Saturday, January 2, 2010

Latest round of kitchen adventures -- I have a giant bag of pears from Trader Joe's edition

1)Sort of made up (it's a loose riff on something Martha Stewart did years ago): lamb shoulder chops, which I made on New Year's Eve for the senior Pnins.

Mash up half a stick of butter; several tablespoonfuls of mustard; dried tarragon; dill; and a little thyme in the food processor. Mashing with a potato masher or fork will do if you don't have a food processor. Smear butter/mustard mixture on shoulder chops. Add salt, if desired. Roast in oven at 30 minutes (or however long your butcher tells you; obviously, things will vary according to size and thickness.)

Verdict: went over well with Pnin and the senior Pnins, who are visiting for a few days.

2)Cooks Illustrated pear salad. The original calls for walnuts, but Pnin doesn't eat them. It's fine without, in my view...

2 pears (red, preferably), ripe but firm, halved, cored and cut into 12 wedges
3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 1/2 quarts arugula , stemmed, rinsed, and dried
3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese , crumbled [I used Stilton -- it's quite good with it]

a. Toss pear wedges with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in medium bowl; set aside.

b. In small bowl, slowly whisk oils into 2 remaining tablespoons lemon juice to make vinaigrette; season to taste with salt and pepper.

c. Toss arugula with vinaigrette. Place a portion of dressed greens on each plate. Arrange pears over greens, sprinkle with cheese and a generous grind of pepper. Serve immediately.

Verdict: excellent! Both Pnin and senior Pnins appreciated.

3)Smitten Kitchen pear bread. I did not include any vanilla because I had already used a half bottle of vanilla in the cranberry cake mentioned a few posts ago. Probably a slight loss. But it was easy and came out well.

4)Bittersweet chocolate and pear cake. We haven't tasted yet -- it's for a friend of Pnin's who's visiting family in D.C. for the holiday -- but I'm guardedly optimistic. I was a bit weirded out by the instruction to beat non-separated eggs together for such a long time. I was also using a hand mixer, which may have thrown off the stirring time. And you kind of need a second person to stir the browning butter while another is whipping the eggs -- unless, of course, you have a stand mixer.

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