Sheet Pan Stuffing with Chestnuts and Cramberries

6 tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 ribs celery, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
7 ounces vacuum-packed shelled, roasted chestnuts, cut or broken into chunks
8 ounces challah bread (half a store-bought loaf), cut into 1-inch cubes and air-dried (see headnote)
One 8-inch square corn bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and dried (see not)
2 teaspoons dried sage, crumbled between your fingers
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large Bartlett pear, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (not peeled)
1-2cupdried cranberries, some coarsely chopped
1-2cuppacked chopped curly parsley
1 3/4 cupsvegetable broth, preferably no-salt-added, or more as needed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Position racks in the upper and lower parts of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Have one or two rimmed baking sheets at hand.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, stir in the celery and chestnuts. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the dried cubes of challah and corn bread. Season with the sage, herbes de Provence, paprika and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper, tossing to coat evenly. The mixture should be fragrant.

Transfer to a bowl; add the pear, dried cranberries, parsley and broth, stirring to coat evenly. Add more broth if the mixture seems quite dry. For a moister stuffing, mound all the mixture on a single pan, gently pressing it together. Dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, portioned or cut into small pieces. For a drier stuffing, divide the mixture between two baking sheets, and then dot with the remaining butter.

Roast (upper rack for single pan; upper and lower racks for 2 pans) for about 25 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. If you are using two baking sheets, you may want to rotate the from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.

Transfer to a serving bowl; serve warm, drizzled with some oil.

MAKE AHEAD: Dry out the cubes of challah and corn bread by spreading them on a rimmed baking sheet and leaving them to air-dry for a day or so, or bake in a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them cool in there.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish

12 ounces fresh cranberries (3 cups)
1/3 cup honey, or to taste
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Place cranberries and honey in a food processor. Pulse until chopped (but not too finely), then taste and stir in more honey if needed. At this point, the relish can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving. If the liquid separates, give it a stir.

Stir pistachios and pomegranate seeds into cranberry mixture and serve.

Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon and Brown Sugar

3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, pricked with a fork (10 to 12 sweet potatoes)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 to 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon or orange juice
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Large pinch of ground cloves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap potatoes in foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let rest until cool enough to handle but still warm, then remove the foil and peel off the skins.

Add sweet potatoes to a food processor, along with butter, brown sugar, bourbon or juice, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. Purée until smooth. (Or, for a chunkier texture, mash them by hand.) Taste and add salt, sugar or both if you like. Serve while still warm or reheat before serving.

Tip
This recipe can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat just before serving, either in the microwave or in a pot on the stove over low heat.

Duck Fat Potatoes

3 pounds baby or small potatoes, halved if large
1/4 cup duck (or chicken) fat, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

Heat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the potatoes, duck fat, salt and pepper. Lay thyme sprigs and bay leaves on top.

Roast for 30 minutes, then toss the garlic into the potatoes and reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Continue to roast until potatoes are fork-tender, another 15 to 25 minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaves and serve, or let cool for up to an hour then reheat, uncovered, at 350 degrees just before serving.

Brioche Chestnut Stuffing

1 (14- to 16-ounce) brioche loaf, torn into 1-inch pieces
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for the pan
1 large onion, diced
2 large celery ribs, thinly sliced
1/2 cup diced fennel (about 1/2 small fennel bulb)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
5 ounces roasted, peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Arrange brioche pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let them dry out overnight, or place them in a 200-degree oven for an hour or two. (They’ll be ready when they feel stale to the touch but haven’t taken on any color.)

Heat oven to 375 degrees, and butter a shallow, 2-quart casserole or gratin dish.

On a pot on the stove or in the microwave, melt 4 tablespoons butter.

Put bread in the prepared baking dish and toss with melted butter. Bake until golden and toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Let cool, then transfer toast to a large bowl. (Don’t wash the baking dish; you’ll use it again for the stuffing.)

In a 12-inch skillet, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in onion, celery, fennel and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook until soft and just starting to brown, about 12 minutes.

Stir in thyme and sage, and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and transfer to bowl with brioche. Gently fold in chestnuts and pepper and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups stock, eggs, parsley and remaining 1 teaspoon salt.

Fold gently into bread mixture, then scrape it all back into prepared baking dish.

Drizzle on remaining 1 cup stock until the mixture is moist but not squishy; you may not need all the stock.

Cover dish with foil and bake until lightly springy, about 25 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, another 20 to 30 minutes.

