Maple poached pears

We serve these pears at breakfast, but they make a delicious, light dessert, chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6.

2 cups apple cider
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup (the real stuff)
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 ripe, but firm, pears (we prefer bosc)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup yogurt, preferably Greek-style
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
mint sprigs (for garnish)

In large skillet, bring 1 cup maple syrup, cider and spices to a boil; cook 10 minutes and remove from heat.  While liquid is cooking, halve pears lengthwise and peel. Using melon baller or paring knife, scoop out core. 

After the liquid has cooked ten minutes, place the pears into the poaching liquid. Add enough water to barely cover the pears with liquid. Bring back to boil, lower the heat, and simmer, turning occasionally and spooning liquid over the pears, until they are just tender, about 15-20 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pear.  Remove the pears from the poaching liquid.  Raise the heat under the poaching liquid to high, and boil until it is reduced by half. 

Meanwhile, when the pear halves are cool enough to handle, place them, cut-side down, on a cutting board and make 1/4″ lengthwise vertical slices from the small end almost to the end of the large end of the pear, leaving enough uncut at the large end to hold the half together (see picture). Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks; gently whisk in the yogurt, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and powdered sugar.

To serve, place one pear half on a dessert plate and gently press to spread out the slices. Pour a tablespoon or two of the reduced poaching liquid over the pears, put a dollup of the whipped cream/yogurt mixure on the side, and garnish with a mint leaf.

The poaching of the pears and reduction of the liquid can be done several hours ahead. Cover the pears with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes

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These are a favorite in the fall.

If you wish, you can sprinkle chopped, candied pecans over the top of the cooked pancakes (as in the photograph), rather than putting toasted pecans in the batter.

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinammon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
3 large eggs, separated
2 tbs sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs unsalted butter

1.  Roughly chop pecans and spread over baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp and lightly browned.
2.  In large bowl mix together sugar, spice, baking powder, soda, and salt.
3.  Melt butter and set aside.
4. Whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, egg yolks and vanilla.
5. Stir melted butter into pumpkin mixture and gently fold into dry ingredients.
6. Beat egg whites with 2 tbs sugar to form soft peaks; fold into pumpkin batter with pecans.
IMG_16727. Lightly butter griddle and heat to medium (350 degrees).  Spoon pancake batter onto griddle as cakes a bit less than 4 inches in diameter (they will spread) and cook until they begin to puff and brown lightly on the bottom. Flip for another miute or two, until bottom is lightly browned and cakes are fully cooked. Serve with maple syrup.

Serves 4; about 16-20 pancakes.

World’s best blueberry muffins

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 We’ve probably made close to 10,000 of these muffins over the past 12 years. If you can find them, use the small wild blueberries; the large “high bush” berries pop while cooking and leave goey spots in the muffins. Frozen Maine berries (we use Wyman’s when we can’t get fresh) work just as well as fresh, but don’t thaw them prior to mixing them into the batter.
3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup whole milk
grated rind of one orange
2 cups blueberries

Preheat over to 375. Grease 12 muffin cups. Mix first four ingredients together. Whisk together milk, eggs, melted butter and orange rind. Stir dry and wet ingredients together to barely moisten; do not overmix; a bit of flour showing in the mixture is not a problem. Gently fold in fresh or frozen berries (don’t thaw frozen berries). Spoon batter into greased tins; they will be almost full. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from pan after about 5 minutes.

Note:  you can get a head start on morning muffins the night before by mixing together the dry ingredients and — separately — the eggs, milk, and orange rind.  Refrigerate the wet ingredients.  In the morning, melt the butter, add to the wet ingredients and follow the recipe for mixing with the dry ingredients and baking.

Yield: 1 dozen large muffins