Ricotta Cream Pear Tart

I just love it when Victor disappears into the kitchen after dinner.  Actually, I love it any time Victor is in the kitchen, but when it's after dinner, that means dessert is being made.  And I ♥ dessert.

We had a pie crust left over from the other day when I made the walnut pie (if I'm making a crust, I'm making two of them!) so last night Victor decided on a pear tart - since we also had a couple of pears that were really ripe.

What was especially good about this was instead of making a custard for the filling, he whipped heavy cream and ricotta cheese together!  Really!

He whipped about a cup of heavy cream with about 3/4 cup ricotta, a quarter-cup of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Our measuring skills can leave a bit to be desired, at times.  He eyeballed it all but this is is approximation.

He first par-baked the crust in a tart pan for about 20 minutes.  When it was cool, he brushed it with melted chocolate.  Next went the whipped ricotta cream, and then he topped it with thinly-sliced pears.  And a bit of a chocolate drizzle for fun.

It really was outrageously good!

And even better - there's more for tonight!

Sometimes the most simple things really are the best.  I love to get crazy and complicated now and again, but, really... it's especially nice to be able to taste and enjoy every ingredient on its own and as part of the whole.  The tart was just that - I could taste everything, but everything blended perfectly.

I'm trying to keep this as my mantra for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I'll let ya know on the 25th if I was successful...




Pork Tenderloin with Cherries

I had a few cherries left - maybe a cup and a half - that were close to losing their oomph.  Not being able to let things go to waste, I thought a cherry sauce on a pork tenderloin would be a fun way to use them up.

A million or so years ago I worked at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe.   I was hired as a cook at their gourmet lakeside restaurant, Hugo's Rotisserie.  Hugo's signature dish was the rotisserie duck.  Unbelievably good, it came as a classic l'orage, with a green peppercorn sauce, and a magnificent cherry sauce, among others...  I think we used Montmorencies, but I'm not really sure.  It was 1976.  The fact that I remember I lived at Take Tahoe at all is rather remarkable.

That sauce had our hand-made demi-glace, kirsch, the cherries... it was silken-smooth and studded with perfectly-halved cherries.  As it should be in a gourmet resort hotel restaurant.

I knew I wasn't about to replicate that sauce but I also knew "savory" and "cherry" went very well together.  I had several directions I could go.

I decided a bit spicy-sweet was the way to go...

Cherry Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cup cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Saute onion, garlic, and peppers in a bit of olive oil until wilted.  Add tomato paste and cook to remove raw tomato taste.  Add cumin and cook to remove raw taste.  Add tomatoes, wine, and vinegar.  mix well.

Add cherries and heat through.  Mash some cherries to release juices.

Check for seasoning and ass salt and pepper, as desired.

The flavor-profile was at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hugo's, but it worked really well.  The slightly-southwestern spices with the sweet cherries was a fun combination.  And it worked perfectly with a grilled pork tenderloin.



Apple Cranberry Phyllo Rolls

This one got away from me.  I really didn't plan to make two huge phyllo rolls.  But  when you have a one-pound box of frozen phyllo dough thawed, you use it.  It's not like it's going to be any good next week.

So...  I made two huge phyllo rolls.

And my-oh-my did they come out good!   We're definitely set with desserts for a while.

I love phyllo but just don't use it enough.  It's good savory, it's good sweet.  You can fill it with absolutely anything.

This recipe came about because I had just picked up a couple of apples at the store and had a bag of cranberries sitting in the 'fridge.  The phyllo has been in the freezer for a couple of weeks.  Time to use stuff!

Buttering every other phyllo layer gives it a bit more substance - and actually cuts down on the calories considerably.  Not that I did it for that reason... I wanted a bit more chew in the center and a bit less crumbly.  I should freeze one for Thanksgiving...

Cranberry Apple Phyllo Rolls

Makes 2

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 cups finely-chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the apples, cranberries, brown sugar and spices in a heavy covered skilletand cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. Cool to room temperature.

Mix walnuts and demerara sugar.

Layer 2 sheets of the phyllo on table and brush with butter. Sprinkle with walnut and sugar mixture. Repeat three times for a total of 4 2-sheet layers per roll.

