Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken, Pears, and Coconut

mulligatawny-soupThis autumn inspired version of Mulligatawny soup is sure to delight. Colorful pears, tender chicken, sweet potatoes, and rich coconut milk star in this adaptation of a classic English soup with Indian origins. The recipe comes together in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner, and the leftovers taste even better. Top the soup with crunchy toasted coconut and bright, fresh cilantro leaves.

2 tablespoon butter, divided
1 pound chicken breast, cut into ½ inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 ½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound sweet potatoes, medium dice
2 firm USA Pears, such as Concorde or Comice, medium dice
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

In a large soup pot over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the diced chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until just cooked through. Transfer chicken to a small bowl. Add the remaining butter to the same pan and saute the onion until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and all three spices and saute for one minute more. Next, add the chicken broth to deglaze the pan, stirring to pick up any browned bits. Add the diced sweet potatoes to the liquid, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 6 – 8 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Add the diced pears and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more. Stir in the coconut milk and season the soup to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary. Divide the soup between bowls and garnish each with the toasted coconut and cilantro.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Pear, Fig, and Salami Salad

pear fig salami salad

This salad of pears, figs, greens, salami, and cheese is full of subtle flavors that celebrate transition from summer to fall in the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy it with simple pork chops cooked on the grill or a lovely fillet of roasted salmon.

¼ cup fresh orange juice (from about half an orange)
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon toasted almond oil
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
4 cups baby arugula, packed
2 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise and sliced into ½ inch strips
10 – 12 fresh figs, halved or quartered
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red Bartlett or Starkrimson, sliced
3 oz. mild salami, cut into ¼ inch cubes (or salami slices, cut into strips)
¼ cup ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

For the dressing: Combine the first four ingredients in a blender. Combine both the oils in a measuring cup and with the blender running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream to emulsify the dressing. Set aside until ready to use.

For the salad: In a large bowl, combine the arugula and sliced endive and toss with about ⅔ of the dressing. Transfer the greens to a platter and place the figs and pears decoratively on and around the greens. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the fruit. Top the salad with the salami, followed by the crumbled cheese.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings

Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar

Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar

My latest recipe is for a simple and delicious pear and pork dish that makes an incredible Sunday dinner. First, sear the pork and sauté the onion. Then add pears, cider, and spices, and transfer to the oven for three hours. This recipe will fill your home with the sweet smells of autumn as it simmers away all afternoon.

Another great reason to make this your Sunday dinner is that this recipe will make for wonderful leftovers. Braised dishes are known for tasting even better several days after they are made. This gives the ingredients more time to come together, and with the addition of just a splash of vinegar, this dish will have the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

I served this braised pork with roasted sweet potatoes and a simple salad of mixed greens, ripe USA pear slices, and crumbled goat cheese. The juicy, fresh pears in the salad made a great contrast to the rich, roasted pears in the main dish.

1 (3-pound) hunk of pork shoulder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium sweet onion, large dice
3 USA Pears, such as Red Bartlett or Red Anjou, large dice
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 (12-ounce) bottle pear hard cider
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. On the stovetop, warm a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. While the pot warms, season your pork shoulder on all surfaces with the salt and cracked pepper. Add the butter to the pot and when it is fully melted and begins to bubble, place the pork in the pot on one side and sear for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is medium brown. Once brown, turn the pork to a second side and continue until the meat is nicely browned on the second side. Remove the pork from the pan with tongs and set aside on a plate.

Into the same pan, add the onions and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until they have begun to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan a bit. Pour in the cider and stir to bring up any tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan, placing it right down into the center of the liquid with the fattiest side up (this will help keep it moist as it cooks). Be sure to pour in any juices that have accumulated on the plate as well.

Braised Pork process shot

Next, slide in the diced pears around the sides of the pan, and add the cloves and cinnamon sticks, nestling them down into the pears. Lastly, pour over the chicken broth so that the liquid comes up the sides of the meat ¾ of the way—add more broth if necessary. Cover the pot and increase the heat to high, bringing the liquids to a strong simmer. Once the liquid has simmered, carefully transfer the covered pot to your preheated oven.

