Tag Archives: pears

P.A.C. Crisp (pear, apple, cranberry)


Crisp ala mode, what could be better?  

Yesterday we had an Autumn Family gathering with the other families from our playgroup we go to Thursday mornings.  I made this delicious crisp, along with the help of my trusty 2.75 year old assistant.  I have to say that this crisp is exceptionally tasty.  No, let’s not kid ourselves…it’s a complete foreshadow of everything Autumn (which is a GOOD thing indeed).

I was looking for something rustic, simple, and a ‘knock your socks off type of good,’ to make for dessert.  I actually had never made it before, but I knew my Ina Garten hadn’t let me down so far, and her Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook would for sure have a crisp recipe. I made a few adjustments from the original recipe, by using rapadura sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, using cranberries instead of dried, and adding cardamom (since there was orange in the recipe, cardamom screamed to be used).  All of these made it taste great, especially the addition of cardamom.


The pears, apples, & cranberries sitting in sugary, spicy goodness.

Since my two year old helped make the crisp, she couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the afternoon.  The party was at 4:00 and she still needed to take a nap.  She had a bit of a meltdown when I informed her that we weren’t going to the party quite yet, because she needed to take a nap.  Her eyes quickly filled up with tears and some speaking in tongues began, to which effect something about not being able to eat the crisp was murmured.   Poor girl, she even got a bit anxious as we were walking up to our friend’s door, where she looked around for the crisp then blurted with panic, “CRISP! CRISP?”  And yes, she was the only kid at the dinner table eating her crisp after dinner, while all the others were playing downstairs (Then, was it bad to serve this for breakfast to her?  I did put my foot down and say no to the ice cream she requested).

IMG_4237The crumb crust before entering the oven.  Yes it’s a lot of topping, but keep piling it on.

And it must be said that I adore all of these ladies whom I get to share life with (almost) every week.  We have been meeting weekly since just after V’s first birthday, which is almost two years now.  I love how we have our similarities and differences, yet we still choose to be more than co-mothers, but friends.  Each one of them brings a different gift to my life as a woman, wife & mom.  There isn’t judgment on how we parent different or how we fail, but grace, because we understand (period).  I also love how everyone is real & genuine.  No one comes in with a, “Wow, I LOVE being a mother every second of the day (or everyday for that matter).”  But there’s also not this, “Whoa, I hate being a mom and my kid is a….”

Instead, it’s a sincerity and a realness of “this mothering/parenting job is hard, and I don’t always like it, and I’m not going to be fake and make you think it’s the best job in the whole world 100% of the time.   But I do value something higher, which means I will give up some of my rights, in order to provide my children with something greater.  I not only value something higher, but love these stinkers so deep it hurts and am willing to go above & beyond for them.”  That’s who these women are to me and I love them for it.  So thanks Biz, Lindsey, Becky, Christine, Bethany, Megan & Talia–my Thursday mornings (although always running late & a bit disheveled) are my diamond in the rough as a stay at home mom and you ladies’ bring out a different spectrum of light in my diamond.

IMG_1673Last year’s Halloween party before many of the siblings were born.

P.A.C. Crisp (pear, apple, cranberry) (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. **A little side note: If you’re not familiar with other sugars like rapadura, I would encourage you to start baking & cooking with them.  I get mine from the bulk section at our local Co-op, which is cheaper than buying it pre-packaged in the health/natural section of your grocery store.** The recipe also called for Macoun apples, but I used what I had on hand and I’m not too particular when the recipe calls for say ‘Granny Smith.’  Instead, I use what I know could create a good end product and wouldn’t dissolve into mush (say Red Delicious).  My apples came from a friend’s tree, so I have no idea what they are called.


3 ripe Bosc pears

5 apples (I have no idea what kind I used)

3/4 cup frozen cranberries (that’s what I had on hand, but you could use fresh)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Squeezed juice of one orange

Squeezed juice of one lemon

1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar (this is sugar which is less refined and has a golden color to it)

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom


1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup rapadura sugar (however, I know most people don’t have this, so do 3/4 of the above sugars)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core the pears & apples. Cut them into large chunks. Put the fruit into a large bowl, toss with cranberries, zests, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, & cardamom. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.

For the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely. You’ll notice that this is a lot of crisp topping, but keep packing it on and you won’t be disappointed.

Place the baking dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm (with vanilla ice cream to live on the wild side).

IMG_4221Maybe sitting by the fire eating the crisp with this little cutie could be better.

Pull out the recipe box

As I mentioned a couple posts back about my cooking class and all the wonderful food I enjoyed, but didn’t have the recipes quite yet.  Well, I do now and I would love to share some of them with you.  But before I do that…I have to tell you a rather sweet & lovely morning I woke up to.