Colicchio’s Dinner Rolls

Dough:
3/4 cup warm milk about 110F
1 tsp instant or dry active yeast
1 tsp Barley malt or 2/3 tsp molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp coarse Kosher salt, or 1 tsp fine table salt *reduce if using salted butter
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter softened

Topping:
Melted butter for brushing
Finishing Salt such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon’s

Stir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to milk mixture along with softened butter and stir with a wooden spoon or mix with mixer until a dough forms. Knead 5-6 minutes, adding additional flour as needed, to produce a smooth, moist dough.

Remove to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 – 3 hours. *Trust your eyes here and not the clock. You will want to let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, however long that takes. I find it helpful to rise in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, so it’s easy to see when it has doubled.

Punch down dough and let rise again until doubled again, about 2 hours (or until doubled in size).

Meanwhile, melt a bit of butter and brush on a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

Remove dough to a floured surface and divide into 8-10 equal sized pieces. Form pieces into balls and place into the buttered 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (4 or 5 rows of two rolls, spaced evenly in the pan).

Cover pan with a clean tea towel and let rise until puffy and about doubled, about 2 hours more.

Preheat oven to 350F. When rolls are risen, brush with melted butter and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden.

Remove from oven. Let stand a minute, then remove from pan to a cooling rack.

Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle tops with finishing salt.

Remove from pan and serve warm.

Apple Pandowdy

1 roll puff pastry thawed

Filling:
5-6 large apples cooking/pie apples, peeled and cored
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp water
6 Tbsp white sugar
6 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Topping:
2 Tbsp white or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 425F.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to low to keep warm.

Grease an 8-inch round skillet, pan, pie plate (or equivalent sized) pan. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

Peel and core apples, then thinly slice. Add to prepared baking pan, filling the pan about 2/3-3/4 full.

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut thawed puff pastry into irregular, 1-inch-ish shapes. Scatter about 1/3 of the pastry pieces randomly over top of apples. Slowly pour the sugar mixture over-top, pouring all around the pan to make sure the filling reaches all parts of the pan. Pour slowly so it drips down into the apples and not over the side.

Place the remaining pastry pieces on top, overlapping, as necessary and leaving a few small open spots (to allow steam to escape). Sprinkle a bit of sugar on to the top of pastry.

Place into preheated oven (on baking sheet to catch overflowing juices!) and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350F and continue baking for an addition 35-40 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden brown and puffy. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

Lovely served with a dusting of icing sugar and a scoop of ice cream.

Maple-Cider Vinegar Roasted Carrots

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound medium carrots with green tops, scrubbed well, 2 tablespoons of the greens chopped and reserved for garnish
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped roasted cashews

Preheat the oven to 375°.

In a large heatproof skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the carrots, salt and pepper and cook until browned all over, turning occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and add the vinegar and maple syrup. Shake the skillet to coat the carrots.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, until ?the carrots are just tender but still crisp in the center.

Transfer to a platter, top with the cashews and carrot greens and serve.

Roasted Kabocha with Maple Syrup and Ginger

3 pounds kabocha squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
6 thyme sprigs, plus thyme leaves for garnish
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash wedges with the maple syrup, olive oil, ginger, thyme sprigs and salt. Arrange the squash in a single layer and roast for 15 minutes. Flip and roast for 15 minutes longer, until golden and tender. Discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the squash to a serving platter and garnish with thyme leaves.

The squash can be made up to 6 hours ahead.

Maple Baked Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes (3 pounds), peeled and sliced 1-1/2 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potato slices with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.

Arrange the sweet potatoes in a large gratin dish. Season with the salt and pepper, then dot with the butter pieces. Drizzle the maple syrup over the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with the water and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the sweet potatoes over and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until they’re tender and lightly browned. If necessary, broil the sweet potatoes for a minute or two before serving.

Roasted Cauliflower, Paneer, and Lentil Salad

For the salad:
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup black lentils
1 small head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
1 10-ounce block paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups total)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

For the cilantro-oil dressing:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup tightly packed, fresh cilantro leaves
1 Serrano chile, seeded, if desired
Juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and pick out any stones or imperfect beans. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 25 to 60 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how old the lentils are, so check them every 5 minutes after the first half hour. When they have reached desired doneness, drain through a fine-mesh strainer and set on a clean kitchen towel to absorb any remaining liquid.

While the lentils are cooking, roast the cauliflower and paneer: Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and transfer to a roasting or sheet pan. Add the paneer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil, mixing to coat evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the florets and paneer are crispy on the outside and feel tender when pierced with a skewer or knife, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse at medium-high speed until smooth and paste-like.

When the cauliflower and paneer are done, transfer to a large bowl and gently stir in the drained lentils and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Drizzle with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of the dressing, to taste, and serve warm or at room temperature. (Store the leftover salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four days. Shake the dressing before using.)

