Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TWD - French Pear Tart - Yes!

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, 
to mind your own business 
and to work with your hands, 
just as we told you, 
so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders 
and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Well now I'm trying to get life back to normal, and that includes Tuesday with Dorie. Now that doesn't mean that it won't sometimes mean Thursday with Dorie, but that's normal, isn't it.

Today it's Pear Tart. I love pear tarts, and this one looks absolutely terrific. I'm also looking to make a Russian roast chicken, stuffed with a dressing of bread crumbs and raisins. But of coarse everything is on the slate, but not done yet.

I'll be back.

Well after Heidi picked up Emily and Christian, I sat about just a bit. But by six I was in the kitchen getting the dressing made for the roasted chicken. By six thirty I had the bird in the oven. The recipe for the chicken was Russian, so I decided to make a Russian peas and carrot dish. I didn't follow the complicated recipe, and I left out the chives, ham, and dill, but it tasted really good. The recipe called for julienning the carrots and then cooking them for 40 minutes. No way. You'd just get horrid mushy carrots. So here's how I did it.

Russian Peas and Carrots

8 oz carrots, in 2 inch long julienned strips
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons sugar
water to barely cover the carrots
a pinch of salt

6 oz frozen peas in a microwavable dish
some water in the dish, not to cover

1 tbl flour
salt and pepper to taste

Put the carrots into a frying pan with a lid.
Add the next 4 ingredients and cover and cook on medium heat until the carrots are just au dent.
Meanwhile, put the peas in the microwave and heat about 2 minutes.
Strain the liquid off the carrots into a small saucepan.
Strain the liquid from the peas into a small dish to reserve and put the peas in with the carrots.
Heat the carrot liquid and stir in the flour, adding enough of the peas liquid to make a nice sauce.
Pour the sauce over the vegies, and keep warm until time to serve. Covering the pan will probably suffice.

Russian Roast Chicken Dressing

2 cups bread crumbs
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup half and half
2 tbls butter, melted
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
salt to taste

Mix the crumbs and the half and half and let sit about 10 minutes.
Stir in everything else, and stuff into the bird without smashing the dressing.
When the bird is done, remove the dressing to a serving dish.

So once dinner was under control, I made the pear tart.  When I opened up my can of pear halves, I found out the the company was quite loose in their definition of "halves".  They looked more like quarters.  Upon further inspection I saw that they called them "pear slices".  So with that being my pears, I decided to apply the pears to the tart in thin slices, which is how I do it with my pear tart recipe.

I made Dorie's sweet pie dough recipe, but I divided it in half, and used a half for the tart, as I'm partial to a thin crust.  To make the dough I put the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor and gave it a whirl. Then I cut up the butter and add it and whirled it until it looked like cornmeal. Then I added the egg yolk and mixed it until well mixed in, but all was still powdery looking. Then I dump it all out into a large bowl, and using my hand I smushed it until it all came together. I then weighed the dough, divided it into two parts, and wrapped each part into plastic wrap, forming tidy discs. These were placed in the refrigerator while I made the almond cream.

And to make the cream I put the nuts, flour and cornflour into the food processor and ground up the nuts.  Then in a mixing bowl (the one I used for the dough) I put the butter and sugar and mixed until it started to look a bit fluffy.  Then I added the egg and brandy (instead of rum), and mixed well.  Then I stirred in the nut mixture.  It was all nice and smooth.  Then I dredged a disc of dough in flour rolled out the crust and put it into a tart dish, smoothed on the almond cream, and then cut and placed the pears on top.  I then baked it for about 45 minutes (I think).  I thought it turned out great, but now I'm going to go and have a piece of it to see if it really did turn out all right.

Well everyone thought that this was a terrific pear tart. I believe "Wow!" was the most common expression used. My husband had two pieces. Oh, and I forgot to mention - this weeks recipe was chosen by none other than Dorie Greenspan herself. In looking at the pictures of the TWDers pear tarts I find that the all look fabulous and they are all really pleased with this recipe. It always amazes me how one recipe can turn out looking so many different ways.

"I never said most of the things I said."    Yogi Berra

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An English New Year's Day family dinner with Family

Our New Years Eve event had gone rather oddly the night before. Hard to explain. It wasn't until round eleven that we actually began to play games. We have a long standing tradition of playing games on New Year's Eve. We did have fun, but then it ended abruptly when Sarah and Zac said they needed to get home before mid-night. Then the rest of us just settled into whatever. I was on the computer, minding my own business, when it got really noisy outside. I simply wondered what all the noise was about, and it didn't occur to me until well after the noise stopped that it was the noise of mid-night. All the rest of us were the same - we just simply missed it.

But the next day, New Year's Day, I would need to be a bit more together than I had been the night before. I think being snowed in was starting to get to me. But now there was no snow at the moment. I know this, because Ken and Marilyn came to dinner, and there is absolutely NOTHING that could entice Ken Yeaton to drive in the snow. Not even the least bit of it.

One thing that I really like to have done before guests arrive is to have the table set. I had been trying all day to count the number of guests, and I was quite certain that it was 12, and the table was set accordingly. It looked really lovely. I can't remember who did it, but I think possible it was Corey. But I'm not sure. But to my great surprise, when we all went to sit down for dinner there simply were not enough places for everyone. It took me about a minute to catch on to this conundrum. To my great shock there was 15 of us counting Caleb. I absolutely don't know how I got it so wrong. I'm usually very good at counting.

The guest list: Riley, Molly, Sarah, Zac, Ken, Marilyn, Grandma, Grandpa, Caleb, Christian, Emily, Annie, Nancy, Clarice, Corey

But what I did have right was how much food to feed the group. I had purchased a great big pot roast at Costco, and I simply cooked the whole thing. It seemed the just the right thing for a proper English feast. I also made two desserts. The grateful pudding was made to fit the large pudding steamer, and I believe I made the apple pie in the 12 inch pie plate.

Pot Roast with gravy
roasted veggies
French bread
Yorkshire pudding

Grateful Pudding with Lemon Sauce
Apple Pie

Emily was determined that we should have flowers on the table. For some reason Emily is excessively fond of flowers, which I think is wonderful. The other day she and I were at Trader Joes, and she was thrilled to discover the flower department, and she immediately grabbed up a bunch of daffodils and a bunch of red roses to place into the basket she was pushing around. I soon realized that the flowers would not survive if I were to manage to remove them from her grasp, so we went home with two lovely bunches of flowers.

Well dinner was actually ready in a timely fashion. I'm sure it was served later that I had originally estimated, but I think was actually sat down to eat at around 6:30 - which is a very early time for me to have a dinner ready. It didn't take like to sort out the seating. I think that Riley and I sat together at one end of the table, and Christian and Emily sat together at the other end of the table. It is our fantasy to one day have a table that can easily seat maybe 16 people. But so far the one we've found that would fill the bill costs about $4,500 - a bit much for now. Not to mention that maybe the dinning room isn't big enough - 14x17.

It was a lovely meal enjoyed by all - except maybe Corey, who can't eat beef. It doesn't seem to agree with her. My Dad especially appreciated the apple pie. I made a second smaller one just for him to take home. It was unbaked, so that was it would be perfect when he got around to eating it. Later, when he cooked it, he called me up to thank me again. He does love apple pie. I had made grateful pudding a couple weeks earlier, but the girls were upset that there wasn't enough. So that's why I made it on New Year's Day.

After dinner some Christmas presents were opened. This was in part because Sarah and Zac weren't around for Christmas. But I'm so bad about wrapping presents, that only Caleb got some presents.

“Continuous effort 
- not strength or intelligence 
- is the key to unlocking our potential” 
Winston Churchill