Fall is upon us and here, in Central Texas, it is pear season. My neighbor brought me some beautiful Kieffer pears from his tree. They inspired me to make this salad.
- 3 hard pears (Kieffer pears are hard and sweet)
- 2 heads of butter lettuce
- 1 small red onion
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 8 ounces of gorgonzola cheese
- 3 sprigs each of oregano and thyme
- 1 teaspoon of agave nectar
- red vine vinegar (3 tablespoons for soaking the onion + 1/4 cup for the dressing)
- Gravenstein apple balsamic vinegar (3 tablespoons for coating the pears + 1/4 cup for the dressing.) The vinegar I used is from CONOLIOS.COM. It is really delicious. You can substitute white balsamic.
- Pecan oil–1/4 cup for the dressing
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the onion and slice it thinly. Place in a bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Season with a little salt and pepper. Toss together and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This will allow the sharpness of the onion to mellow out.
- Peel and core the pears. Cut into thin strips. Place in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the Gravenstein apple cider vinegar. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the salad.
- Crumble the blue cheese. Place in the frig until you are ready to assemble the salad.
- Toast the pecans. Let them cool. SET ASIDE 6 WHOLE PECANS FOR GARNISH. Rough chop the rest.
- Pull the herb leaves off their stems. You should have 1/2 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Clean the lettuce as needed. I used a living hydroponic lettuce so there was not much cleaning to do. Tear the lettuce into bite sized pieces.
RECIPE TIP–notice that I have seasoned each component of the salad separately. I always do this because it makes the salad taste better. Each component has its own flavor so nothing is bland. The individual flavors play off of each other to create harmony.
Next, I will make the salad dressing and use it to coat just the lettuce leaves before assembling the salad.
PREPARING THE DRESSING:
- In a ball jar, add the 1/4 cup of each of the vinegars and 1/4 cup of pecan oil. Grind in a bit of salt and pepper. Add the herbs and the Agave nectar. Shake vigorously.
- Taste the dressing, add more red wine vinegar if you need more acid. Adjust the salt and pepper as needed.
ASSEMBLING THE SALAD:
- In a large bowl, add the lettuce leaves and sprinkle on half the dressing. Toss and taste. Add more dressing if you need it. Put the rest of the dressing in a gravy boat for the table. This way your guests can add more dressing if they need it.
- Next add the onions, pears and 1/3 of the chopped pecans. Toss gently. Place the mixture on your serving platter.
- Sprinkle the salad with 1/2 the cheese crumbles. Put the rest of the crumbles in a bowl for the table. This way if anyone wants extra gorgonzola cheese they can have it.
- Lastly sprinkle on the rest of the chopped pecans and use the whole ones to make a little flower in the center of the salad platter.
This salad is almost a cheese and fruit course. I like to serve it at the end of a meal with a glass of French Sauterne or Canadian Ice Wine.
Enjoy and please leave your feedback in the comment section. I love hearing from you!!!
This past July my neighbor brought me fresh figs from his tree. I glazed these figs and I use them in many recipes. The first recipe I posted was my Fig Fillo Bites
I had some glazed figs leftover so I used them to make this parfait. I also used them to make frozen fig cubes for a cocktail my husband created, called Texan Raspberry 75
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two. Double or quadruple the recipe as needed.)
- 8 glazed figs with their glazing liquid (see my recipe, Fig Fillo Bites for step by step instructions on how to glaze the figs.) NOTE: There are 4 figs per serving.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt. You can buy it or make your own. I have made my own by using My Mom’s Yogurt recipe. NOTE: There is 1/2 cup of yogurt per serving.
- 1 tablespoon of raw shelled pistachios
- 1 tablespoon of agave nectar (you can also use honey)
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel seed powder (you can make the powder by grinding up fennel seeds in a spice grinder)
ASSEMBLING THE PARFAIT: in your favorite parfait or martini glass
- Place a teaspoon of glazing liquid and one fig in the bottom of the glass.
- Next place a dollop of Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with pistachios and a pinch of fennel powder. Drizzle on a bit of agave nectar.
- Next place two glazed figs with a bit of the glazing liquid. Add more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
- Add more yogurt. Sprinkle with more pistachios, fennel powder and agave nectar.
- Place the fourth fig in the center of the parfait and top off with a single pistachio for a pretty presentation.
Fruit parfaits like this are simple, delicious and impressive looking. They are also very versatile. Choose any seasonal fruit you like and any spice you prefer. I have served yogurt/fruit parfaits for breakfast, brunch, a snack and even dessert. As an added bonus, they happen to be nutritious and figure-friendly.
Please try this recipe and let me know your feedback in the comments.
My neighbor, Billy, brought me another fresh batch of figs from his tree. I decided to make a batch of Fig Fillo Bites and invite my next door neighbor, Mary Ellen for mid-morning tea. Mary Ellen loves figs. We had a great time visiting with each other, talking and enjoying masala chai and these fig bites. It was a beautiful sunny morning, so I arranged tea under the pergola on our front deck. There was a beautiful summer breeze blowing. I felt very blessed to live in such a gorgeous place and have time to visit with my lovely neighbor.
Here is the recipe. Try it and let me know what you think.
INGREDIENTS: (enough for 15 little tarts)
- 15 figs
- 1 box of mini Fillo Shells (15 in a box)
- 8 ounces of Mascarpone, at room temp
- 15 pine nuts
- 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons of Agave nectar
- 4 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly (you can use any jelly you like)
- dash of fennel seed powder (to make the powder just put a few fennel seeds in a spice grinder and whiz them up)
- Trim the stems off the figs
- Zest the lemon
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon
- Toast the pine nuts on the stove top on low heat. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
- Bake the mini Fillo shells for 3 minutes at 350 F and let cool to room temp.
