Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

There are some people with whom a connection is felt.  I have had an off-again, on-again relationship with most campus ministry teams since I was in college, sometimes feeling as though they are trying to hard, sometimes feeling they are not trying hard enough.  It’s resulted in participation at different levels on the various campuses where I have lived and worked.  With my current chaplain, I have continued to develop a relationship with her over the past seven years, and have enjoyed the ways in which my faith and spirituality has been strengthened through this relationship.  Recently, with a number of things happening in her life, I was compelled to make some soup and bring it to her house.  Knowing that she eats a primarily vegetarian or vegan diet, I knew that this recipe from the Small Victories cookbook was the soup I wanted to bring to her house.  I took a quick taste of it and think it was a delightful (and not super challenging) soup dish to bring over and share with them to have in the immediate, or tucked away in the freezer for a time when they were ready for it.

Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Pear Soup

4 red bell peppers, halved, cored, seeded, and deribbed
3 Tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 russet potato, peeled and roughly diced
2 semifirm pears, peeled, cored, and roughly diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Set your oven rack so it’s 6 inches from the broiler and preheat your broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Put the bell pepper halves skin-side up on the prepared baking sheet and broil, turning the baking sheet so they broil evenly, until the skins are completely blackened, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler.  Immediately transfer the pepper halves to a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to trap the steam (which will help the skins to peel off).  Let the peppers sit until they’re cool enough to handle.  Rub off and discard the charred skins under running water.  Roughly chop the roasted, peeled peppers, and set them aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and thyme and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring now and then, until the vegetables are softened but haven’t taken on any color, about 15 minutes.

Add the roasted red peppers, along with the diced potato and pears, to the pot.  Give everything another sprinkle of salt and pepper and then add the stock.  Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Then turn the heat to low and let the soup simmer until the potatoes can be easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15-20 minutes.

Fish out and discard the thyme stems (most of the thyme leaves will have fallen off into the soup, which is okay).  Puree the soup with an immersion blender or with a regular blender.

Start with low speed and slowly work your way up to high to completely puree the soup.  Transfer the blended soup to a clean pot and reheat.


Apple Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

I was looking through the Apple Lover’s Cookbook and came across this unique cobbler recipe.  I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving, but my mom decided to bring apple pie.  So, instead I made it for the night before Thanksgiving.  Might as well kick-off the holiday season with lots of desserts, right?  The cobbler had a nice mix of sweet, but not-too-sweet flavors to it.  The lemon-cornmeal biscuits on top were a great way to temper the sweetness.  Unlike some other cobblers that make a 8-inch square pan, this made a large cobbler and I was eating it all weekend long.  I warmed it and added a scoop of caramel ice cream to teh top, and that was a great combination.

Apple Pear Cobbler with Lemon Cornmeal Biscuits

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

2 1/2 lbs firm-tart apples
1 1/2 lbs ripe pears
1/3 c granulated sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 Tbsp chilled salted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
3 Tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c plus 2 Tbsp chilled heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and set a rack to the middle position.  Peel and core the apples and pears.  Cut the apples into 1/4 inch slices and the pears into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Put in a Dutch oven.  Add the sugar, lemon juice, flour, and butter, and toss to combine.  Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Can stop and refrigerate at this point overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, the 3 Tbsp sugar, the baking powder, salt, and the lemon zest.  Sprinkle the butter on top and use fingers to work it in, forming thin flakes.  When the dough begins to look like cornmeal, add the 1 cup cream and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together.  Gently pat out on a well-floured surface to a 3/4 inch thickness.  Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass with a 2-3 inch diameter to cut out biscuits, scraping and re-rolling the dough as needed.  Chill the biscuits in the refrigerator while the fruit finishes the first round of cooking.

Remove the fruit mixture from the oven and give it a quick stir — it should look softer and a little glossy.  Arrange the biscuits on top, overlapping slightly in concentric circles, brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp cream, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tsp sugar.  Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a rack at least 20 minutes, then serve warm.

Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet

Despite my frequent and weekly posting of ice cream, along with a number of other sweets posted over the past few weeks, I have been trying to cut back on my sugar intake over the last several weeks.  As a result, I’ve been looking for some frozen dishes that use less sugar, and this recipe that has a little bit of honey, meets expectations.  The recipe came from the Empowered Sustenance website.  When I go to take a bite, I have to remember that it isn’t going to be sweet.  It’s a bit like when I go to drink hipster water (LaCroix), I need to remember it’s not going to have the sweetness of soda.  Similarly, when I go to drink unsweetened iced tea, it’s not going to taste like Crystal Light.  But, as long as I go in with this mindset, the sorbet tastes like a great ending to a meal.  The rosemary does not come through strongly — it’s a slight undertone to the recipe.

Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet.jpg

Rosemary Infused Pear Sorbet

4 big pears (or 5 small)
1/2 c water
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Peel and cut the pears into small pieces.  Place all the ingredients in a pot over medium-low heat.  Boil 10 minutes, or until the pears are soft.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Remove the rosemary sprig and transfer into a food processor.  Blend for 20 seconds or until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for ice cream.

Vanilla Cardamom Pear Pie

For Thanksgiving, my dad and I decided we were doing the majority of the cooking this year.  Like often happens, my aunt and uncle who live close by came up to my parents house and we had a great time together.  We always end up talking about people in the area and as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate more and more the genealogy aspects we explore, so I appreciate things increasingly.

On Wednesday morning, I realized I’d left the pie crusts at my place, but luckily my parents had anticipated this problem.

Anyhoo, this year we decided to move away from the traditional pumpkin or pecan pies, which, although we love them, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue to move through some other favorite pies.  A few years ago I was on a kick with this pie recipe and realized I don’t have it written down anywhere.  The milk, eggs, chocolate blog has a lot of great recipes, and before the blog goes away, I wanted to make sure the recipe was in my list of recipes.  I decided to make vanilla cardamom pear pie.

Remember how I shared that I forgot the pie crusts?  Well, I also forgot the cardamom, and that’s not a spice my parents keep on hand.  I considered going up to the store to get it, but my commute had increased significantly due to heavy snow in my hometown (8 inches throughout the morning) and the mile to the grocery store just didn’t feel worth it.  So, in this situation, I substituted the cardamom with cinnamon.  Both are great.  The original (modified) recipe is below.

I’ve also made a few adjustments in order to accommodate for ingredients I had.  Check out the pie crust recipe over on the milk, eggs, chocolate blog.  While I didn’t use it this time, it has worked quite well in the past.

Cardamom Pear Pie

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Pear Stuffed Acorn Squash

A couple days ago I talked about the Rosemary Garlic Pork Chops I made a couple months ago for New Recipe Tuesday. To accompany the pork chops, I used some more of the squash we had at the end of the season. We really enjoyed the recipe and I made it again over the holidays when I was home with my family. In gearing up for a Real Food Challenge I am doing with a couple of colleagues throughout the month of January, I am reminded of this recipe, which is about as clean as one can get. The rest of this month will have a few recipes which are reminiscent of the baking I did in preparation for the Christmas holidays, but then I’ll start sharing some of the highlights of our Real Food Challenge.
Right now, this is the recipe for Pear Stuffed Squash, which was originally found on the ZenBelly blog – full of great recipes – and an excellent accompaniment to the pork chops we ate. It also tastes great with turkey, which I determined over the last couple of weeks. I don’t have any pictures other than the hollowed out squash, but if you’re looking for some other photos of the recipe, head over to the original recipe posting. The recipe is for 2 servings, but can easily be adjusted as needed for more individuals.

Pear Stuffed Squashpear stuffed acorn squash
1 acorn squash
1 pear
2 tsp butter
Cut squash in half. Remove seeds and leave open. Carefully and thinly slice pears, removing seeds as you go. Put half of each pear inside the hollowed out squash. Place 1 tsp of butter in each half and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, remove from oven and baste with butter. Roast for an additional 50-75 minutes.