dimanche 28 octobre 2007

Spicy Pear Loaf

The brilliantly funny comedian, Eddie Izzard http://www.eddieizzard.com/, says something like "Pears are gorgeous little beasts but they are ripe for half an hour and you're never there to see it. They are either rocks or they're mush."

I have found this to be true but in fall we stand a good chance of actually having edible pears.

Pears come in a variety of shapes, tastes, colours and textures. The most commonly found varieties at my marché in Paris were: Williams, Comice, Conférence, Anjou and Bosc.

I don't have a preference and tend to choose by what looks best and seems most suited to what I plan to make. This delicious recipe is adapted from “Cake aux poires très épicé”, Saveurs N° 156 Sept. – Oct. 2007.

Spicy Pear Loaf
Makes 1 loaf (23x13 cm/9x5-in)

150 g (125 mL/1 cup) all-purpose flour
50 g (2oz) ground almonds
130 g (125 mL/1 cup) Demerara or light brown sugar
5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) cinnamon
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) ground ginger
5 mL (1 tsp) ground cardamom
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cloves
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) freshly ground nutmeg
2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
115 g (4 oz) butter, melted
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla
3 eggs
2 pears, peeled, core and stem removed, diced

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

In large bowl, blend flour, almonds, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir in melted butter and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold in diced pears. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until loaf springs back when lightly touched in center. Let cool for 10 minutes, loosen sides with knife and remove from pan.

dimanche 21 octobre 2007

Cream of Fennel Soup

Fennel is not a common vegetable in Canadian cooking. It is very versatile and used a lot in Mediterranean cooking - in salads, soups, pasta dishes or on its own as a side dish.
Today was very grey and rainy day so my thoughts have turned to making soup and what better than a cream of fennel soup to combine the idea of sunny southern European countries with the need for a warm meal.

Cream of Fennel Soup

Serves 4-6

60 mL (4 Tbsp) olive oil
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 L (4 cups) chicken stock
125 mL (½ cup) dry white wine
125 mL (½ cup) cream or crème fraîche
10 mL (2 tsp) fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fennel fronds for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Sauté onions and fennel in a frying pan over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a soup pot; add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until fennel is very tender, about 15 minutes.
Purée the soup using a hand blender in the pot or transfer the solids to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade (alternatively into a blender or through a food mill fitted with a medium disk). Add 1 cup of cooking stock and process until smooth. Return purée to pot and add cream or crème fraîche and tarragon; season with pepper. Simmer until heated through. Add shaved Parmesan to the soup, if using, and stir until melted. Sprinkle with fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

dimanche 7 octobre 2007

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Happy Thanksgiving!

This recipe is for my friend Anne. We spent many wonderful Thanksgivings together in Ottawa. We had turkey with all the timmings and made Christmas fruitcakes. One year I made this cheesecake as a change from Pumpkin Pie and it was a bit hit.

In Europe we do not celebrate Thanksgiving but there are many festivals this time of year. The local wineries are in full swing with their harvest. Octoberfest festivities have started.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Makes 10-12 servings

500 mL (2 cups) graham wafer crumbs
150 mL (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
45 mL (3 Tbsp) granulated sugar
Pinch of each cinnamon and nutmeg

500 g (1 lb) cream cheese*, at room temperature
125 mL (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
50 mL (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
6 eggs
500 mL (2 cups) canned or fresh pumpkin purée
5 mL (1 tsp) cinnamon
4 mL (3/4 tsp) nutmeg
1 mL (1/4 tsp) allspice

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)

Mix together wafer crumbs, butter, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Press onto bottom and side of 3 L (10”) spring-form pan. Refrigerate while making filling.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar until light and fluffy; beat in flour. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until barely firm to the touch. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen the cake. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes. Open oven door and leave for 30 minutes longer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Garnish with whipped cream and chopped nuts if desired.

*In France, St Morêt can be used in place of the cream cheese.