Kevin and I hosted a fun Saturday evening in Los Feliz for Tony and Julie a few weekends ago, basking in the warm afternoon sun cocktail in-hand on the outdoor patio of Katsuya at the Americana followed by a fun four-course homemade dinner courtesy of Kevin and yours truly.
Apologies in advance for the poor photo quality and plating, as I used my phone’s camera and only briefly had the food on a plate before we shoveled it down our throats. Classy bunch, I know. No time for fluff and positioning when there was food to be eaten!
To start, we put together a simple cheese and charcuterie board with Supreme brie (my fav), a gouda-cheddar blend, red wine (chianti) salami from Trader Joe’s, and a Trader Joe’s prosciutto (my absolut fav storebought prosciutto). We threw in some granny smith apple slices, and wheat and flax crackers. Tony apparently is a big chocolate beer guy, so Kevin decided to pick up a couple of chocolate stouts for the boys to try.
For the second course, we made a simple arugula salad topped with homemade candied walnuts, julienne fuji apple, and shaved (not grated!) parmesan cheese, all drizzled over with a homemade brown sugar balsamic vinaigrette (1/4 C balsamic vinegar, 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 C olive oil, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fine black pepper – whisked together and sitting for at least an hour).
For the entree, we did a wheat rotini pasta dish with simple grilled shrimp, pan-friend kale, and Trader Joe’s sundried tomato. We also added a touch of Trader Giotto’s Organic Vodka sauce to add a little bit of moisture to the dish – Kevin’s genius idea.
And now for the real subject matter of this post – dessert! I wanted to make something that we could make and eat right away, rather than the types of things I typically make in advance (i.e., cupcakes, cookies, bars, etc.). Also, baking at Kevin’s means either needing to be self-sufficient as far as not needing the typical tools and machinery goes, or bringing all the machinery myself. We settled on a vanilla poached pear recipe (below) as adapted from one I found on Smitten Kitchen.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4-5 slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored (I used Bosc)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.
2. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.
3. Roast the pears for minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer. A paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance.
4. Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan over vanilla ice cream.
I LOVED this recipe – it’s a nice light dessert that I could eat probably every day. When (not “if”) I make this again, I might substitute the white sugar for a little less than the same amount of brown sugar just to get a little more of a molassesy-sticky texture to the glaze. MMM