November 27, 2004

Sweet Potatoes and Pears

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Pears
Bon Appetit (November, 1994)

5 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3 inch-thick slices
3/4 cup (or more) pear nectar

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2 - inch glass baking dish. Pierce potatoes in several places with fork. Place on baking sheet; bake until very tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 350 F.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup nectar; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pears are very tender, adding more nectar if mixture sticks to skillet and stirring often, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor and puree.

Peel sweet potatoes; place in large bowl of electric mixer. Add 4 tablespoons butter; beat until smooth. Mix in pear puree, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Bake potatoes uncovered until just heated through, about 20 minutes.

Notes: I'm not a big fan of sweet potatoes but they are a staple, of course, at Thanksgiving. So, I set out to find a recipe that might be a bit different than the popular marshmallow-topped one. Though I was nervous about finding pear nectar (but it turned up in the local Stop'n'Shop), this was my pick. And it proved quite popular - the pears contrasted nicely with the sweet potatoes and made the texture of the dish more appealing to me. Plus, the cardamom and cinnamon gave it a more complex taste.

Posted by Jennifer at 8:48 AM | Comments (1)
November 26, 2004

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Cranberry Apple Chutney
Gourmet (November, 2004)

2 lb Gala apples (about 4)
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 lb fresh or frozen cranberries (2 cups), thawed if frozen

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 400 F. Peel, halve, and core apples, then cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Stir together with remaining ingredients except cranberries in a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish and spread in an even layer.

Roast apple mixture, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Remove dish from oven and stir in cranberries, then continue roasting until cranberries are softened and most of liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Serve chutney warm or at room temperature.

Chutney can be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered.

Notes: Made this one up on Tuesday for the Thursday Thanksgiving feast. We actually ended up with three different cranberry dishes being donated by various attendees. This one proved most popular, and I was complimented on the combination of the tastes of the cranberries and apples and people seemed pleasantly surprised by the little bursts of flavor from the mustard seeds. I'd judge this one a success.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:36 PM | Comments (2)
November 19, 2004

Salmon w/ Mustard Maple Sauce

Salmon with Mustard Maple Sauce
from Gourmet (January 2003)

4 (6- to 7-oz) pieces center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/4 inches thick), skinned
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 cup chopped scallion greens

Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute salmon in 2 batches, starting with skinned sides up and turning over once, until just cooked through, 6 to 9 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and keep warm, covered.

Remove skillet from heat and cool 1 minute. Whisk in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over salmon.

Notes: Came out fine. Though it was a dish lacking in complexity and had a sameness of taste throughout that made it less challenging than some others I've attempted. And the scallions quite overwhelmed the other flavors, so I might put in less of them. The best part was the scraped up salmon bits from the pan that ended up in the sauce and gave it a more interesting texture. Someone recommended adding a dash of lime juice to the sauce and, should I ever make it again, I might try that in an attempt to give it a little more depth.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:33 PM | Comments (3)
November 7, 2004

Apple Pound Cake

Beverly Garland's Buttery Apple Pound Cake
from the Butter is Best site

1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups regular or reduced fat sour cream
1-1/2 cups apples (peeled, thinly sliced)

Toasted Butter Brown Sugar Glaze
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. Cream butter with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Alternate adding sour cream and dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating well after each addition.

Spoon 1/2 of the batter into well-buttered and floured 12-cup bundt pan or 10-inch tube pan. Arrange apple slices on batter. Spoon 1/2 of the brown sugar mixture over apples and press lightly into batter. Spoon remaining batter over apple mixture. Sprinkle top with remaining brown sugar mixture. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes. Gently loosen cake from pan with sharp knife. Invert onto cooling rack. Serve slightly warm if desired.

Directions for Toasted Butter Brown Sugar Glaze:
In small saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until it starts to turn brown. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth Drizzle on cake.

Notes: As it happens, no pecans in the house, so walnuts were used instead. And worked just as well. Also - the cake batter tasted so sweet prior to baking that I opted not to use the glaze. Took the whole cake off to Lou's place because it was his birthday yesterday, where it was much enjoyed by all, based on the fact that there was very little left, and the compliments were frequent. For myself, I was pleased with this particular recipe - the cake was moist, the apple and spice layer made it just unusual enough to stand out.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:08 PM | Comments (1)