GLAZING THE FIGS:
- Place a large, heavy skillet on medium heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder. (If you want to add a boozy touch you can also add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine at this point.)
- Whisk to blend
- Add the figs. Using a silicone spatula, gently coat the figs with the glaze.
- Transfer the glazed figs to a glass container and set aside.
MAKING THE CREAM FILLING:
- Transfer the Mascarpone to a medium mixing bowl
- Add 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar, 2 tablespoons of Elderberry Jelly, half the lemon juice, half the lemon zest and half the fennel seed powder.
- Using a spoon, combine all ingredients.
- Transfer to a glass dish and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the fig bites.
ASSEMBLING THE FILLO FIG BITES:
- Using a small ice cream disher, scoop out a dollop of the mascarpone cream filling and place it in the cooled Fillo shell.
- Place a glazed fig, fat side down, on top of the cream filling.
- Insert a toasted pine nut into the stem side of the fig. The pine nut adds crunch and flavor. It also replaces the stem that was trimmed so that the fig looks whole.
RECIPE NOTE: If you want to make these a little boozy, you can add a splash of Chambord or red raspberry wine to the glaze.
I used a local red raspberry, all fruit wine from Texas SouthWind Vineyard and Winery, YUM!!! My husband created a cocktail he called, Texan Raspberry 75 using this wine to pair with the fig bites. ENJOY and please leave a comment to give me your feedback. I love hearing from you.
Ingredients: The peaches are from my neighbor’s tree !!!
- 6 medium peaches–skinned and finely diced. Dice the peaches on a board with a groove that will collect the juice. Use the juice along with the diced peaches to make the filling.
- 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar. The sweeter the peaches are the less sugar you will need. I use organic evaporated cane juice which has leftover vanilla pods sitting in it. I always throw my leftover vanilla pods into my sugar jar to make vanilla sugar. If you don’t have vanilla sugar just use regular sugar with a splash of vanilla extract.
- 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts. Toast the hazelnuts. Let them cool. Set aside 15 hazelnuts for garnish. Pulverize the rest, into a coarse powder, in a spice grinder or food processor.
- 1 package of mini fillo shells. The package I used has 15 shells.
- 1 split bottle of prosecco
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of chai masala (optional)
- 15 small mint leaves for garnish
Making the peach filling:
- Place a heavy skillet on a medium flame
- Add the butter to the skillet and let it melt and turn light brown. Watch the butter carefully. Do not let it burn. Letting the butter brown adds a deep nutty flavor to the filling.
- As soon as the butter is brown add the peaches and vanilla sugar to your level of sweetness. Set aside a little sugar to make the ricotta cream for the topping.
- Stirring occasionally, cook the peaches until their liquid evaporates.
- Add the hazelnut powder and spices. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with 1/2 of the prosecco from the small prosecco bottle. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat and let the peach filling cool to room temperature.
Making the ricotta topping:
- Place the ricotta in a medium mixing bowl and add vanilla sugar to your level of sweetness.
- Use a fork or small whisk to cream the ricotta and sugar together.
- If the mixture is too thick add a bit of prosecco to thin it out. It should be the thickness of whip cream.
Cook the tart shells according to the package instructions and set aside to cool.
Assembling the tartlets:
- Fill each shell with the peach filling
- Top with a dollop of the ricotta cream
- Garnish with a whole hazelnut and a small mint leaf
Serve with a glass of prosecco and enjoy. They are so cute and absolutely delicious.
Dewberries are wild blackberries. They grow wild in our fields. They come up at about the same time as the spring wildflowers.
If you don’t have access to dewberries, you can use blackberries or any other berry you like.
Ingredients: Makes 6 tarts
- 1 cup of dewberries (set aside 6 berries, 1 as a topper for each tart)
- 2 pats of butter
- vanilla sugar to taste (I used 1/4 cup of organic evaporated cane juice with vanilla beans in it. I throw left over vanilla beans into my sugar jar to flavor the sugar.)
- 1 package of puff pastry shells (they usually come in packages of 6)
- 6 dollops of cream to top off each tart. (You can use whip cream or creme fraiche. I accidentally made goat milk creme fraiche as a by product of making Paneer (Indian Cheese) I will explain later in the recipe.
- 6 small sprigs of mint as a garnish for each tart
Making the dewberry jam: place all but 6 berries into a heavy saucepan along with the vanilla sugar. Place on a low flame and cook until the sugar melts and the berries cook down. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. It takes about 20 minutes for the jam to form. When the jam forms, melt in the 2 pats of butter. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
My accidental goat milk creme fraiche: When I was making the Paneer (Indian Cheese) from goats milk, I had the whey left over. I used Boer goat milk from my goat, Oreo. This milk has about 10% fat, so when I stored the left over whey, it still had quite a bit of fat which rose to the top and turned into creme fraiche over night in the frig. This was such a nice surprise. I decided to use it to top off my tart.
Preparing the puff pastry shells: Just place on top of a lined baking sheet and bake according to the package instructions. I used a Silpat to line my baking sheet. Use what works best for you. Usually puff pastry is baked in a oven preheated to 400 degress F for about 18 to 20 minutes. Cook the pastry until it puffs and is golden brown.
Assembling the tarts: Remove the top from the cooked shells and fill them with the cooled dewberry jam.
Top off with a dollop of cream, a dewberry and a small sprig of mint.
These are so pretty and yummy. If you have any left over dewberry jam, serve it over vanilla ice cream. This way you get two desserts in one.