Braise the pork and pears for three hours, checking on the pork at each hour mark and spooning some of the delicious sauce over the top each time. After three hours, remove the pot from the oven.

Carefully remove the pork from the sauce and place into a serving dish. Return the pot to the stovetop over medium-high heat and simmer, uncovered, to reduce the sauce to about two cups (this step may not be necessary if your sauce has already reduced sufficiently). Once the sauce has reduced, stir in the sherry vinegar and taste. There should be a nice balance of sweet from the pear and onion and tanginess/brightness from the vinegar. Add more vinegar if necessary. Pour the warm sauce over the hunks of pork shoulder and serve immediately.

Pear, Oat, and Almond Cake

pear cakePear, Oat, and Almond Cake

This is a sweet little dessert or snack cake inspired by my great-grandmother’s recipe box. I inherited her recipes from my aunt last year, and found that she kept over a dozen different recipes for cakes which included fresh fruit (pears, apples, plums, etc.) Through her recipes, I was inspired to create a pear cake in her honor. I never had the chance to meet her, but I have a feeling she would have kept a copy of this autumn-spiced pear cake in her recipe box.

Buy your pears several days in advance of making this cake – they’ll be best if they are very ripe. If you’ve never used ground oats in a recipe before, don’t fret. The oats will crush up easily in your blender, and if they stop spinning, just stop the blender and tap the side of your blender’s jar firmly with your palm. I promise you will love the texture that they lend to the cake, and they pair perfectly with the fall flavors of cinnamon, clove, and almond.

Serve this cake still warm from the oven, but be sure to tightly wrap any leftovers once the cake cools. The cake will only get more moist and delicious with each passing day. I enjoyed my last slice on day four most of all.

10 tablespoons butter, melted, PLUS more for greasing the pan
2 eggs
4 ripe USA Pears, such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Red Bartlett, medium dice
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
1 ¼ cups old-fashioned oats, ground in a blender until fine
1 cup unbleached flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 inch round glass or ceramic baking dish with butter.

pear cake prepFor the cake: Melt the butter in a small saucepan and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until well combined. Add the diced pears, sugar, and almond extract. Lastly, pour in the melted butter and combine the ingredients gently with a spatula.

In a medium bowl, add the ground oats, flour, cinnamon, cloves, soda, and salt, and whisk until well combined. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, and fold together until just moistened using a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

prep time: 20 minutes, plus one hour for baking.
yield: 8 – 10 servings

Pears’ Perfect Pairing: Double Gouda Fondue

fondueThis fondue recipe is perfect for fall, when all of the colorful varieties of USA Pears begin showing up at your local grocery store. I’ve used pear cider as a base rather than the traditional white wine to give this dish a distinctive autumn flavor. This fondue also benefits from the use of two types of gouda cheese. The soft gouda lends a wonderful creaminess to the fondue, and the aged gouda adds a tangy, bold flavor that makes it ideal for dipping sweet, ripe pears.

Serve this recipe as an appetizer, during a weekend football game, or add some toasted bread and vegetables for dipping and make it an easy weeknight dinner. Simply choose a variety of pears and the presentation will be beautiful and effortless!

This recipe is also a great way to get kids to eat vegetables with the simple substitution of non-alcoholic cider. In addition to pears, try having your kids dip carrots, radishes, broccoli florets, or even roasted vegetables into the fondue.

12 ounces hard pear cider
8 ounces soft gouda cheese, grated
8 ounces aged, firm gouda cheese, grated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of nutmeg (more if desired)
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For serving
5 USA Pears, such as Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Anjou, or Starkrimson

Pour the pear cider into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Toss the grated cheeses with the cornstarch until well coated. Add the cheese and cornstarch mixture to the simmering cider, one handful at a time, whisking constantly. Once all of the cheese has been added and the mixture is creamy, add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cover while you slice your pears. Whisk the fondue again and transfer to a fondue pot. Serve immediately with the pears for dipping.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 4 – 6 servings