Pear Napoleons with Bourbon Caramel

It’s embarrassing how much time I spend thinking about recipes I want to try. I’ll start with the germ of an idea (say, a pear dessert for Mom’s birthday dinner). Then I’ll spend weeks – maybe months – considering the options: pear tart, pear cobbler, pear cake, pear sorbet… And when I finally decide on the perfect recipe, I abandon the idea entirely because I’m terrified of making a mistake. (Yeah, I never said my process was a healthy one.)

In this case, the paralyzing fear was invoked by the menace of homemade caramel sauce—it’s the easiest thing in the world to ruin. I think if I ever get around to recording another CD, it’ll be called Ways to Ruin Caramel, with forlorn country ballads like “Too Runny,” “Too Hard,” “Bitter and Scorched,” and “Grains of Sand.”

It took no less than three glasses of cheap wine for me to face my caramelized fear, and I’m so drunk—I mean, I’m so happy that I did! This caramel sauce is the perfect texture (creamy but not too thick), with the subtlest bite of sea salt and just enough booze. *hiccup*

The other components of the recipe – poached pears, sweetened mascarpone, flaky puff pastry, and toasted pistachios—are a cinch to prepare, yet every bit as delicious as the bourbon caramel.

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Pear and Apple Crostata

It’s my 2nd blogiversary! That’s right, imaginary internet friends, Galley Kitchen turns two this month.

I plan to celebrate the terrible twos by having a temper tantrum in the grocery store and demanding TWO stories at bedtime. Or maybe I’ll make a pie. I haven’t decided yet.

A year ago in my one-year blogiversary post, I set a couple goals for the 2011-2012 blog year, and I’m feeling pretty good about my progress. I learned to cook fabulous dinners on an unemployed lady’s budget, I learned to take decent photos after sunset, and, thanks to Handsome Greg, I have three new adverbs at the ready (frostingly, gravily, and somewhatkumquat).

The very first recipe I shared on Galley Kitchen was inspired by an overabundance of apples, so today I’m sharing another apple recipe. This Pear and Apple Crostata is a perfect fall treat; the filling has just enough sugar and cinnamon to turn  the apple and pear juices into a luxurious sauce, barely coating the tender fruit snuggled under a flaky duvet of pie crust. Next time I’ll brush the pie crust with egg wash—it was a tiny bit dry—but I’ll otherwise follow the recipe as is.

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Pear and Gorgonzola Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

I think it’s clear by now that I like grilled cheeses with a spoonful of sugar. You can candy coat your sammich with honey, jam, brown sugar, and best of all, fruit. If you start with a ripe, tender pear, the fruit will melt right along with the cheese for a soft and luscious, salty-sweet, flavor-packed filling between two slices of golden, bitter beer bread.

I’m really going to miss National Grilled Cheese Month.

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Turkey, Brie and Pear-Apple Butter Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

OK. I admit it was pretty much a given that turkey, brie, and pear-apple butter would make for a stellar grilled cheese sandwich. But did any of you stop and think about the bread? Did you even bother to consider how the choice of bread could completely change the taste of the sandwich?

I thought not.

So I’m asking you, as a favor, please grill this sandwich – tender deli turkey, oozing brie, and sweet pear-apple butter – on savory, pungent caraway rye bread. And please, please enjoy the earthy perfume of toasted caraway seeds in the air when the buttered bread hits the griddle. Could you just do this one little thing for me?


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Pear-Apple Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich

In honor of National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m posting a different grilled cheese sandwich every single day through the month of April. You’re welcome.

Cheddar and apple are already considered by many a perfect pair. When you add into the mix ripe pear, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and melt it between buttery whole wheat toast, the resulting sandwich is (dare I say it?) perfect. Sweet, salty, and gooey, with a hint of spicy warmth. This is pure comfort between two slices of bread.

Pear-Apple Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Author: Bake Up, Little Suzy
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 25 mins
Total time: 1 hour 50 mins
Serves: 1
Sweet, salty, and gooey, with a hint of spicy warmth. This is pure comfort between two slices of bread.
  • Pear-Apple Butter
  • 2 ripe pears, cored and sliced
  • 2 red delicious apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pear-Apple Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • 2 slices wheat bread
  • Butter
  • 2 slices cheddar
  • Pear apple butter
Pear-Apple Butter
  1. Place the fruit and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fruit is very soft when pierced with a knife.
  2. Remove the pan from heat; add brown sugar, spices and lemon juice and stir to blend.
  3. Puree mixture until very smooth in food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan; simmer over low heat, stirring frequently for 30 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency. Strain.
Pear-Apple Butter and Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  1. Top each slice of bread with cheddar cheese.
  2. Spread pear-apple butter on one slice of cheddar.
  3. Close it up and butter the outsides of the bread.
  4. Griddle on medium-high heat until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown.


prosciutto-wrapped honeyed pears and arugula

Last week, my leftovers were so fancy, I had to put earrings on.

I made myself a schmancy-ass pizza, so I had schmancy-ass leftovers. Handsome Greg brought pasta from D’Amico for our standing Saturday night date, and I MacGyvered my leftover prosciutto, pear, and arugula into an adorable appetizer.

I wanted to do a simple bite – pear slices and arugula wrapped in prosciutto – but the pear was quite under ripe. It worked fine roasted on a pizza, but it was not all that palatable raw. So I decided to sear the pear slices in olive oil and braise them in honey.

The resulting bite was delicious, but very soft. I would’ve liked a little something crispy in there. Next time, I’d start with a ripe bosc pear, drizzle it with honey, and keep it raw. As prepared below, I thought it could’ve used a bit more salt in the pears, and maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Recipe below the fold

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prosciutto, pear, and goat cheese pizza with arugula and wild blackberry honey

In the one short month since I began blogging about what I’m cooking, the way I cook and eat has already changed. Rather than cooking my usual fare and then writing about it, I’m thinking about what would make a good blog post, what would make a pretty photograph, and then cooking it.

Last Friday, I had a quiet evening in by myself. I was planning to heat up the last of the pasta e fagioli for dinner (and eat it on the couch directly from the plastic container), when I remembered that leftover pizza dough in the freezer from the fried parmesan croutons.

I went a little wild. I decided to make a nice, pretty pizza with rather extravagant toppings. Just for me. I know!

I had a travel-size bottle of the world’s most delicious wild blackberry honey to drizzle on top. Mom brought it back for me when she was visiting my brother and his family in Seattle last summer, and I’d been saving it in the pantry for something special. I ran to Rainbow and picked up a bosc pear, a few slices of prosciutto (yeah, you can buy prosciutto by the slice at the deli counter–don’t judge), arugula, and goat cheese.

And I made myself a perfectly lovely little pizza, that I ate at the dining room table, using my nice dishes, wearing pants. OK, sweatpants. But still!

It felt a little funny to prepare such a nice little pizza when I had no company to share it with, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Jenni Ferrari-Adler summed it up perfectly in her intro to Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant:

A good meal is like a present, and it can feel goofy, at best, to give yourself a present. On the other hand, there is something life affirming in taking the trouble to feed yourself well, or even decently. Cooking for yourself allows you to be strange or decadent or both. The chances of you liking what you made are high, but if it winds up being disgusting, you can always throw it away and order a pizza; no one will ever know.

Recipe below the fold

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