Heap the apple mixture along (one end if square, long end if rectangular) of the phyllo dough.  Carefully roll up, enclosing filling.  Place seam-side down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush top with butter and sprinkle with additional demerara sugar.

Bake for 35-40  min minutes. Cool and slice.

Seriously.  I have two.  I need to freeze one!

Peaches and Puff Pastry

I had about six peaches that needed using up and a package of puff pastry in the freezer.  Almost-instant dessert!

Just for grins and giggles, I actually peeled the peaches - something I rarely do.  And they were so sweet I didn't even add sugar to them!

I peeled and sliced them and then mixed them with 3 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp melted butter.  Nothing else.

I placed 'em in the baking dish, topped it with the puff pastry, and placed it in a 400° oven for 35 minutes.


Peach Pie

The baking gods were smiling down upon me for this one.  This came out just like they always should - and rarely do.

The crust was perfectly flaky (just like me!)  and the filling was rich and flavorful -and- held its shape without being pasty.  Just like it's supposed to!

I used 4 peaches and 2 apricots - because that's what was in the house.  But any combination would work.

A bit of pastry flour helps to lighten the crust a bit and make it more tender.  If you don't have any, just use the flour you have.

Peach Pie


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup pastry/cake flour
  • 2  sticks butter, frozen
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Using a food processor, add flours, salt, and sugar.  Pulse to mix.

Chop up frozen butter and add.  Pulse until butter is incorporated and mixture looks grainy.

Slowly add ice water and pulse until mixed.

Turn out onto counter.  Press and form mixture into two disks - one larger and one smaller (bottom crust, top crust).    Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about an hour to allow the flour to properly absorb the water and to relax the gluten.

Roll out bottom crust and place in pie plate.

Make Filling.

  • 4 peaches and 2 apricots (or any combination)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cut peaches into chunks.  (I very rarely peel fruit.)  Place into bowl and then add sugar, flour, and spices.  Mix very well - until filling is a bit gluey.  Add melted butter and mix well.  Pour into crust.

Roll out top crust and place over top.  Seal edges and make a decorative crimp, if desired.

Cut vent holes in top crust and bake about 1 hour to an hour and 10 minutes or so.

Cover crust with a bit of foil if it gets too brown.

Guaranteed good!

The food processor really does make the quickest and easiest pie crust.  I used to use 3:1 butter to shortening back in the day, but I've found that the all-butter food processor crust is every bit as light, flaky, and tender without the partially-hydrogenated fats.  2 tbsp butter per serving isn't exactly health food to begin with.

But boy was it good!

Caramelized Peach Upside-Down Cake

I've been lovin' the peaches.  Plums and apricots used to be my favorite summer fruits, but I just can't abide the things being sold back here.  Dry, flavorless, and never-ripening.  The peaches - yellow peaches - on the other hand, have been pretty good.

I had just a couple left and wanted to use them up for dessert tonight, so I thought I'd peruse some old Gourmet magazines.  I found a good one from 2004.

Caramelized Peach Upside-Down Cake

To prevent the caramelized peaches from sticking to the parchment paper, unmold these flavorful little cakes while they're still warm.

Active time: 50 min Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr


  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/4 lb medium peaches (about 4)
  • 9 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Special equipment: a muffin tin with 6 large (1-cup) muffin cups; parchment paper


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt 2 teaspoons butter, then brush muffin cups with some of it. Chill muffin tin 2 minutes to set butter. Line bottom of each muffin cup with a round of parchment paper, then brush cups and parchment with remaining melted butter and chill 2 minutes more. Divide 1 teaspoon flour among muffin cups and shake to coat, knocking out excess flour.

Cut an X in bottom of each peach and immerse peaches in a large pot of boiling water until skins loosen, about 15 seconds. Transfer peaches with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to cool. Peel peaches, then pit and halve lengthwise. Cut peach halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut slices crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.

Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then stir in 3 tablespoons brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is melted and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Carefully add a scant 2 cups peaches (caramel will splatter and sugar will seize), reserving remaining 1/3 cup peaches, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peaches are tender and caramel is syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon cooked peaches and caramel evenly into muffin cups.

Purée reserved peaches in a blender until smooth. Beat together eggs, salt, almond extract, and remaining 6 tablespoons brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until mixture is creamy and tripled in volume, 3 to 5 minutes in a stand mixer or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld. Reduce speed to low, then add puréed peaches and mix until just combined. Sift remaining 6 tablespoons flour evenly over egg mixture and fold in gently but thoroughly until just combined.

Spoon batter over caramelized peaches and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in muffin tin on a rack 2 to 3 minutes, then invert a platter over muffin tin and flip cakes onto platter while still warm. Reposition any peaches that have stuck to parchment and serve cakes warm or at room temperature.

In typical Gourmet fashion, the recipe is a bit convoluted and unnecessarily complex.  I reproduced it verbatim, so read through it first.  It's actually quite easy.

And yummy.

Feed-A-Cold Peach Cake

Feed a cold, starve a fever.  That's what we learned as kids.  So I'm feeding this cold, whether I can fully taste it, or not.

It's just a basic yellow cake with fresh peaches mixed in, whipped cream on top, and a half-peach sliced atop that.

Really simple.  Really good.

I even broke down and used a cake mix tonight.  Shocking, I know, but illness does require sacrifice.  I have actually found *one* store-brand cake mix without partially-hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup.  And it's only the yellow.  All the others have mega-crap in them.  Of course, all of the national brands have 'em and I don't buy 'em.

One thing to note...  When you add things like fresh fruit chucks to cake batter, they will sink to the bottom unless you coat them with flour before gently stirring in.  99% of the time I don't bother, but if you want the fruit to be more-or-less evenly disperseed throughout the layer, you should.

Dinner done.  Dessert done.  I'm off to bed.  I need to make an appearance at work tomorrow.

Chocolate Banana Pie


Think OMG delicious!  And then multiply it.  That's what you get when Victor heads into the kitchen and makes a clean out the refrigerator pie!  This was last night's dessert that I didn't get posted.

The cookie crust started out as the chocolate chip cookies I made last week and froze.  The chocolate pudding to use up some whole milk we had on hand from making ice cream, the bananas were getting to the use me today or make banana bread tomorrow stage...

And then we topped it with whipped cream.

It didn't come out of the pie plate in perfect wedges.  But it didn't matter.

It rocked!

And there's more for tonight.

Peach and Almond Upside-Down Cake

The day is just not complete without dessert at our house.

Oh...  I know that I'd be doing much better at the Friday weigh-in if I forsook  this nightly ritual, but... ya know what?!?  Life is about living, not being a size 3.

So tonight, with some absolutely delicious peaches in the house, I decided on a peach upside down cake.

I found a recipe at Epicurious using peaches and pecans, but I didn't have any pecans in the house and had lots of almonds and almond meal.

I have to say that it totally rocked.  The cake was unbelievably good, the peaches perfect, and the almonds added just the right amount of crunch.

Peach and Almond Upside-Down Cake

For peach and pecan topping:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 peaches cut into 8 wedges

For cake:

  • 1 1/2 cupsall purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk


Peach and Pecan Topping:

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar; whisk until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Pour mixture into 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; spread evenly over bottom of pan.  Arrange peach wedges,  covering pan bottom. Sprinkle with almonds.


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 6 ingredients. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until butter is pale, about 4 minutes. Whisk eggs and vanilla in small bowl until well blended. Add egg mixture to butter mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop almonds and peaches in pan; spread evenly and gently.

Bake cake until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool in pan 25 to 30 minutes (do not cool longer or peach layer may stick to pan). Run small knife around sides of cake to loosen. Invert onto serving platter.  Cool.

Thrillin' Grillin'

Let the grillin' begin!

I couldn't resist doing a full-grill dinner tonight.  It's been a while since I had the surface area I needed to do a complete meal.  As much as I've been lovin' that charcoal, I know I'm gonna be lovin' the gas even more.  What can I say?!?  I'm getting old and lazy.