First off, I had a date with Ben last night and dominated the conversation (thanks for listening).  I dumped on him about how I’ve been feeling as a stay at home mom (ie trying to feed the kids in a fashionable time frame, wanting to enjoy a hot cup of coffee for once, trying really hard to run the inner workings of our house while spending quality time with my girls, etc etc etc).  As he was listening, he asked, “what would your ideal day look like with the girls?”  I think I repeated about three times, “well it would look like, no but that would be unrealistic,” while he would continue to say, “I didn’t ask what’s realistic, but idealistic” (here my realistic hubby telling his idealistic wife to stop being realistic–gotta love it).

So one of my answers was being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, sit down for breakfast all together and come home from Thursday playgroup with lunch already made to serve when we walk in the door (and a little bit more I’m leaving out, maybe it was a massage?).  Well, listen he did.  He took care of the oldest breakfast, had an americano for me and when I thought it couldn’t get any better…”here,” he said diverting my attention to a clear rubbermaid container, “a grilled cheese sandwich that just needs to be heated up and apple slices for the girl’s lunch.”

This is what hospitality looks like to a mother with two young children, who just the day before wanted to drive far, far away by herself.  I’m blessed to have such a guy and I try really hard to not take it for granted.  And as you read this and maybe make one of the recipes, I hope you will find someone you can bless through the simple act of hospitality, in the form of a meal.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

adapted from Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc

IMG_3754I personally am not a big fan of fried chicken, but I do believe some of you are…specifically Liz S.


1 gallon cold water

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey

12 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 large rosemary sprigs

1 small bunch of thyme

1 small bunch of parsley

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Two 3-pound chickens

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 cups buttermilk

Vegetable oil, for frying

Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the chickens and pat dry. Scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin and cut each bird into 8 pieces, keeping the breast meat on the bone.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

In a very large, deep skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 330°. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crunchy and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each piece registers 160°, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to paper towels to drain, and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

Mile High Buttermilk Biscuits

adapted Cooks Illustrated


These are truly a phenomenal buttermilk biscuit, which are super quick & easy.


2 C flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 C buttermilk

Additional flour

2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Spray a 9 in springform or cake pan with some nonstick spray.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt to a bowl and mix the ingredients together evenly. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no bigger than a small pea. Fold in the buttermilk until everything is just blended, and there are no streaks of flour remain. Do not overmix, the mixture should still be lumpy.

Line a plate or tray with some flour and using a 1/4 C measuring cup or 1/4 C ice cream/cookie scoop or eyeball it & use your hands, scoop out balls of the dough onto the tray of flour. Flour your hands and roll each ball around in the flour to evenly coat them in a layer of flour. The dough is very wet and very sticky. Place the dough balls into the prepared pan. Place 9 balls around in a ring and 3 balls in the center of the pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

Bake for 5 minutes at 500ºF (middle rack) and then lower the temperature to 450ºF and bake for another 15 minutes.

Apple Tarte Tatin


Pate Brisee

12 oz flour, sifted

1 tsp salt

8 oz unsalted butter, diced

1/4 C club soda (more or less)

Put flour, salt, and butter in food processor. Mix until it looks like grated parmesan. Add club soda a little at a time until pastry forms a ball and does not stick to sides. Dump dough onto a flat surface and push it away from you using the ball of your hand.  Do this two or three times.  Combine into a disc using your hands (don’t worry it will look pretty crumbly, which is normal).  Put dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.  Let it rest on countertop for 10-15 minutes, till a bit pliable.  Then roll for your pie pan.

Ingredients for Apple Tarte Tatin

8 tart (granny smith) apples

3/4 C sugar

1/2 stick unsalted butter

creme fraiche to serve

You need an oven proof frying pan –  cast-iron ovenproof frying pan is fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Peel, halve, and core apples. Melt butter in pan on stove. Add sugar (just sprinkle it on top of the butter) and place the apples decoratively on top (cut side down). Cook slowly until caramelized. This can take up to one hour. Do not stir! (Clearly, low heat here.)

When cooked (check by lifting an apple and seeing what’s going on), remove from heat.

Roll the pastry, put it on top of the apples. Tuck the sides in. Cook in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove, take a flat dish and turn the tarte upsidedown. Serve warm with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. You can also scrape a vanilla bean into the apples at the beginning of the caramelization and let the pod sit in there with them, too, but it’s not totally necessary.

Poached Pears



2 cups Orange Muscat
1 medium red beet (1/4 pound), peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
7-8 small firm-ripe pears (3/4 to 1 pound total), peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored

Bring wine, beet, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and bay leaves to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quarts saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Add pears and cover with a round of parchment paper. Simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pears to a bowl. Discard cinnamon stick and bay leaves and pour syrup over pears. Cool completely in syrup, about 30 minutes.

Poached pears can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.