Sunday, January 3, 2010

Home Again - To California!

First of all, Happy New Year! I can't believe it's already 2010! It looks like I didn't get around to posting much in December. Shortly after my last post I was kept very busy helping out with Nicola and Matt's wedding. After that we flew to Oklahoma City, OK to have Christmas with my mother's side of the family where there was no internet access - at least at our house. Finally, we flew back to San Jose, CA but then left again to spend New Years Eve with some of Woodley's family members down in Big Sur.

Wow! It was a lot of traveling! But now we are home again and I can't wait to start catching up on the news. I was amused to see the title of my last post since Woodley and I now consider ourselves to be back home again, but home in California this time.

Since we've been on the road so much I haven't been posting any recipes for quite awhile but I have had this one saved away since November and am excited to post it now. It is a Pear and Dried-Cherry Crisp with Nutmeg-Walnut Streusel from that is delicious and a bit unexpected. The interesting thing about it is that flavor comes entirely from the pears, dried cherries, nuts, vanilla, nutmeg, and orange. There is no cinnamon or nutmeg here which gives it a completely different but absolutely delicious flavor which stands out from other crisps and cobblers I've had in the past. As it baked, it filled the house with the most amazing scents. I thought the combination would make the perfect home scent for the fall if you could bottle it up and sell it.

Since it features pears and dried cherries so heavily it's a bit dense and I think it works best when served over vanilla ice cream. The recipe yields 12 servings and fills an entire 9x13 inch pan. Although we absolutely loved it, there was no way the two of us could finish it all before we needed to toss it. If you have a smaller family and want to try it out, I would highly recommend halving or quartering the recipe.

Alright, enough babbling, here it is:

Serves 12

For the Streusel:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, room temperature
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts {I didn't have any walnuts so I used pecans instead - it turned out perfectly and since I like pecans so much better than walnuts, I'm glad I made the change and would repeat it}

For the Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries (9 ounces)
4 1/2 pounds ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Making the Streusel:
1. Whisk the flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture begins to clump together.

3. Mix in the walnuts {or pecans} Note: The streusel can be made a day ahead. When it is ready, cover and chill it until it is time to finish the crisp.

Preparing the Filling and Assembling the Crisp:

1. Place the first six ingredients: sugar, butter, orange juice, orange peel, vanilla, and salt in a medium skillet. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil.

2. Add the cherries, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the cherries soften and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.

4. Toss the pears and dried cherry mixture in a large bowl.

5. Spread the pear-cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish.

6. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the pear-cherry mixture.

7. Bake until bubbling and golden, about 1 hour; cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Mmmmmm yummm!


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