Grilled pork chops with a peach and ginger marinade, grilled potatoes, grilled peaches, grilled apricots, and grilled baby broccoli. Grillin' heaven.

There were two stand-outs in tonight's dinner - the peaches and the marinade!  The marinade is cooked, part is chilled and used for marinating the pork chops.  The rest is boiled down to a syrupy consistency and used to finish everything off.  Yum.

The concept for the marinade came from Bon Appetit.

Peach and Ginger Marinade

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 peach, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until wilted. Add sugar and sauté until onion is golden.

Add peach and cook until softened.

Add remaining ingredients, bring to boil, and let cook a few minutes.

Strain mixture.  Chill 1/2 cup (to marinate pork) and return remainder to clean saucepan.  Bring back to boil and reduce to half or until thickened and syrupy.

Marinate chops in chilled marinade for about an hour before grilling.

Brush thickened marinade over finished pork chops and grilled peaches and apricots.

I rarely peel anything, so the peach went skin and all into the sauce.  I also grilled the peaches with their skin.  I brushed them and the apricots with a bit of the sauce before grilling and again on the plate.  The peaches were pretty much the star of dinner.  I haven't grilled peaches in probably a year.  I forgot just how fabulous they can be!

The potatoes were quartered, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper.  I used a grill basket for them with indirect heat.  The grill cover was the perfect oven.  The baby broccoli was drizzled with a bit of balsamic and lightly sprinkled with Italian seasoning.  No sense trying to add a lot of competing flavors with that marinade and sauce.

All-in-all, a great inaugural dinner.

I think we're going to have a lot of fun this summer!

Oh - and for those keeping track.  No gain, no loss this week.  Stayed the same.  I'm bettin' it had to do with ice cream.....

Raspberry Scrippelle

I've gone from never hearing about a crepelle or scrippelle in my life to getting several sweet and savory recipes in a matter of a couple of weeks.

The first came from La Cucina Italiana magazine - a Raspberry and Apple Crepe, and the second from Lidia Bastianich's latest book Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy.

I knew after making Lidia's Crepelle with Spinach that the crepes would be wonderful as a sweet as well as a savory.

Tonight was the night to put it to test.

This is definitely in the category of "Wing-It Recipes".

I made the crepes from Lidia's recipe, cutting it in half.

For the filling, I took about 3/4 cup of ricotta and mixed it with a teaspoon of sugar and about a tablespoon of marsala.

I spread a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each crepelle and sprinkled on fresh raspberries and then folded them into quarters.

For the topping, I mixed about a half-cup of sour cream with a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.  I topped each plate with some, added more raspberries, and then sprinkled cocoa powder on top.

They are thicker than a French crepe which is good for holding up to the fillings and folding.

I see a lot more possibilities.....


We don't get a leftover backlog very often, because when we have them, Victor usually eats them for lunch.   Alas, he's been looking to lose that elusive 10 pounds and has been eating a bit lighter... cottage cheese and fruit and that sort of fun summer stuff.  Great for him, but hell on my dinner planning.  I mean, there's just no way I can continue to make new stuff if there's old stuff backing up in the 'fridge.

So...  those pork chops are on hold for one more night.  Tonight was a revisit with the Mexican Spaghetti Pie and a nice salad.  It's great to see those tupperware containers get emptied out.

Part of the salad was leftovers, also - the last of the Corn and Barley salad from Sunday. The rest of the salad was random odds and ends from the vegetable bin.  It's getting a good clean-out, as well.

And really, this is what cooking is all about.  Taking stock of what you have and making a good meal out of it.  It's not that difficult to grab a recipe, go to the store and buy the exact ingredients you need, and come home and make it.  It's also not that difficult to open the 'fridge and create something with the odds and ends already in the house.  My thought process has always been the worst thing that can happen is I throw it all out and call for pizza.

Well...  while I do admit there have been a few things I probably won't make again, I've never had to call for pizza.

And dessert is a bit of a leftover, as well.  Fruit Cobbler Victor made last night.

It was great...  Cinnamon biscuits atop peaches, pears, blueberries...  a bit of a clean-out-the-'fridge-dessert to begin with!

Leftovers are my friend.