Sweet and salty sandwich

Grilled ham and cheese with pears

Plus, it pairs nicely with carrots...see what I did there?

Plus, it pairs nicely with carrots…see what I did there?

If you like things that are sweet and salty, then you’ll love this sandwich.  If you like fruit and cheese paired together, you’ll love this sandwich.  If you like ham, you’ll love this sandwich.  If you’re willing to substitute swiss cheese for gruyere, you’ll feel like a cheapskate, but you’ll still love this sandwich.

It’s quick and easy, too.  The hardest part is waiting for the pears to get ripe enough.  What is it about pears and taking too long to ripen!  sheesh…

And with that, we bid October 2003 adieu.  It’s been real.  Hello November 2007!!!

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Pear and Granola Muffins

Pear and Granola Muffins

http://www.marthastewart.com/317980/pear-and-granola-muffins

October 2003, pg. 35

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“We, I mean YOU, have to make these again!” my husband exclaimed while chewing his second pear and granola muffin in five minutes.  After that statement, Everyday Food’s, ‘Pear and Granola Muffins’ are now in my go-to recipe collection.  I’m a big fan of bringing baked goods to friends’ and families’ houses when we spend a night or two.  Typically I bake some kind of scone or muffin, with the majority of recipes coming from the Martha Stewart collection.  So the pear and granola muffins will fit right in.

I used D’Anjou pears from the grocery store.  I had to wait several days for the pears to ripen, so plan ahead if you want to make these muffins.  I was able to make 15 muffins not a dozen.  There were more than 2 cups of cut fruit from the two pears.  The more fruit the better!  My local Weagman’s grocery store had several choices of bulk granola.  I went with the ‘plainest’ available.  It had a few nuts and was sweetened with honey.  I was very happy with the choice.  Every few bites of the muffin I would taste a cashew, which was a pleasant surprise.  The taste and texture of the muffins were spectacular!  The pears were tender and the amount of cinnamon complemented the fruit wonderfully.

Aesthetically, the muffins looked perfect!  The tops were a beautiful golden brown with chunks of pear, adding topography to the muffins.  I did leave the granola crisp topping off the muffins.  When possible, I cut the down the amount of sugar and salt a recipe calls for.  These two ingredients seem to be in all processed food, so when I have control over putting salt and sugar in food, less is sometimes better.   In this case, just omitting the topping reduced the sugar by ¼ of a cup and wouldn’t impact the overall integrity of the muffins.

Great recipe and I would highly recommend it.  If you plan on making the pear and granola muffins, make sure the fresh fruit is ripe.   I hope you enjoy the muffins as much as my husband and I did!

My, oh my! Pear Custard Pie!!

There are two things you will probably notice while we post about the October 2003 issue.  Number one, it is filled with pears.  Number two, it is filled with desserts.  This post encompasses both of those themes.

Mmm...

Mmm…

The custard pie in this issue gets its flavor from vanilla and pears.  I got a little fancy and used my vanilla sugar (yay!).

It’s a pretty simple recipe.  And the use of the blender is a huge time saver.  The most time consuming part was peeling and artfully arranging the pears in the pie plate.

It smelled so good in the oven it was hard not to just pull it out and start eating it like a soup.  I waited patiently.  I even waited for it to cool a bit.  I did not, however, wait to cover it in powdered sugar.  Who needs powdered sugar when there is custardy goodness waiting to be devoured?! (Have I mentioned that I am a sucker for custards… you’ll learn this about me.)

It was heavenly.  You could taste the eggy smoothness along with the overwhelming (in the best way possible) vanilla and then there was just enough pear to refresh your palette from the richness.  I loved it!

 

So many sides!

The October 2003 issue has so many incredible sides.  This is a summary of the ones I enjoyed the most.

I love mushrooms!

I love mushrooms!

The first I want to discuss is this mushroom ragout.  I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was!  The shallots and thyme are perfect in it.  When making the recipe I did run into one slight mishap… I had bought all the ingredients but failed to notice that it called for a dry red or white wine.  I was fresh out.  What I did have was dry vermouth!  G and I were both unsure about the substitution until I found this extremely helpful discussion on the subject by Smitten Kitchen (she’s so good!).   The vermouth tasted so incredible that I don’t think I’ll even bother with wine the next time I make this and yes, I will be making this again.

