Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Indulging in autumn

The weather is swinging between crisp and soggy lately... the leaves have turned and the trees are slowly growing more bare, and the smell of approaching winter becomes a little more pronounced each day.

Gone are the days of market-fresh tomato sandwiches and sweet, ripe figs by the flat. Ahead lay... well, I prefer not to dwell on what lies ahead just yet. :P So for the moment I'm indulging in the goodies of autumn... pumpkin (in _everything_!), apples (preferably dipped in caramel), stews and casseroles and mugs of hot tea or cider.

For dinner, I made some serious comfort food, Chicken Lilly. I think most everyone has made (or at least tried) a variation of this recipe at some point... chicken cooked with some combination of cream soup and cheese and a starch. In this case, cream of mushroom soup, swiss cheese and some stuffing mix. I got this recipe from my mom years ago and I do not make it often... it is dangerously caloric and not very friendly to the lactose intolerant. But is it ever good.

For dessert, I decided to take advantage of the bounty of pears at the store right now and try something new... Wine Roasted Pears. I've always wanted to make them but have never really had the chance (or found the excuse). We had a half a bottle of leftover white wine in the fridge and at the store they had Abate Fetel pears on sale... i think it's a sign the universe wants me to have them for dessert tonight.

I used the recipe found over at Pastry Studio which calls for white wine as opposed to the usual red. I happened to have some Aufkellereien white in the fridge (a simple, inexpensive but really tasty German table wine) though I was a little short of the 2 cups it calls for. I did, however, have some vermouth on hand so simply used that to top up the missing amount of wine. It is, after all, simply fortified wine, and the slight herb-y (herb-ish? herb-esque!) taste should go nicely with the pears, and indeed it did.

The recipe was quite simple, letting the pears take center stage, and it was an easy dish to prepare as it did its thing in the oven while we had dinner. I chose to peel and core the pears before roasting which made it easier to eat (no need to eat around or remove stems and pips after), though the presentation did suffer a bit for it. I also made the mistake of roasting them in a narrow, deep dish which meant the pears stewed more than roasted; there were only a few edges that got any color. This isn't a bad thing, mind you... pears stewed in wine is an absolutely delicious dessert... it's just not quite as dramatic on the plate ;) This is an elegant and satisfying autumn dessert, though I would suggest a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg and a dollop of cream if you're feeling fancy.

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