26 December, 2015

Pear with Yellow Cheese

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. When reading Eulalia, a pear with yellow cheese was briefly mentioned. At first glance it may sound odd or even gross, but pears and apples with a hard, slightly salty cheese can be very good. The natural sweetness of the fruit compliments the sharpness of the cheese quite nicely. You can make this recipe with thin slices of cheese or shredded cheese, so use whatever you have on hand.

Pear with Yellow Cheese

Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


  • 1 Bartlett pear
  • Sharp cheddar, either shredded or thinly sliced (amount to taste)

  1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350F.
  2. Cut the pear in half. Remove the seeds and, if desired, the hard flesh around the seeds and stem.
  3. Cover the cut faces of the pear with the desired amount of cheese. 
  4. Bake the pear for 10-15 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and the cheese is melty and beginning to brown. 

19 December, 2015

Fruit and Nut Rolls

I believe in recipes that are customizable. The filling for this recipe can be done a thousand ways. Take your favorite dried fruits, your favorite nuts, and any spices you think would go well with the two. This recipe seems like a lot of steps and time and work but it isn't actually as difficult as it seems and it yields a great result -- perfect for taking to holiday parties if you want to impress. There's also no added sugar in this recipe and the low-fat cream cheese adds a nice tang to compliment the natural sweetness of the fruit without letting the fat content become too high.

Fruit and Nut Rolls
Cook time: 20 minutes
Rest time: 1 hour
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 36 cookies


For the pastry

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
For the filling
  • 1/2 cup dried soft fruit, such as dried berries, dried plums, dried apricots, etc...dried hard fruit such as apples and pears probably won't work as well, but feel free to try and let me know
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp nuts
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or other spice(s)
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  2. Add the flour and mix just until it comes together.
  3. Knead the dough slightly with your hands until it comes together, then roll into two balls. Wrap the balls and let them chill in the fridge for an hour.
  4. While waiting for the dough to chill, add all of the filling ingredients to a food processor.
  5. Processes filling until it resembles coarse, sticky crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, chop the fruit and nuts as finely as you can, then mix in the butter and spices.
  6. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Roll out one ball of dough with a rolling pin (or a smooth, round glass bottle). The ideal shape would be a 12"x7" rectangle, but it doesn't have to be perfect.
  8. Cover the dough with half of the filling. I found the best way is to use your fingers to sprinkle it evenly, then gently press everything down into a solid layer. Don't worry if you can't cover the edges.
  9. Roll the dough into a spiral log (roll along the short direction so your finished log is about 12" long).
  10. Cut off the ragged, filling-less ends, then cut the log into 16 pieces.
  11. Repeat for the second ball of dough, then place all the pieces onto a lined baking sheet. I pressed the scrap ends into two small blocks and added them to the sheet. You can see that my first log wasn't perfect -- the spiral was a little too loose -- but they'll still puff up nicely and taste great.
  12. Bake for about 20 minutes, checking after 18 or so, until the rolls are golden brown. Leave the sheet on a cooling rack to cool, then enjoy.

12 December, 2015

Shrimp and Mushroom Pasty

As an American kid, I had zero idea of a pasty was. Redwall and Harry Potter compelled me to look it up and I found that a pasty is basically a savory turnover. This shrimp and mushroom pasty from The Outcast of Redwall is my first real attempt at making them. I cheated and used pre-made biscuit dough (please don't judge; it's finals week...) but I think they would be even better with a basic puff pastry dough.

Shrimp and Mushroom Pasty

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 10-15 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes

Yield: 8 pasties


  • 1 small yellow or white onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces shrimp, shells and tails removed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 recipe puff pastry dough or pre-made biscuit dough.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Finely chop onion and pepper
  3. Add oil, onion, and pepper to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until softened.
  4. Add mushrooms to pan and sweat until softened
  5. Add shrimp to pan. If you're using raw shrimp, stir them around until fully cooked. If you're using thawed, cooked shrimp (I used pre-cooked salad shrimp...it's finals week...) then just stir them around to be sure there's no remaining ice on them.
  6. Add cayenne pepper and set the skillet aside to cool slightly.
  7. Roll and cut your dough into 8 large circles (if you're using biscuit dough, separate the biscuits).
  8. Cup one circle of dough in your palm to create a bowl (or pull the biscuit apart halfway).
  9. Spoon some of the shrimp mixture into the dough, being very careful not to burn yourself.
  10. Crimp the edges of the circle together to seal and lay it on your sheet.
  11. Repeat for the other 7 circles.
  12. Bake pasties for 10-15 minutes, or until dough is golden brown. 

05 December, 2015

Barleymeal Porridge

I don't eat oatmeal or porridge very often in the summer, but in the winter I find myself drawn to it more and more often. There's nothing like a warm, hearty bowl of porridge when you're cold and hungry. Technically porridge can be made from any cereal grain, but I have never really strayed from oatmeal. This week, however, I had just enough barley left over after making a barley salad that I decided to try making the barleymeal porridge from the very first Redwall book I ever read: The Pearls of Lutra. My food processor had serious trouble with such a tiny amount of grain, however. If you tend to like your porridge made with small grains (for example, if you prefer the texture of instant oatmeal to steel cut oats) I recommend either using a coffee grinder or putting at least two cups of barley in the processor at a time.

Barleymeal Porridge

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 serving


  • 1/4 cup quick-cook barley
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk

  1. Place barley in food processor or grinder and process to a meal
  2. Pour barley and liquids into a microwave safe bowl and stir to combine
  3. Microwave for 10 minutes, stopping every two to stir and prevent overboiling.
  4. Top with anything you like. I find that I prefer the nutty taste of barley plain other than an extra splash of milk, but it would also be wonderful with some spices or fresh fruit.