Absolutely Perfect Pear Cobbler with Cranberry Streusel

Although I have a respectable collection of cookbooks, I tend to go to two favorite spots on the web when browsing recipes. One is Epicurious.com where I’ll focus on the recipes from Bon Appetit and Gourmet; the other is Food network.com where I’ll sort to certain chefs (Ina Garten, Tyler Lawrence, Bobby Flay if I’m in the mood for spicy or Alton Brown for something seen on his show). On one such browsing adventure for cranberries, I found this recipe that has become a favorite.  I use it to lure my friends up for a weekend, “if you come up I promise I’ll make the pear cranberry cobbler”. It goes unsaid that it will be served with rich vanilla ice cream. However with the threat of power outage yet again hanging over my head, I made this with the intention of having it as a breakfast treat with some plain yogurt.

Love cooked pears they’re so very light sweet and mild and the cranberries add the perfect punch in this flavor palate. This particular recipe from Tyler Florence is absolutely fantastic as published and has a solid five-star review over@foodnetwork.com . I can’t seem to help from making minor adjustments to recipes, in this case I like to add one cup of walnuts to the streusel topping. I also prefer to make my topping by keeping the butter ice cold and using my small food processor to quickly pulse the streusel together. In this particular batch I was thinking breakfast and not “company dessert” so didn’t bother to peel the pears. Because there was less surface area of pear to absorb the vanilla, I cut that in half. I like it both ways – peeling does give it an edge of just a bit better presentation. The most difficult thing about this recipe is not giving in to the temptation to hide it from everyone else (no one will look at that table on the icy cold porch instead of the fridge 🙂 ) and simply devouring it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tyler’s Pear Cobbler with Cranberry Streusel

4 pears (Tyler specifies Bartlett but I use D’Anjou quite often)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Streusel Topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Cup Walnuts
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup whipping cream, beaten to soft peaks
Unsalted butter, at room temperature, granulated and sugar, for the baking dish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel the pears and cut them in 1/2 through the stem end. Use a melon baller to scoop out the cores. Put the pear halves in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the vanilla; toss. Then sprinkle over the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and and toss to coat the pears with the flavorings. Line the pears up in a buttered, sugared baking dish rounded sides up.

In the same bowl, mash together the butter, brown sugar, flour, walnuts and salt with your hands for the topping (or use your processor). Toss in the cranberries. Crumble the topping mixture over the pears in the baking dish and bake until the topping is crunchy and browned and the pears are very tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream or yogurt.

The picture linky parties I participate in are linked at the bottom of this post.

Labels for the Holiday Mix in a Jar Recipes

Well, like many of you I am swamped with the hours spent at work, holiday gift creating and shopping plus trying to get the home decorated, cards mailed and the blog kept up (whew, tired just thinking about it).  I’ve been promising more on wrap for food gifts and am taking a moment to toss up a PDF file you can download of holiday labels for the recipes in a jar I’ve posted. I’ve added a blank label page as well. They fit easily on any regular mason jar. Ever pragmatic, I prefer the label right on the jar as I’ve received jar gifts (bean soups from the kiddies in kindergarten) where the jar and the tag became separated.  I want the instructions stuck on as the vast majority of my gift recipients truly prefer pragmatism as well.

 A square or circle of cloth or paper over the lid could be the finishing touch instead of a bow. If you want to use the blank labels as lid toppers, just print at 125% – any bigger and you won’t see the label on the jar. For labels on the jars just print at 100%. Stuck on the ribbon for the photo – but in the basket I’m planning full of things, I’d trim the ties up a bit maybe use a deep purple for contrast. I won’t truly decide finishing touches until I have all the items together with the “vessel”.

The pumpkin muffins will be packaged the mix, the small can of pumpkin (I used a purchased cello bag for in the photos above and below) plus a cello bag with the molasses in a 4 ounce jam jar and a packet of cream cheese.  I’ll also include some sourdough in a jam jar with a mix for multigrain or gingerbread waffles and maple syrup (chosen recipe to come), plus the oatmeal tea loaves with the oatmeal mix jars of those as well. So many folks I know work oodles and oodles of hours per week and take off over the holidays. One of the joys of that time is being able to enjoy leisurely breakfasts. So the brunch baskets are always a treat. If I were giving the muffins with extras alone or a two mix jars – a simple hand sewn stocking (or purchased) would be a perfect holder.

I simply used the paper I normally run through my HP printer (Costco or Office Depot stock). Cardstock might be too hard to wrap easily; this label mirrors the Classico sauce label in that it wraps the jar ever so slightly. Brush the back with Modge Podge or something similar and place it on your jar. Really press the edges but be careful not to rub with your fingertip over the indented lettering if your choice of jar has that. I simply used the flat part of an extended finger to smooth and press over that area. I deliberately chose to use regular print, not photo quality and no spraying clear gloss or Modge Podge over the top as I like the handmade non-glossy look and feel of the jars.

The photos are mine on the labels with photos, clip art courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart download for the labels with clip art. I’ve put links to the recipe on the labels, as with the muffins you’ll find the dry ingredients aren’t included should the recipient want to replicate them. There simply wasn’t enough room. I only ask that if you post your gift with my labels to your blog, you note labels courtesy of http://coedraiocht.wordpress.com  and link to the download on my site – do not copy and upload the PDF files to your site. Of course, don’t sell the labels or add the labels to a collection to sell.  I don’t sell items; I’m simply sharing what I’ve created for my own gifts.  All 3 pages of labels are in the one PDF file.

Jar Mix Label  

This post is participating in linky parties noted below.

Jacques’ Cranberry Chutney

With the influx of guests, decorating and tasks for the holidays I’ve let my posting fall off. Time for a few quick hits.

We all have favorite recipes, collections we go to no matter what appears in a magazine, food show or blog. Some because it would be heresy to deviate from. In my family that would be Nana’s hardsauce that she’d pour over plum puddings. Never liked plum pudding as a kid but a bowl of hardsauce would suit me just fine. If any family member held the holidays and tried something other than nana’s hardsauce – well, that would just be an insult to her memory. Other go to recipes are the ones you make and sigh, perfection. Why try any other chocolate cake , hermit cookie, veggie chili ,whatever once you’ve found the one recipe that truly rings your chimes for flavor, texture, ease of preparation and your other selection criteria.  

For me, Jacques Pepin’s Cranberry Chutney from Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home is one of these recipes. Doesn’t matter what I see in blogs, tv or magazines – this is my go to recipe.

I rarely deviate from the recipe as published but have seen the addition by some of dried cranberries to a sauce which might be interesting. If I were hosting a meal with many kiddies, I might swap the lemon for orange. Be forewarned, this recipe is TART. But, I like tart. The chutney is not only lovely with turkey; I also enjoy it as a topping for cream cheese on a bagel or toast. If you’re a fan of tart lemon flavor and a fan of cranberries – this could be your next go to recipe as well.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Victory in a Jar

I enjoy writing. My days are spent in business where good business writing is concise, clear, three points, short words, never confuse anyone with multi-syllable words, descriptors are clutter to the message and sentences should be short. This is important with global audiences where English is a second language to many. For my blog, I love the freedom of “stream of consciousness” (sounds more intelligent than run on sentences, doesn’t it?) and like to push myself to remember simple things like adjectives and descriptors. When pondering terms to use for this post, antediluvian is what I settled on. It means “from the time before the biblical flood”. Marvelous word – don’t you think? Why is this post antediluvian? Because this post is about Mix in a Jar recipes.

