Pear & Celery Salad
4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
1 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see Tip)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce
Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
Whisk vinegar, honey, and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese, and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare salad without pecans up to 2 hours ahead. Stir in pecans just before serving.
Tip: To toast chopped pecans, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
1 medium cooking pumpkin, about 3 ½ – 4 cups roasted pumpkin flesh
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped leeks
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups whole milk
1-2 teaspoons honey
Chopped chives for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet with sides.
Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Fill the pumpkin wells halfway with water and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Place in the oven and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool and then scrape out the pumpkin into a bowl. Set aside,
Pour the olive oil into a Dutch Oven and heat over medium-high heat.
Add leeks, celery, and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the pumpkin, broth, pepper, salt, and spices. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Process with a hand immersion blender in the saucepan or transfer half of the pumpkin mixture to a blender or food processor; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with the remaining half of the pumpkin mixture. Return all of the pureed mixture to the saucepan.
Stir in the milk and heat through, but do not boil. Stir in enough of the honey to sweeten the mixture to taste.
Serve warm garnished with chopped chives. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) servings.
Twice Baked Potatoes
Make-Ahead Tip: The potatoes can be baked a day before or early in the day.T hey can be filled, covered and refrigerated until close to serving time. Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour. Then reheat in the oven uncovered, for one hour.
2 large russet potatoes about 14 -16 oz each, scrubbed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Paprika and chopped chives for garnish
Heat oven to 375°F. Gently scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork to allow steam to escape while the potatoes bake. Wrap in heavy-duty foil.
Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when lightly squeezed.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut lengthwise in half; scoop out the inside, leaving a thin shell.
In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes. Add the butter, salt, and pepper; mix until the potatoes are light and fluffy.
Stir in the sour cream , heavy cream, and cheddar cheese. Fill the potato shells and place them in a baking dish.
Sprinkle with paprika and chives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Take them out of the refrigerator two hours before you want to serve them. Let the stuffed potatoes come to room temperature for one hour.
Then bake in a 375°F. oven uncovered, for one hour.
1/2 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup almond flour (finely ground blanched almonds)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 sheet frozen Puff Pastry
3 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears
Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to a 12×12 inch rectangle.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I use an attractive baking pan that can also be used for serving.) Prick pastry with a fork.
Build up the sides slightly by folding in about 1/2 inch of the pastry on the edges. Brush edges with egg white.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with the almond flour and all-purpose flour. Set aside.
Beat together the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the flavored extracts.
Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture just until combined.
Spread the almond filling evenly over the tart shell.
Peel, halve and core pears, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange pears decoratively on top of the illing.
Brush the pears with the egg white.
Bake until the pears are golden and the filling is puffed up around the pears and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Cool tart completely in the baking pan on a rack, then slide the parchment out from under the tart. Leave at room temperature until serving time.
Garnish with frozen yogurt or whipped cream, if desired.