Tart Time

My sister got me a beautiful new pie/tart pan for Christmas, so when I set out to bake a dessert for a New Year’s party, I immediately wanted to try out my present. After a while of browsing the interwebs, I decided to go with a cranberry pear tart.

IMG_0273Cranberry Almond Pear Tart

You will need:

  • Pie crust
  • 4 lbs Bosc pears
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger, plus a little extra
  • Cranberries (fresh)
  • Almonds (chopped)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop pears. In a large bowl, combine pears, sugar, and 2 tsp ginger. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and add pear mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until pears are soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees. I’m lazy and used a store-bought crust, but if you’re more ambitious, make a lovely homemade pie crust. Poncie has a delicious pie crust recipe that she will hopefully share on this blog at some point. Either way, roll out your crust and line your tart pan with it. Lift the pears out of the roasting pan with a slotted spoon and put them into the crust. Add a handful of cranberries over the mixture and press them down into the pears. Sprinkle chopped almonds and remaining ginger over the top. Bake for an hour and serve warm or chilled. Happy 2013!

tart

Ginger Chai Tea

I’ve been on a huge tea kick lately. Who am I kidding? I’m always on a huge tea kick! Over the past week, the focus of my obsession has been chai. I really love it plain (no milk, sugar, or honey) and strong. My paramour on the other hand, can’t get enough of chai tea lattes. Since we both have colds and nothing to do, I decided to do something nice for him.

To make Ginger Chai Tea, you’ll need:

– 4 bags (or 2 tbsp) of tea (I used Tazo Organic Chai which already has ginger in it among other spices)

– 2 tbsp sugar

– 2 cups of water

– 1 cup of milk

– 1 inch of ginger root

Preparation:

– Brew water, tea, and sugar together in a medium sized pot. Let it boil for five minutes.

– While it’s brewing, grate the ginger directly into the pot.

– Once the tea has finished brewing, add the cup of milk and put it back on the heat. The minute it starts to boil, remove from the flame.

– Let it sit for a few minutes to cool, then using a strainer, pour into mugs.

This tea is very spicy (not so much hot, but it tickles the back of my throat). Again, I’m not a huge fan of milk in my tea, but this was very good. The proportions I listed here makes two cups of tea. Add more ginger at your own risk. This recipe was adapted from A Curry of a Life.

–Cassie

It’s Soup Season (Spicy Black Bean Soup)

I’m pretty sure my mom only observes three seasons: spring, summer, and soup. From about September until March, she goes into soup mode, combatting the chilly to freezing weather in West Virginia with every type of soup under the sun. From broccoli cheddar and chicken noodle to turkey meatball and vegetable lentil, my mom makes it all.

Because I spent the last four years living in Orlando, soup wasn’t exactly at the top of my list in terms of what I wanted to make. Even when the AC was cranked up in the apartment, the constant stifling humidity outside made eating soup just feel wrong. So now that I’m living in Boston with the cooler weather, I’m adopting my mother’s belief in soup season. I had several people tell me over the past couple months that soup is not real food. I wholeheartedly disagree. There is nothing better on a chilly night than a big bowl of piping hot soup. You’ll probably see many more soup recipes surfacing on this blog in the coming weeks.

Spicy Black Bean Soup (adapted from http://gimmesomeoven.com/spicy-black-bean-soup)

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped plus 1 tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro (chopped fresh or dried)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips

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In a large pot, heat olive oil and cook onion, red pepper, and garlic for about 5 minutes.

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Add in chipotle, black beans, and diced tomatoes.

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Stir in chicken broth, bay leaf, and spices. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes.

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Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Add sour cream and cheese as a garnish and serve hot soup with tortilla chips.

Fig Almond Toffee Bars

New Years has come and gone yet again. Last night, I celebrated by watching the fireworks at Boston Harbor with friends. It was fantastic, but I woke up today with a cold. Whenever I’m stuck at home I  get restless, so as a remedy I cook. I don’t start out with anything in mind–when I cook, it’s a haphazard affair. Luckily, most of my experiments turn out pretty well. People brave enough to try the final product are generally pleased.

Tonight’s pièce de résistance is a modified toffee bar recipe from cooks.com.

What You’ll Need:

– 1 package water crackers

– 1 jar fig butter (I used Trader Joe’s because that’s what happened to be in my refrigerator)

– 1/2 cup regular butter

– 1 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup diced toasted almonds

– 1 bar dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe’s 85% Dark)

Baking:

– Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×12 pan with aluminum foil and line the bottom of the with crackers.

– In a small frying pan on high heat, whisk together butter, fig butter, and brown sugar until liquefied. Pour over crackers.

– Bake the pan in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. (In the original recipe, it says the crackers should float. Because the fig butter is so viscous, they won’t so don’t worry about it).

– Take the pan out of the oven and break up the chocolate bar into pieces and scatter on top. Once it starts to melt, take a spatula and spread out over the top.

– Sprinkle the diced almonds on top and put in the refrigerator to cool then move to the freezer to harden. Once firm, slice into bars and take pretty pictures (if you’re into that sort of thing) and serve.

Here’s to kicking off 2013 with a kick-ass new recipe!

–Cassie