. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda & salt). Set aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the eggs for about a minute until broken a part.
4. Add the cream, sour cream and melted butter to the eggs. Mix until blended well.
5. Pour the egg, cream and butter mixture into the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix until the mixture is completely blended and homogeneous.
6. Add the vanilla. Then add the hot coffee to the batter in small additions, mixing well after each addition. Mix in until the batter homogenous.
7. If you are using four pans, evenly distribute the batter into the prepared cake pans. If you are using two, evenly distribute half of the batter between the two pans – you will need to repeat step 6 and 7 with the remaining half of the batter. The batter left to rest may not rise as much as the batter baked aright away.
8. Place the cake pans on a baking sheet. Add the pears to the baking sheet. Bake everything in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out just barely clean (a few straggling crumbs is ok). The pears should be soft to the touch – they may need to bake longer than the cake.
9. While the cakes are baking, prepare the fortified caramel and the buttercream frosting according to the instructions. Set both aside.
8. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.
10. Place one layer on a cake stand or plate. Using a piping bag with a large circle tip pipe large circles of frosting around the top of the cake – so when you press the second layer on top it will give a daisy appearance. You may also use an icing spatula to spread the frosting on top. Place the second layer on top.
11. Decorate each cake.
Below are decorating instructions:
For a caramel drizzled top – Place a whole baked pear on top of the cake, in the center. Sprinkle pecans around the pear. Spoon the caramel over the pear and pecans, letting it pool and drizzle down the sides of the cake.
For a pear spiral top – Place a whole baked pear on top of the cake, in the center. Cut another baked pear into 1/4″ wedges. Arrange the wedges in a fanned spiral around the whole pear. Sprinkle pecans on top.
For a caramelized pear accent – Cut a baked or unbaked pear in half. Sprinkle sugar on top of the cut portion. Using a torch, or the broiler of your oven, caramelize the sugar like you would on a creme brulee. Let the sugar harden for about 30 seconds before working with the pear. This should only be done right before serving as the juices in the pear will cause the caramelized sugar to liquify after about 30 minutes.
r Store in an airtight container at room temperature. This cake should last 3 to 4 days though it is best served the same day.
n Avoid adjusting the ingredients in this recipe.
Buttercream Frosting: This frosting is the typical, easy-breezy buttercream variety. You throw everything in a bowl and beat until it is creamy. It doesn’t get much easier than this. Here a little cinnamon and cardamom is added to give the frosting a bite.
Spiced Buttercream Frosting
2 cups frosting
Stand mixer with a paddle attachment
4 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 tbls cream
1. Add all of the ingredients to the bowl. Beat until everything is combined and the frosting is light and frothy.
r Store in an airtight container at room temperature. The frosting should last 3 to 4 days.
Fortified Caramel: Any caramel that has cream and butter added is called a fortified caramel. It is probably my favorite kitchen concoction as the creaminess and butteriness paired with the delightfully carmalized sugar is a match made in heaven.
Making fortified caramel is exactly like making classic caramel, but with fortified caramel you add cream and butter (and possible other flavorings) at the end. Be sure to stand at the stove and watch the boiling sugar closely. As soon as it reaches a golden amber – or caramel – color, remove it from the heat. Sugar can go from caramel to burnt blackjack in a matter of a minute and once caramel is over cooked it is ruined – you will have to start from scratch if that happens.
1 pound sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 ounces unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Add the sugar, water, lemon juice and corn syrup into the heavy-bottom pot and place over high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is homogeneous.
2. Watching the thermometer and color carefully, boil the mixture until it becomes a golden amber color, or reaches about 325°F. This will take about 10 to 20 minutes. Do not stir during this time.
3. Once the caramel has reached the appropriate color (careful not to let it continue cooking too long) remove from the heat. Carefully pour the cream into the pot while stirring vigorously. STAND BACK as you do this as the caramel and cream could pop and explode upwards.
