Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Poached Pears, Oh My

Hello, pear.

I know we're haven't been very close over the years.  In our previous encounters, you've been fresh but kind of ... grainy.  It's a texture thing.  I didn't care for it.  Also, your shape makes you a little hard to hold.  Sometimes I eat my lunch fruit at my desk, so my fruit really needs to be one-hand friendly.  

But I'm still a believer in no bad foods, just bad preparations, so a few weeks ago I bought some Bosc pears, watched them sit untouched on the counter for a few days, discovered we had half a bottle of way-too-sweet for me Gew├╝rztraminer wine left (you don't want to know how many times I tried to spell that right), then poached them exactly as David Lebovitz said to. 

In addition to the wine, I also threw in dried cranberries.  It's an incredibly easy and simple recipe.  The result?

Hellllllo, pear. 

Poaching the pears was transformative.  It made them soft and sweet and smoothed the texture enough to make it totally delicious.  Maybe anything can be good swimming in a sweet syrup, but it really made me like pears for the first time in my life.

The nice thing was that the poached pears sat in my a jar in their syrup for a week, and I could dip in and have a few slices whenever I wanted.  On top of oatmeal.  On top of banana pancakes, as above. Warmed up, by itself in a bowl, along with an episode of Modern Family.  

It's a lovely way to have fruit this time of year, when it's so cold outside (and 45 degrees still counts in my book as SO COLD) - warm, sweet, but not too heavy.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Don't make your oven too hot, and don't be distracted by kids who have managed to find the lollipop hiding spot in the pantry

That, my friends, is an oven baked sweet potato chip.

I've made them a few times in the past few weeks because everyone will eat them.  Because they are chips, and who won't eat chips?  Aliens, that's who.

I found the recipe for them online, but now I can't find the original one I worked from.  No matter, I've had to modify it anyway, because I've learned a couple things in making them.  
  • It can be easy to miss that cooked-just-right sweet spot and end up with burned sweet potatoes. Especially if your oven is 450.  See the photo? 
  • If I brush one side with the butter/syrup mix and then go off to organize a race between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, the mix will have effectively soaked through so it doesn't need to be brushed on the other side.
  • The edges will burn if you wait for the center to get totally crisp.  Once the edges start to look dried out, the chips are done.  
  • A mandoline is my slicing friend, and works best if I don't push down too hard.
  • If I do push down too hard and end up with chips that are way thinner on one side, I can overlap the chips for the thin parts don't cook too quickly.  
  • I really should buy more baking sheets.  I only have one.
Here's how I make them:
  1. Slice one sweet potato.  Thin.  
  2. In a small bowl, mix equal amounts of melted butter (or olive oil, or coconut oil) and maple syrup (or honey or nothing, if you don't want it too sweet).  About two tablespoons of each should be enough.
  3. Brush on one side of the potato slices.   Or just toss it all together. 
  4. Bake in a 375-400 degree oven, for oh, about 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Flip the slices over.  Brush with more of the good stuff if you want.
  6. Back in the oven for 8-10 minutes more, or until the edges look dried out and crisp.  Keep an eye on it!
  7. Take out and cool for bit, and enjoy!