Broiled Potatoes with Lemon and Halloumi

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound (450g) Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice, from about 1 lemon, plus zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces (225g) halloumi cheese, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Preheat broiler and set top oven rack about 6 inches from broiler element. Add olive oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and spread evenly all over.

Add potatoes, shingling the slices around the pan in a single circular layer. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil until the potatoes have puffed up slightly, mostly cooked through, and browned on top, about 7 minutes.

Pour lemon juice all over potatoes and sprinkle zest on top. Add halloumi cheese in an even layer on top and broil until cheese is golden brown all over and potatoes are fully cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Sprinkle oregano on top and serve.

Flatbread with Apple, Cheddar, and Arugula

Flatbread Dough: (makes four 5×14-inch flatbreads)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp. dry active or instant yeast
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Toppings: (for one 5×14-inch flatbread – increase as necessary)
1 cup grated or crumbled aged white cheddar
1/4 cup cooked diced pancetta or bacon
1/4 – 1/3 of a large apple cored and very thinly sliced (no need to peel) or pear
Handful of fresh baby arugula

In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and salt.

In a two-cup glass measure, combine warm water, yeast and honey. Let stand 5-10 minutes.

Add proofed yeast mixture and olive oil to bowl with flour and salt. Stir into a smooth dough, adding a few more tablespoons of flour, if necessary to make a smooth, moist (but not sticky) dough.

Place into a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F. with racks in upper third and lower third of oven. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove risen dough to a well-floured surface. Cut dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Your flatbread can be any size or shape. If making oblong ones, just be sure they aren’t longer than the length of your baking sheet, so it doesn’t hang over the edge. Somewhere around 5-inches wide to 14-inches long works well.

Place two flatbreads side-by-side onto each baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes to rest.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 5 minutes, then switch baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.

*If you have some large bubbles, poke them several times with the point of a sharp knife. Bake another 5-7 minutes, until firm and starting to turn golden in spots.

*Don’t over-brown if you intend to re-bake flatbreads with toppings later on, to avoid over-browning when you bake the second time with toppings.

Remove flatbreads to a cooling rack to cool. (If making cheddar-apple flatbreads immediately, leave oven on and set to 400° and keep baking sheets with parchment handy to re-use)

Once flatbread have cooled a bit, top with cheddar and cooked pancetta/bacon. A little freshly ground black pepper, is nice here.

Arrange thinly sliced apples overtop.

Return to parchment-lined baking sheet and pop back in to the oven for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden and apples have softened. Allow to cool slightly, then top with fresh arugula. Cut into triangles for serving.

Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated cored peeled apple
2 Tbsp chopped fresh green onion or parsley (optional)
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425° F.

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces. Stir in Cheddar, apple and green onions. Using a fork, stir in milk to form a ragged dough.

Drop by 1/4 cup mounds, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheet. Bake in 425° oven until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

Caramel Apple Pudding Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar packed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup thinly sliced apples

Sauce:
1 cup brown sugar packed
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups boiling waterh
1 Tbsp butter softened
2 tsp vanilla
Generous pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make the pudding batter: In a medium bowl, mix together the the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In a small bowl, mix together the milk, melted butter and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine well.

Spread batter in to the bottom of an 8-cup baking dish or divide between 4-6 individual baking dishes. (*If using individual dishes, you may want to place dishes on a baking sheet, for easy transport to the oven, and to catch any splatters.)

Arrange a layer of apple slices on top of batter.

Prepare the sauce: In a medium bowl or a 4 cup measuring cup, mix together the brown sugar and flour. Add the boiling water, the butter,vanilla and salt. Stir to combine and until butter melts. Gently pour over batter, being sure to leave 3/4-1 inch of room at the top of the baking dish.

Bake in pre-heated 350° oven for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick in centre comes out clean when inserted in the top cake part. Pudding will have formed a cake-like top with lots of sauce underneath. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy warm. Lovely as is, or top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crumble Cake

For the cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (200g)
3/4 cup white sugar (150g)
1 tsp baking powder
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into 6-8 pieces (100g)
3 medium apples peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream, table cream (18%) or half and half cream (10%), 35% (200g)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (120g)
1/2 cup brown sugar (100g)
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

For the crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (120g)
2/3 cup white sugar (140g)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
5 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (80g)

Preheat oven to 355° F. / 180° C. and grease an 8-inch /2 0 cm springform pan. Set on a baking sheet and set aside. *Note: if you are using a dark springform pan, reduce temperature to 340F / 170C.