4. If the mixture is lumpy, place the caramel back over the heat, stirring constantly until the lumps have dissolved.
5. Off of the heat add the butter and cinnamon. Stir until the butter is completely dissolved.
6. Let the caramel cool.
r Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The caramel should last up to a week.
n Avoid adjusting the ingredients in this recipe.
t Pay attention to the temperature while making the caramel.
Tonight I did a riff on the usual pork and apple ho hum. Roast loin of pork with shallots and pears. Coated a loin with olive oil by hand, S&P, studded it with cloves and hot roasted long enough to brown, about 30-40 minutes; down heat and added just enough water to deglaze the forming caramel. Basted and roasted for another hour. Added peeled shallots and basted again. Half hour before finishing, I peeled/sliced one of those beautiful red skinned pears, put the slices in a bowl with enough red wine (barbera to be precise) to coat generously and added pear slices and wine to the roasting pan. Took out pork when done and finished the pears and shallots until I had a lovely sauce but the pears were still fairly intact. Sliced pork thinly and served with sauce. We ended up almost licking the roasting pan. Pears add a whole nuther dimension to the finished item.
Compote (does not make a lot so double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed)
2 Anjou Pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1 spritz of lemon juice
1-2 tsp sugar (I would go with as little as possible. Pears are sweet enough. )
1 splash bourbon
1 quarter inch slice of fresh ginger, grated or chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 sprinkle cinnamon
Melt butter in pan, add sugar until melted. Add pears and ginger, cinnamon and splash of bourbon and cook for about 5 minutes or to desired tenderness. Set aside.
1 cup Milk
3 Egg yolks
1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Bourbon
Pinch of salt.
Beat eggs, sugar and salt until the color lightens. Set aside. Heat milk until scalding. Slowly add a tablespoon of milk to egg mixture, whisking the whole time. As you get further along you can stream milk in, but don’t stop whisking. Add Bourbon. Return mixture to heat and bring the heat up slowly over a low flame. Once the cream thickens, it’s done. Turn off heat, but keep mixing until it cools.
Make crepes according to basic crepe recipe and compose dish!!!
It’s really much better than my photography skills make it look. AHAHAHAHAHHAHA
One pate brisee recipe, pre-baked in a tart pan
2 large Quince (mele di cotogne) peeled, cored and quartered
2 Star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds removed
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
2 tbsp apricot jam
Place the quince in a large saucepan with the star anise, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds, sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the quince soften enough for a fork to pierce easily but not enough that they fall apart. Remove quince from the poaching liquid. When cool, slice into 1/2 slices
Reduce the poaching liquid over medium heat until about 1 cup remains. It should be a deep ruby red. Remove the spices and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, spread the apricot jam on the tart shell in a very thin layer, just enough to seal the crust. Arrange the pear and quince in a pleasing alternating pattern in the center of the tart. Brush the fruit lightly with the reduced poaching liquid. Serve with remaining poaching liquid.
100 grams of gorgonzola
100 grams of” Duetto” (50% gorgonzola 50% marscapone)
60 grams Butter
60 ml cream(panna liquida)
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of salt
a dash of nutmeg(optional)
Peel and cut the pears into cubes. Saute them in the butter in frying pan until they are soft and Amber(hihi) colored. Take it off the heat and add salt and pepper.
When the pears are done put your gnocchi water on when its boiling..
Cut the gorgonzola and duetto into cubes and put it in with the pear and butter. I added little by little the cream until it was all melted together and creamy.
Cook and drain the gnocchi, put the sauce on them and mix and add grate a dash of nutmeg.
Delicious pear, ginger and walnut upside-down pudding, a lovely moist pud and one of our customers favourites when we had our pub!
