Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pear Tarte Tatin Parcels

Tarte tatin, be it pear, apple, peach or banana is one of my favourite desserts ever. I love the generous amount of flaky pastry, bittersweet caramel and slow cooked fruit!  Instead of going the traditional route of making a large pastry, I thought personalized little parcels would look a lot more impressive. Also, you get more of the amazing buttery pastry this way!! Although the dessert looks sophisticated, I promise that if you follow the steps exactly you will absolutely nail it!

I made these a couple of hours prior to serving them. They taste amazing fresh out of the oven or at room temperature!

2 firm pears
4 star anise
1/4 cup room temperature butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 package good quality puff pastry

Preheat oven to 425.

Meanwhile, peel, trim and core your pears (try to do it with a small melon baller). Press the star anise into the core of the pear so that it holds. Place the pear core side down and cover with puff pastry. Trim the edges off with a knife. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and leave it in the fridge while you prep your caramel.

Place the lemon juice with the butter. Meanwhile, Put a thing layer of sugar in a non-stick ovenproof pan and set stove temperature to medium high. When the sugar starts to melt add another layer of sugar. Don't stir the sugar. Instead, slowly move the pan around in a circular motion using the handle. Repeat until the sugar is finished. When the sugar melts to a sort of light cola colour, turn off the heat and add the butter and lemon. Use a spoon to softly swirl the butter around. Continue to move the pan around so that the butter gets fully incorporated.

Place the Pears pastry side up and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove from oven and let cool for two minutes. With a palette knife, carefully remove the pear pastry and serve pastry side down with ice cream!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes

I had a friend over for lunch today and wanted to make some very rustic, tasty and light foods. I served my go-to dishes- roasted salmon, baked veggie medley, salsa verde... but I wanted to add a kiss of summer. Foraging through my kitchen for inspiration, I spotted some tomatoes I had purchased the other day and... Eureka!

I love roasted tomatoes. Even when they're baked through they look like little presents, tidily holding all these beautiful juices that are released to the cut of your knife. What adds dimension and depth is the extra virgin oil and herbs that I lovingly bathe my tomatoes in before putting them in the hot oven...It's just divine.

You can serve this as a side or as an appetizer with some fresh baguette!

10 tomatoes, washed and halved (preferably with their tops in tact)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic smashed or grated
1 teaspoon finely chopped basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme (you can do all four, just one or another mix of fresh herbs..whatever you like!)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup feta cheese

Place oven setting on broil.

Meanwhile, mix herbs, garlic and olive oil together.

Place tinfoil on a baking tray and rub a teaspoon of oil on it so that the tomatoes don't stick. Place the tomatoes close together, sprinkle with salt pepper and drizzle with the olive oil mixture, making sure to get the herbs and garlic on the tomatoes as well. Reserve any left over oil for finishing.

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until your tomatoes soften and brown on the edges. This time may vary in your oven so check every five minutes. When they're done,  turn oven off, sprinkle generously with feta and return to the oven for 1 minute. Remove and spoon any extra oil on tomatoes. Serve hot or room temperature with fresh bread!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chicken Marbella

I'm the first to raise my hand and admit that "I do not enjoy fruit in savory meals". However to every rule there is an exception and this, my dear friends, is mine.

I would never have ordered or attempted to make chicken marbella. Our union was a happy accident as I was over a friend's home for dinner and it was served as the main course. Although the chicken looked delicious, I was skeptical because of the  prunes... But let me tell you- it was DEEEEEELICIOUS! I mean it totally rocked my palette. There was so much going on! The tangy sauce and salty capers were totally offset by the sweet prunes that literally rendered down to these delicate pillows of ooey gooey goodness. Agh. On top of that she made a kale salad with raisins...again I didn't know how I would feel about that but i LOVED it!...(post to follow).

I had to make this recipe for myself and it was so so so so so so so good! Also, I've ben telling my friends how much I love it and they're also quite shocked because they know how strongly I feel about the incompatability of fruit in savory dishes.. But It's now totally flawed.

I'd like to conclude with the wise words my mother said when having me eat something new and or foreign "How do you know you don't like it if you don't try it" ?! ...

2.5 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast cut into chunks
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 head of garlic peeled and pureed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup capers with a teaspoon of juice
2 tablespoons dried oregano
4 bay leaves
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

Salt and pepper chicken. Place in a baking dish with prunes, vinegar, oil, garlic, oregano, capers and bay leaves. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 350. Pour white wine over chicken and sprinkle the brown sugar over all the chicken. Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, baste the chicken and bake 30 minutes longer or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.