Monday, December 31, 2012

Apple Cider Poached Pears at Midnight

A few weeks ago when it was my turn for dinner, all I could come up with for Friday night was sweet potatoes.  I'd been wanting to try hasselback potatoes, if I could manage to make all those thin cuts without slicing all the way through, and had an idea for an oat crumble topping to sprinkle over them.

And for dessert, pears poached in apple cider spiked with a cinnamon stick and some whole cloves.

Potatoes and pears aren't exactly a well-rounded dinner, but I was out of fresh ideas, so Jamie suggested Cornish game hens.  While I worked on the potatoes, he rubbed the hens with butter, herbs and spices, and after roasting, the skin was crisp and crackly with a nice salty crust.

After we finished dinner and picked out a movie to watch, I started the pears simmering, having no idea just how long it takes to poach a pear.  What I thought might take 30 minutes to an hour took over three hours, since they need to be simmered gently, low and slow.

Much later that evening, almost midnight, after their steamy apple cider bath, the pears were steeped with cinnamon, cloves and apple cider goodness.  A scoop of caramel ice cream on the side, with the apple cider syrup drizzled over it, made them even better.  All you need, is a little patience...


Cornish Game Hens
printable recipe
  • 4 Cornish Game Hens
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • handful of sage leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350.

Stuff the onion, 1 garlic clove, and a few sage leaves inside each chicken.  Truss the chicken so the legs are tied together and the wings are snug against the body.  Dice the remaining 4 cloves garlic and stuff under the skin of the breast, along with the butter and a little more sage.  Season the chickens generously with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the paprika and thyme.  A few lemon wedges inside the chickens and a sprinkling of something spicy, like cayenne, would be a nice touch, too.

Place on a wire rack set on a roasting pan.  Roast the chickens until an instant read thermometer reads 160F, which may take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the chickens.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Oat Pecan Crumble
printable recipe

  • 4 small-medium sweet potatoes or 2 large
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

Preheat the oven to 350.  Peel the sweet potatoes.  With a sharp knife, very carefully slice 1/8 inch slices into the potatoes, stopping three-fourths of the way down so that the slices are held together by the uncut base of the potato.  Rub potatoes all over with the olive oil, in between the slits also.  Combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt, and rub the spice mixture all over the potatoes.  Wrap potatoes in foil.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a fork.

Raise the temperature of the oven to 400.  Remove the foil from the potatoes and place on a baking sheet, cut side up.  In a bowl, combine the crumble topping ingredients with a pastry cutter or fork until coarse and crumbly.  Sprinkle over the potatoes.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Apple Cider Poached Pears
printable recipe
  • 4-5 cups apple cider
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 whole firm pears
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Nutmeg for grating

In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, orange juice, cloves, cinnamon stick, brown sugar and salt.  Bring to a gentle simmer over medium low heat.

Peel the pears, leaving the stems attached.  Gently lower the pears into the simmering liquid.  Add more cider, if needed, so the pears are submerged.  Cover and simmer gently for 3-4 hours until the pears are tender, but not mushy.  When the pears are done, remove from the liquid with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to create a slurry; add to the saucepan.  Bring the cider mixture to a boil over medium heat and boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the butter.

Place the pears on serving dishes and pour the warm syrup over each.  Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and serve with ice cream.

Yields 4 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen