Thanksgiving represents many things to me. I have wonderful memories of growing up on the farm and all the hustle and bustle of harvest time before winter came. Of watching the Autumn landscape transforming into a beautiful tapestry of reds, gold and yellows.
As the fall comes in, the days grow shorter and the mornings darker, we start to reflect on the year we have had with its inevitable highs and lows. The Autumn season gives us a little bit of extra time to make the most of what we have left in the year before the ‘grand finale’. It is so important to just take the time to be grateful and appreciate the blessings we are fortunate to have in our lives and make every day count.
Since turkey is usually our Christmas meal, I’m making some chicken breast with pears and Gorgonzola cheese ‘bundled’ in puff pastry for our Thanksgiving dinner today.
Chicken & Pear Bundles
In a small bowl, combine coulis ingredients well & set aside.
Chicken & Filling
Peel, core & chop pear. Chop walnuts & crumble cheese. Slice breasts in about 1/4-inch thickness; sprinkle with salt & pepper.
On parchment paper, roll thawed puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 4 circles large enough to fit custard cups & have extra on top to gather & tie. Using the custard cup only as a form, place a circle of pastry in each. Line the pastry with thin sliced chicken breast, then sprinkle some walnuts & cheese in the bottom. Add some pear pieces, cheese, more walnuts. Top with another piece of chicken, cut to fit. Bring sides of pastry together in the center on top, pinch then tie with a chive green if you wish.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a cup, beat together egg wash. Lift bundles out of custard cups & place on baking sheet. Lightly brush egg wash over each bundle. Bake about 30-40 minutes or until pastry is puffed & golden & chicken is done (I sliced into one of the bundles just enough to see if the chicken was cooked).
Slightly warm coulis in microwave & pour some on the serving platter. Carefully lay bundles on top & garnish with fresh herbs if you wish.
If you have never eaten a German pancake, think of it as a cross between a souffle and an omelette with undertones of French toast. Often called a Dutch baby pancake and not unlike a sweet Yorkshire pudding. ‘Eggier‘ than your typical pancake, but sweeter and lighter than an omelette, with more pastry-like characteristics. The sides of the pancake rise high above the edges of the pan, creating a light, puffy crust with a tender, custard-like middle.
Story has it that the name ‘Dutch Baby’ was coined when a restaurant owner’s daughter (in the USA) could not pronounce ‘Deutsch’, the German word for German, and out of her mouth came ‘Dutch’. Originally served as three small German pancakes with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice, the Dutch Baby, moniker was born.
These German pancake ‘bites’ are kind of a fun spin on the classic Dutch baby pancakes. The fresh apricot/raspberry sauce along with the Greek yogurt filling, bananas and chocolate makes them such a decadent addition to brunch.
German Pancake Bites
In a food processor, place pitted apricots, lemon juice & sugar; pulse several times until the apricots are COARSELY chopped. Transfer mixture to a saucepan. Lightly boil over medium heat, uncovered for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add more sugar to taste depending on how sweet your apricots were. Add raspberries & simmer 1-2 minutes or until raspberries are heated through & softened. Set aside until ready to use.
Greek Yogurt Filling
In a bowl, cream together cream cheese & sugar with a hand mixer. Add Greek yogurt & beat on medium-high until smooth & creamy. Set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate if not using right away.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl, using a hand mixer, blend eggs, milk, vanilla, flour & salt until well mixed. Pour a small amount of the melted butter in 8 MINI loaf pans. Pour 1/3 cup of the mixture into each of the individual spaces.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven & invert on a cooling rack. Place 'bites' on a serving plate. Divide yogurt filling, placing some in the bottom of each individual pancake. Top each with some apricot/raspberry sauce & some banana slices. Drizzle with chocolate & sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
Nectarines & peaches are both members of the stone fruit family and are so close, only one gene is responsible for their difference. This unique gene makes the peach fuzzy and the nectarine smooth. For most part, nectarines are sweeter and juicer — in essence more nectar.
Nectarines originated in China and spread across the continents until they landed in America. They thrive in warmer climates, as a result, many of the nectarines we see in the grocery stores here are unripe, hard and tough. They are often harvested too early and therefore do not develop the aroma they should have. Baking will concentrate their flavor, while lemon, almond and vanilla draw out their more elusive variations.
This dessert idea originated from Sweden. Quite similar to some of the other roasted fruit recipes I have posted except this dessert uses wine in the baking of it. If you don’t care for raspberries, blueberries or blackberries will work just as well.
Baked Nectarines & Raspberries with Almond & Honey
In a small dish, combine wine & honey; stir to dissolve. Halve & stone nectarines, place them flesh-side up in a glass baking dish. Crush amaretti biscuits, add cardamom & mix well; add beaten egg yolk, 2 Tbsp of wine mixture & toasted almonds. Combine & divide mixture between nectarines, spooning into 'pit' holes.
Sprinkle nectarines with brown sugar then top each with a bit of the butter. Pour remaining wine & honey AROUND but NOT over the fruit, add 1 Tbsp water & tuck in the vanilla pod.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the nectarines for 30 minutes or until fruit is soft & the biscuit filling is crisp & golden. Remove vanilla pod. Carefully stir the raspberries through the pan juices. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, whip cream; when ready to serve dessert, top each with a dollop.
Summer’s bounty of fresh fruit is so hard to resist. Raspberries for instance — vividly pink, exquisitely perfumed and very delicate. I think I’ve tried to use them in everything imaginable. For one company event some years ago, I was trying to come up with a sauce that would take my cream puffs to the ‘next level’. I decided to put some Chambord raspberry liqueur in it. Chambord is created using black and red raspberries, vanilla, citrus peel, honey and hints of fragrant herbs. I definitely could say I think I ‘nailed it’ with that raspberry drizzle.
Although the red raspberries seem to be the most popular and well known, I have tasted the gold ones as well. Fall Gold raspberries ripen in the late part of the season becoming very large and sweet. If you get a chance, they are certainly worth trying.
It seems strange that raspberries are actually a member of the rose ‘family’ and not considered a true berry. Irregardless, they are certainly delicious to eat and always give such great eye appeal to everything they are used in. Pie has become such a global favorite, you might say, it’s a work of art that comes easily. Today’s blog recipe for Raspberry Vanilla Cream Pie has always been one of my favorites.
Raspberry Vanilla Cream Pie
Showy and delicious!
Oat Pie Crust
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, (sugar) & salt; bend in margarine until resembles coarse crumbs. Press onto the bottom & up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Bake at 400 F. for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
In a large saucepan, heat water over medium heat. Whisk in pudding mix. Cook & stir for 5 minutes or until thickened & bubbly. Whisk in jell-o until completely dissolved. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Gently fold in raspberries. Spoon into cooled crust. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip or Dessert Topping or decorate with a design.