Make the cake: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar and baking powder. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is combined with the flour. You’ll end up with a very dry mixture, like sand almost.
Sprinkle about 3/4 of this mixture over the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Don’t press it down at all, but move it around a bit so it goes up the sides just a bit. Scatter the prepared apple slices over the crumbs (avoiding the sides), then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top. Again, do not press down. Leave it as is. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

When cake base has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and carefully pour the egg mixture over the top. Return cake to oven and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add melted butter to the mixture, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture comes together in large clumps. Place the bowl into the freezer until needed.

When the cake has baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven. (The egg mixture should have set somewhat so that the crumbs won’t sink into the cake. If it is too liquidy still, return to the oven for a few more minutes.) Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top. Return to the oven and bake a further 20 – 25 minutes or until the edges are starting to become golden and pull away from the edge and the center is set. As long as it’s not too jiggly and a tester inserted in the centre comes out with just crumbs (not liquid), it’s ready to take out of the oven. It should have bake about 60-65 total, including all 3 steps.

Allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Allow to cool more before removing from the base.

Dust with powdered/icing sugar, if desired.

Apple Almond Cake

Dough:
2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
1 tsp rum optional
3 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup ground almonds or almond flour
1 cup + 6 Tbsp all purpose flour

For the topping:
3 medium apples
1/3 cup sliced almonds

For garnish:
Icing/confectioners’ sugar

Grease a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla, a pinch of salt and a few drops of rum, if using. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the baking powder, ground almonds and flour and mix until well combined.

Spoon batter into the prepared springform pan and spread level.
Peel apples and cut into quarters. Cut out the core from each quarter and discard. Delete the core. Using a sharp knife, cut 4 deep slices into each quarter, cutting almost, but not all the way through. Press sliced apple quarters into the top of the batter, placing about 8 around the outside and 3 in the middle. Sprinkle sliced almonds evenly over the top.
Bake for about 60 – 70 minutes, or until the center cake tests clean with a cake tester min.

Cool the cake, the sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

French Pear Cake with Creme Fraiche

For cake batter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup sour cream

For filling:
3 pears ripe but still firm, peeled or unpeeled, halved and cored

For topping:
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup flaked almonds optional

For serving:
Crème Fraîche, whipped cream, or ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. with rack in centre of oven. Prepare a 10-inch springform pan by spraying with baking spray and lining the bottom ring with parchment paper. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Prepare the pears: You can peel the pears if you like, or simply leave the peel on. Cut in half down from the stem end to the bottom. Scoop out the core with a spoon and remove the stem spine and bottom blossom end. Place cut side down on a cutting board and cut each half in to 1/4-inch-ish slices. Transfer the sliced halves to the prepared baking pan, cut side down, fanning out the slices slightly. Arrange the sliced halves in a ring around the outside of the pan. The sliced halves should just touch each other in the centre and fan out slightly towards the outside edges. The centre couple of inches should be empty. You may or may not need all your pears. Simply fill until it’s filled around. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric beater or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the 1 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
Spoon the batter in to the centre of the prepared pan. Using a knife, gently spread the batter in to a thin layer out to the outside edges of the pan. It will seem very thin and barely cover the pears. Scatter the flaked almonds over the centre area of the batter. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with the 1/4 cup white sugar.

Bake in preheated oven until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.

Let the cake cool 5-10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the outside and remove the outer ring. Allow to cool a bit more, then slice and enjoy warm with a dollop of Crème Fraîche.

Avgolemono (Chicken Soup with Rice)

4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked white rice, warmed
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from the bones and coarsely shredded (1 pound)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

In a large saucepan, season the stock with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Transfer 1 cup of the hot stock to a blender.

Add 1/2 cup of the rice, the egg yolks and the lemon juice and puree until smooth.

Stir the puree into the simmering stock along with the chicken and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rice and simmer until thickened slightly, 10 minutes.
Stir in the dill and serve.

Napa Cabbage with Hot Bacon Dressing

1 Napa cabbage, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (you’ll need 6 to 8 cups)
8 thick slices bacon, cut into 1/ 4-inch lardons
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons red wine or cider vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl.

Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and set over medium heat. Render the bacon fat and brown the bacon, adjusting the heat as needed. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towel, then pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat (approximate, don’t measure) from the pan.

Set the pan over medium low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Season with the salt.

Gradually – and slowly! – whisk this mixture into the egg. Sprinkle the bacon on the cabbage, then pour 3/4 of the dressing over the cabbage and toss to mix.

Add more dressing as desired. Serve with grilled pork chops, roasted potatoes and beer.