Next, I want to tell you about the beauty of braised leeks.

Can you see how silky and luscious that sauce is?

Can you see how silky and luscious that sauce is?

I love leeks, but I have never braised them.  They are incredible as the base of a chicken (along with some carrots) and they are awesome in a Vichyssoise soup (potato leek soup for those of you without the Joy of Cooking).  This dish almost combined the two flavors.  You use chicken stock as the braising liquid so it reduces and gets super flavorful.  You add butter at the end so it brings in the richness of the Vichyssoise.  I was literally ready to lick my plate the sauce was so delicious!

Luckily, I served the braised leeks with twice-baked potatoes, so I just used the starchy goodness of my potato to soak it up instead.

A plate full of happy!

A plate full of happy!

It was my first time making twice-baked potatoes so I wouldn’t say the outcome was perfect.  They were a little lumpy and not fluffy and light like the ones I’ve eaten before.  I think I should have used a mixer to do the mashing instead of a potato masher to get the perfect texture.  The flavor, however, was without fault.  Yum!

And finally, that brings me to roasted pears and sweet potatoes.

Going in for the close up!

Going in for the close up!

I cannot say enough good things about the spice mixture on these.  First of all, it’s super simple.  Just ground mustard, ginger, and cayenne.  But it works so wonderfully together and really complements the sweetness of the potatoes and the pears.  This makes a pretty big batch, but we finished the entire thing that night.  We couldn’t keep our hands off it.  If we hadn’t been using forks, I would say it was finger lickin’ good.  Well done, EF!  Well done!

Poached Pears

Poached Pears

http://www.marthastewart.com/341208/poached-pears

October 2003, pg. 32

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My husband and I recently moved to the Rochester, NY area.  One of the first things we noticed that gave western New York brownie points were all of the apple and pear trees along the roadways and trails.  I love apples and my husband, P, loves pears!  Needless to say when my friend, B, asked me to help her with the dessert/baking recipes from the October 2003 issue of Everyday Food, I was inspired to begin with poaching pears.

I did not poach the locally scavenged pears I bring home from the side of the road.  I left those pears to eat when they are perfectly ripe and will savor the taste of a western New York pear.  For my first pear poaching experience, I stuck to the recipe and used Bosc pears.

I decided it would be a great late night snack for P, since he was on-call all day and into the night.  I peeled the pears and mixed the ingredients for the sauce right before we ate dinner.  It was perfect timing to open a bottle of delicious wine (and I do love my wine).  I let the pears simmer on the stove while we ate dinner and drank the rest of the opened bottle of wine.

Side note regarding the wine: I used a Bordeaux, the 2006 Mauvais Garcon (Bad Boy).  My husband bought a bottle this past spring for a special occasion, and we both loved it.  We found our go-to wine store shortly after moving to New York and discovered this wine favorite was on clearance.  So we stocked up…and I don’t feel guilty cooking with a now much cheaper bottle of wine!

The chilled poached pears were a welcomed midnight snack for P and I.  They tasted like a delicious pear pie (without the crust of course)!  The pears were so tender and the red wine sauce was delicious!  I was a little nervous about the ripeness of the pears I chose at the store.  Thankfully, the red wine based sauce masked any lack of ripeness.  The sauce had just enough sugar and I could taste a hint of lemon.  Quite a few of the peppercorns were embedded into the pears.  If I were to serve these pears to company I may make sure none of the peppercorns are stuck between the bottom of the pot and a pear.  Purely aesthetics.

Next time I will have to focus on the thickness of the sauce.  I simmered the pears for over 30 minutes (twice the amount of time the recipe called for) and never saw the outer portion of the pear crisp.  I may have to watch my simmer a little more carefully next time, simmer longer, and/or take the wax paper circle off at some point to let some of the water evaporate and let the sauce thicken.

All-in-all the poached pear recipe was fantastic and I will be using it in the future!  Next baked good in the line-up…..shortbread.