Why victorious for my title? Because this mix in a jar recipe is sheer bliss once it’s made into a loaf. Victory, found what I needed, settled on my “theme” to work up (baskets, various wrapping ideas and the theme with another recipe in a future post; you may want to subscribe so you don’t miss it J  I will tell you that for folks I know, I like to include a baked version, plus the mix for them to make and enjoy again later ). If there were blog police, I think they should go after anyone who posts mix in a jar recipes and hasn’t actually made and eaten them or has not posted pics of the finished cooked/baked product. I want to know there’s firsthand experience and what I’m gifting isn’t some gummy oily monstrosity once baked. So, I’m Maggie and I approve this recipe.

My slight variation, substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat and use dried fruit instead of chocolate chips: Sunset Quick Bread in a Bottle.

Dried Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Quick Bread (or Raisin Walnut)

Layer:

 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped (or raisins) 

Follow Sunset recipe for wet. For gifts I recommend you add the notation that 1 ½  TBL vinegar added to 1 ½ Cup milk can be substituted for the buttermilk (not everyone you gift may have it handy and although buttermilk would be a smidge better, this will still make a fine loaf). * Since originally posting this, I’ve become a fan of dry buttermilk (once the America’s test kitchen folks gave it their approval, I gave it a go. I now add the buttermilk powder to the dry and the corresponding amount of water to the wet. Follow instructions wiith the brand you get for amounts.

 At first I was very concerned. The batter seemed MUCH looser than most tea breads I make. I was reaching for the flour thinking just another ¼ cup but made myself resist as Sunset is usually pretty reliable. I truly had my doubts when putting these into the oven that they wouldn’t be a bit soggy. No worries – do not give in to the temptation to add flour, it bakes up beautifully.

 

 

As I’m testing out gifts, I thought about making the loaves just a tad easier to wrap by lining the pans with parchment (long side only see photo. I didn’t bother with the pan that was for me). As the cooking sprays come out pretty wet – I usually tip the pans over and let them drain a tad, figure the manufacturer doesn’t want any sticking, thus the heavy hand – I placed the parchment in the wet pan then turned it over so batter side had some of non-stick goo. I also sprinkled the tops with a light dusting of white sugar as I like the little extra crunch it gives the final product.

 

My smaller pans took about 40 minutes (I am in the mountains and seem to have to cook all baked goods a tad longer). 

Jars

I realized I wanted to do another wash of my jars (they’d gotten dusty), so you won’t see mine here. But they are something you can ready ahead of time. A nice add is to check the expiration on the flours you use and note that expiration date on the bottom of your recipe cards.  For jars, I use thoroughly cleaned Classico sauce jars (get the sauce in a 3 pack from Costco).  Yes, linking this post to food sites and I have jars of premade sauce confessed to in it. Just mush a few olives, capers and caper juice into it and it transforms. So, the jars – I like that the Kerr regular lids fit precisely and there are no vendor marks on the jars. You might have to use an adhesive remover to get the labels off. A final run through your hot dishwasher and your jars are probably more sterile than what you buy.  I know some paint and reuse the sauce lids, but new Kerr lids cost virtually nothing and take the package up a notch.

I did make and share labels for the jars here.

 

Wrap

 Experimenting with wrapping alternatives and found another keeper. These loaves can be boxed in one 8 ½ X 11 sheet of cardstock (U.S. Letter). My example is showing you only the cardstock “plain” (having guests for U.S. Thanksgiving and am not dragging out the Christmas stuff yet). Crafters reading this post will realize the decorating ideas are endless – they include paint (simply sponge or wash your holiday colors over the paper and let dry), rubber stamping, pen and ink, decoupaged tissue, composing whatever combo you like and running your sheet through your printer, purchased cardstock or downloadable sheet images. I used a heavier cardstock and scored all lines using a clean pan as my guide. No tape – the ribbon at the end holds it together. Plan to make and print round labels for the tops (something original like “From Maggie’s Kitchen” in holiday hues). I’ve scanned the folded one so that I can work the pattern in my design programs.

         

 Special thank you to ‘SnoWhite’ for featuring this post on her blog.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Pure Temptation in an 8 x 8 pan

 Well, I’d said I was participating in 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies, but after making my absolute favorite cookie, the hermit, I needed to take a few weeks off baking so I don’t blow up like a startled pufferfish J.

