Vanilla Roasted Pears

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/2 pounds slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.

Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.

Roast the pears 30 minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer (if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes of cooking; a paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance).

Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan over ice cream, dolloped with cr?me fra?che, on your morning oatmeal, over slices of gingerbread or so so much more.

Cream Biscuits

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and (if using) sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using two additional tablespoons, or half the unused cream.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.

Kettle Corn

1/4 cup ghee or vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
fine grain sea salt


Heat ghee over medium heat until melted. Add three popcorn kernels, cover with a lid and wait and listen until all three kernels have popped. Add the rest of the popcorn kernels, shake to distribute then sprinkle sugar evenly over the kernels. Cover with lid and listen for popping. As soon as the kernels start to pop, shake pot gently back and forth over the burner, lifting it up and shaking from time to time, until the popping slows to every 2 to 3 seconds. As soon as the popping slows, remove pan from heat and immediately dump kernels into a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt and toss with a wooden spoon. Taste, and add more salt if desired. Serve immediately.