Poached Pear Bourbon Bread Pudding w/Candied Hazelnuts

I have always loved bread pudding, but I’ve found a new twist on an old favorite: bourbon bread pudding, meet poached pears.

Poached Pear Bourbon Bread Pudding w/Candied Hazelnut Topping

So first off, I’ll be honest: when I made poached pears, I didn’t do it for just that. Sorry pears, I was using you–just a rebound dessert, an in between sweet to get me to something better. Forgive me.

With that heavy confession off my chest, I had high hopes for this dessert, but even with high expectations, I was still pretty impressed with the result. Everybody loves bread pudding (just agree), but bread pudding by itself can be one of those desserts that is kind of…predictable? The poached pears really brought something new and exciting to a familiar favorite of mine. The pudding itself was tasty and moist, with a sweet hint of bourbon and the wonderful flavor of fresh vanilla (beans are so much better than extract).… click to read more…

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Creamy Sausage Mushroom Stuffing

Stuffing is one of my (and probably everybody else’s) favorite side dishes that you only have once a year with your Thanksgiving turkey. For such a rare treat, you might as well spoil yourself a little:

Stuffing, fresh out of the oven

There seem to be an endless variety of ways you can prepare stuffing–from a bag, from inside the turkey, from fresh cornbread, apples, raisins, celery, squash, chestnut, oyster, cranberry–anything in season is pretty much fair game. This particular recipe was inspired by one that I saw online a while back that sounded delicious and slightly different from what I had grown up on. The end result was amazing: rather than the traditional cornbread croutons, you have the tang of sourdough bread, the heartiness of sausage, the earthy flavor of mushrooms, and the creaminess of leeks and goat cheese. There are a lot of really rich, heavy flavors at play in… click to read more…

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Roast Turkey & Gravy

The great beast, the top of the food chain, and yes, the centerpiece of Thanksgiving: the turkey (what?). There’s a plethora of ways to prep the holiday bird out there, each with their own ups and downs that strike fear in the hearts of millions every year: you could smoke it, deep fry it, roast it, overcook it, and so on and so forth. As the host for Thanksgiving this year, I picked up a medium sized bird (~18 lbs) and opted to brine and roast it.

Roast turkey, out of the oven and resting

If you’ve never brined a turkey before or have never heard the term, the idea behind it is simple: before you sit the turkey in the oven for several hours of heat, you want some assurance that the end result will still be moist, flavorful meat, not just some cooked-to-cardboard turkey. The solution is to prepare a spiced, and more importantly, fairly salty solution which you’ll soak the turkey in overnight. By… click to read more…

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Jalapeño Cornbread

Who doesn’t like cornbread, especially as a starter during Thanksgiving? I wanted to give it a little kick in a completely unoriginal way by adding in some other veggies: corn (crazy, I know!) and jalapeños.

Jalapeño cornbread

Everything that went into preparing this seemed like perfection. I love peppers, so adding some heat through jalapeños and sweetness through pimentos? Yes, awesome idea. Creamed corn for flecks of corn kernels (the fresh corn at the grocery store didn’t look too hot) for that kind of half-interesting texture? More brilliance. Really, what more could you ask for? (I suppose cheddar cheese, maybe bacon…but anyways…)

Well, the cornbread was tasty, but all of these bright ideas didn’t quite come together as I had envisioned and I would make a few minor changes next time. For instance, the creamed corn simply added way too much moisture to the bread (but having kernels in the bread was definitely nice). I also wasn’t thrilled with how it… click to read more…

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Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

I couldn’t decide on how to make my cranberry sauce, so I prepared two separate versions and figured that it ought to cover everybody’s tastes. One is a fairly traditional cranberry sauce, prepared with citrus and sugar and the other is prepared with wine, balsamic vinegar, and dried figs.

Traditional cranberry sauce

Wine & fig cranberry sauce

Growing up, I was never really a fan of cranberry sauce, or so I thought. Honestly, I’m not even really sure if I’d ever tried cranberry sauce, but I had it in my head that I didn’t like it, and that was reason enough for this long. However, I’d never seen cranberry sauce beyond the perfect-can-shaped cylinder of jelly before, so in keeping with my make-everything-from-scratch Thanksgiving, I thought I might as well give it a try as some of the cranberry sauce recipes out there looked pretty tasty (this is where both recipes were largely derived from). The… click to read more…

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Poached Pear

This is a delightfully simple but flavorful dessert: poached pears.

Poached pear in syrup

Poached pear is essentially a peeled and cored pear cooked (well, poached) in a sweet and spicy solution, then topped off with the poaching solution which has been cooked down to a syrup. The ingredient list sounds deceptively simple, but the flavor is really incredible and vibrant. The pears become translucent and incredibly tender, still retaining a distinct pear flavor, but complemented by a really vibrant citrus flavor that only enhances the pear. The vanilla and cloves add a really subtle, but interesting taste and aroma. This is a nice quick dessert to put together, but don’t let that fool you–this is really tasty and refreshing. This particular recipe is largely derived from The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert, which so far, has not done me wrong in the dessert department. This recipe isn’t entirely true to the original (which had some… click to read more…

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