Dec 15, 2014

Spiced Pear Butter

Spiced Pear Butter

Happy Holidays! This year I made some pear butter to give away as gifts. I was given a jar many years ago, along with the recipe, but only lately was I brave enough to try it.

My first batch I made with the Bartlett Pears that the recipe called for, and I think I only added 7 cups of sugar instead of 7.5, and it turned out delicious. The flavor of pear along with the usual Christmas spices makes it taste like the holidays. Delicious!

For the second batch I found a good sale on the large Asian pears at Superking. Asians take their pears very seriously, as they even come with little jackets to keep them from bruising (I assume).

I admit that the reason I wanted to use huge pears is that it meant less peeling, which really was the hardest part of this recipe. I used 3!

A big difference between the types of pears is that the large Asian pears didn't get soft. I kept waiting for them to get soft near the stem, but they didn't within my time frame, so I went ahead and used them. They never got as soft as the Bartlett pears when I was boiling them down, which I see now is the whole point of the Asian pears:  They are crisp! Very crisp, and protected by the little jackets.

But when I put them in the blender they broke down easily after the boiling. I had to boil off some of the water,  and the result was just as delicious as the Bartlett pear batch. If it's possible, it tastes a little crisper!

 I hope you enjoy this recipe and the resulting treat. It makes about 9 half-pints. Happy eating!


7 large Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and diced to make 2 quarts.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
7 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 (3-oz.) pouch liquid pectin

Yield: 9 cups


Combine pears in a large saucepan with lemon juice and water; heat to boiling. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until pears are soft. Uncover and cook over high heat 10 minutes longer, stirring and mashing pears as they cook.

In a blender, puree half the mixture at a time until smooth. This mixture should measure 5 cup: If it measures more, boil it down, if it measures less than 5 cups, add water.

Add sugar and spices and heat to boiling until sugar dissolves. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in pectin. Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps. 

Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Mar 29, 2014

Lamb for Easter

In 2012 my family visited New York City for Spring Break. We stayed near Central Park

While we were there on our short stay, we noticed a longer than usual line at the food truck nearest the hotel. We walked around the city a bit (Madison Square Garden, Central Park) and didn't see another truck with such a long line. So on our way out of town, we decided to try a gyro from that particular truck and it was DELICIOUS! We speculated as to why these gyros were so delicious, and decided they must contain lamb meat.

Fast forward to last Easter, and I learned that my family was tired of ham! Imagine that. Well, that got me to thinking about Easter and what other kind of dish could I cook, when I thought about the delicious lamb in NYC. And the symbolism of lamb (of God) and Easter somehow appealed to me.

I went online and found this recipe for a lamb dish that I could make in a Dutch Oven. I'm not sure how I found this recipe, but it is credited to J.M. Hirsh, food editor for the AP, and blogger at The name pretty much says it all. It contains lamb, garbanzo beans, rosemary and tomatoes.

I was worried that I wouldn't like the garbanzo beans, as I don't usually like their consistency whole (hummus I love.) I also was afraid the rosemary would be overpowering, but it wasn't, and the garbanzo beans were not firm and waxy, but fell apart in my mouth. I used half as much lamb as the original recipe (2 lbs), but the rest was the same, and the results were tender and delightful.

This recipe is fairly easy. A little chopping, open the cans, and cook it up in about 15 minutes. The hardest part was separating and browning the lamb. Then for 2 hours you can let it cook and take in the aroma of your upcoming meal.


Rosemary Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Serves 8


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 head garlic, minced
1 lb ground lamb
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
15 oz can chopped or diced tomatoes
15 oz can chickpeas, drained
¾ cup chicken broth
salt and ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
plain Greek yogurt, to serve


In the base of a tagine or large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic, then saute until tender and lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lamb and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the rosemary, tomatoes, chickpeas and broth, then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer and let cook for 2 hours, or until the lamb is fork tender.

Season with salt and pepper, then divide between serving plates. Squeeze 1 or 2 lemon wedges over each serving, then top with parsley and a dollop of yogurt.

Jan 22, 2014

Chicken Cacciatore

We wanted to have our friends, Mike and Carol, over our house last weekend, so I wanted to make something really good. I decided to make one of my best recipes: Chicken Cacciatore from the Colorado Cache Cookbook, a cookbook put out by the Junior League of Denver in 1978.

It was the first cookbook I owned, I think it was a gift. I brought it with me from Denver, when I moved to Los Angeles in 1984. This dish was one of the first I tried for company, and it is just delicious! I used chicken breasts for our friends on Saturday, a package of five. I used one onion and a large can of diced tomatoes. 

Last night I made more chicken for the leftover sauce: I used half a large package of thighs - six I think, and I put the oil onto a baking sheet and cooked the chicken on high (400 F) for 10 minutes or so a side - until browned. Baked with the sauce (add a little water) 30 minutes at 350 F and another 20 with the top off.

I hope you like it. It's one of my favorite!

Chicken Cacciatore

2 broiled-fryer chickens, cut into pieces
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced (any color, really)
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 1 lb, 12 oz. can  Italian plum tomatoes, chopped, reserve liquid
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper 
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives 
Parmesan cheese

Eight servings.

Dredge chicken pieces in salt and flour. Brown chicken in mixture of oil and butter. Remove to a casserole. Sauté onion, garlic, green pepper and mushrooms.

Stir in tomatoes, bouillon cubes, parsley, seasonings, white wine and 1/2 cup reserved juice

Cook a few minutes to blend. Add to chicken in casserole. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until chicken is almost tender.

Uncover, add olives and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove chicken and vegetables to a warm platter. Rapidly boil liquid until slightly reduced and thickened. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with spaghetti.