Seeing the first few week entries in the blog hop I was getting concerned. I only have so many favored cookie recipes and they were starting to show up before I baked and blogged about them.  I thought about publishing my list – a sort of blogosphere dibs – neener, neener, neener, I dibbed shortbread on week 5.  But, I decided that was more childish than the person I like to be.  Besides, blogging is about my experience with a recipe and if there are 15 others of the same, so be it.  Once I got past my hissy hurdle I considered a list for me would be useful. I’ll have some plan of which cookies/candies to write about when. For instance, since I’m pawning them off, generously sharing the delicious treats with neighbors, I won’t do Christmas decorated cookies until December.

I dragged out favored cookbooks, bunches of Americas Test Kitchen (they’re by year), Martha, Julia, Jacques and a few specifically for tea time that would be heavy on cookies and browsed through them.  The notes also give me shopping lists, a smart move on my part as might otherwise hit a “rainy great baking day” and not have all the ingredients on hand.

Decided this week’s cookie will be from Boston Tea Parties, recipes from the Fine Arts Museum (side note I started collecting cookbooks when I was in Junior High).  It’s a fun little cookbook – instead of pictures of food you get pictures of museum tea sets, paintings about tea and so forth. It’s copyright ’87. Some of you may have read my food nazi post where I discussed that I was a vegetarian and healthy whole grains only kinda gal for 15 years, during which time my extended family was not enamored of my cooking (understatement).  Some recipes in this cookbook reminded me of those days –I may have a taste for such concoctions as carrot drops (only cooks for 10 minutes so the grated carrot probably still tastes like, well, grated carrot), whole wheat drops (what chocolate loving kid won’t jump for joy when presented with these?) and my favorite, hard boiled egg cookies (yep, cut up some hard boiled yolks and toss them in).  I chortled out loud thinking of the strongly negative reaction I’d get showing up at my brother’s for the holiday with a box of only these. It would be like showing up with stockings of coal and nothing else.

 

But, I LOVE cranberries. Tart homemade cranberry chutney from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, cranberry tea bread from the OceanSpray wrapper, cranberries in stuffing, in pies, in scones, dried cranberries – it’s all good.  And, this book had a recipe for Cranberry Spice Squares. Love spice cookies, love cranberries, however I remained cautious in thinking anyone but me may like these cookies given the book’s other inclusions.

 

I’m an Irish soda bread kinda gal – you know, flour, soda – toss it in the oven and if you don’t eat it in the next few hours it makes a great doorstop. My sister referred to it in our Ireland trip as akin to eating sawdust. So, I know baking soda has a rather distinct taste.  These cookies call for soda – I considered substituting it but the references I found said 3 times as much baking powder for baking soda and I knew that would throw the flavor off – I decided to bake them as instructed.

 

The long and short of it?  These things are GOOD! They’re better than good; they’re one of my new favorite spice cake recipes. Took every ounce of my willpower to not devour at least half of it warm from the oven.  Even now, the day after at room temp, I have to carefully allot myself a certain amount and wrap it up out of sight. I could just finish the darn thing for dinner. It calls to me – the marvelous heady spice (I added ¾ tsp allspice to the recipe), the perfectly tender and moist crumb, the delectable cranberries. It’s my ideal tea cake and it’s one I can share with my family – sans disdain and disappointment.

You will notice I’m calling it a tea cake. The book called it squares and listed it as a cookie.  I’d been imaging something much denser and, well, cookie like. This is a scrumptious tea cake cooked in an 8 X 8 pan that can be cut into squares. The book offers a recipe for cream cheese frosting (see recipes above) to go with it; I opted out of that one. For a dinner dessert try it, for a brunch/breakfast cake – skip it.  If you too don’t want to blow up like a pufferfish, be sure to have a few folks on hand to help you devour it. With or without assistance, it won’t be around long.

This post is participating in the following linky parties noted below.