320g self-raising flour
200g soft brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
50g chopped walnuts
240 ml milk
100ml olive or sunflower oil
2 tbsp dark treacle
1. With the butter, grease the base (thickly) and sides of a 28cm springform round tin
2. Sprinkle 3 tbsp of the brown sugar over the butter and then half the chopped walnuts
3. Slice the pears very thinly and arrange in circles neatly on the bottom of the tin
4. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and add the rest of the sugar, spices and the remaining walnuts
5. In a separate jug whisk the milk, oil, eggs and treacle together
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together
7. Pour mixture over the prepared base and bake in the centre of a Pre-heated oven at 175oC for approximately 40 minutes until golden brown and firm but springy to the touch
8. Turn out upside-down onto a large plate and serve warm with cream, ice cream or custard – yummy!
Chocolate sauce: 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Place first four (dry) ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan, along with 1/2 cup of the milk and whisk to combine into a thick paste.
Add the remaining milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and whisk to combine well. When sauce boils, reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 5 minutes, whisking often. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and cool.
1/2 cup toasted pecans (toasted 5 min at 350)
1/3 pound soft Gorgonzola cheese, room temperature 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Finely chop the nuts in the work bowl of a small food processor. Crumble the cheese into the bowl and add the cream and salt and pepper to taste, and process until completely smooth, scraping sides when necessary. Serve at room temperature.
Pear ice cream:
2 1/4 pounds ripe Anjou or Comice pears, peeled, halved, cored, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 cup pear nectar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Combine pears, pear nectar and lemon juice in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Transfer to processor; puree until smooth. Chill until cold.
Whisk yolks and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot cream into yolk mixture. Return to same saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into mixture; add bean. Stir over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 7 minutes (do not boil). Pour through strainer into bowl. Mix in 1 cup cream. Cool 15 minutes.
Add corn syrup and 3 cups pear puree to custard and whisk until blended (reserve any remaining pear puree for another use). Chill custard until cold, at least 4 hour or overnight.
Transfer custard to ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to covered container and freeze. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)
Dough for pasta (use commercial or your favourite recipe)
Preparation: peel the pears and rough grate them into a bowl and add lemon juice to keep from browning. Mix with the ricotta, egg and salt and pepper. Make the ravioloni and simmer until the pasta is done (don’t let them boil, they’ll fall apart); using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer one at a time to a plate covered with a dish towel. Pat off excess water. Melt the butter and add poppy seeds; let cook for about 4-5 minutes, then transfer the ravioloni to plates and pour the sauce over them. Optional: fresh grated parmesan. We calculated 1 raviolone per person but they were so good we ate 2!
Nothing says Autumn like the smell of Pear or Apple Butter cooking on the stove. I just love that smell. This kind of cooking brings me back home to New Jersey with the Mennonite side of my family. My mother used to get Apple butter during the fall and spread on toast such a treat.
Pear butter (brown butter) does not contain butter but is called butter because it has been cooked down to a concentrate of pears mixed with some spices. It is so thick and creamy and spreadable. The flavor is out of this world. It is not a jam, jelly or preserve, just thick concentrate of pears.
When you go to make it you are going to have to allocate many hours. It is a long process of cooking it down to a concentrate. I have made a small amount (1/2 liter) and it took 3 hours of slow cooking. I also do not cook on high heat because I am not making jelly or jam I am just cooking the water out of it and and caramelizing the pears and sugar. I have put sugar in mine but you can do it without. You can do the same with apples.
6 pears peeled and cored sliced
1 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, all spice)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Put the pears in a saucepan, use a big pan, even though it is a small amount, when it is cooking it will splatter. Cook down till they are soft. Using a handheld blender and puree them. Then add the vanilla and sugar. Keep cooking it will look like apple sauce then start to thicken and darken. Keep cooking stirring many times to prevent burning. Keep the heat at a medium low to even low. You are going to be simmering it for a long while. Even though it looks dark you are going to keep going until it is really dark and when on a dish and cooled some it is spreadable. Store in a jar and refrigerate. You can also put in jars and do a canning process if storing on a shelf. Enjoy