Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spiced Pear Cake

This cake is the perfect thing to make with all the fresh, ripe, local pears that are in season right now. It is so wonderfully divine that I was hard pressed to share this with my family. I could have happily ate the whole thing myself. It also makes for a lovely treat for breakfast, if you have any left over, that is.

I used ripe Bartlett pears for this cake since that is what I had on hand. It made this cake very sweet and soft. Bosc pears would very work well, they hold their shape when cooked and do not have that candy sweetness that ripe Bartlett's do. Any pear variety will work.

Serves 10

11 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice (or nutmeg if you prefer)
1/4 tsp salt
2 lg eggs
2/3 cup milk

Place 3 Tbsp of the butter in a 9-inch round cake pan. Place the pan in the oven while preheating it to 325°. When the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Place pear slices in a fan pattern in the bottom of the pan, overlapping if needed.

In a medium sized bowl whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, cloves, allspice and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric beater, beat remaining 8 Tbsp butter with the remaining 1 cup of sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add half the flour mixture and mix it in. Then mix all the milk, followed by the remaining flour. Beat just until smooth. Pour batter over the fanned pear slices in the pan.

Bake the cake at 325° for 1 hour, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake then invert onto a plate. Remove the pan, replacing any pear slices stuck to the pan, and allow to cool slightly.

Serve warm with freshly whipped cream if you like.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meatball Kale Soup

I was in the kitchen the other afternoon. It was a Thursday, with my market shopping Saturday still two days away. I was looking at what dwindling fresh produce I had left in the refrigerator and trying to come up with something for dinner. One bunch of kale, a couple turnips, a few carrots and a pound of hamburger meat. Hmm.... So this is what I came up with. I was delighted with my results, it was so good! My husband, who had been working late and hadn't watched me prepare it, even had to ask me where I got the meatballs; he said they looked so perfect and were so tasty that I must have bought them from the store. I smiled and said,

"No store bought, factory made, frozen meatballs for my family, I'm a homemaker and I have plenty of time to actually cook for my family."

Pair this soup with some nice thick slices of freshly made whole wheat bread and you've got the perfect Autumn dinner for your table.

A note about the meatballs: The one pound of hamburger made 33 one inch meatballs, way too many for my soup to handle. I ended up putting 17 meatballs into my soup (a little less then what my recipe says below because I have two little boys who don't eat much.) While the soup was simmering, I cooked up the rest of the meatballs in a skillet and then froze them for use in a future meal.

Another note about the beef base: I keep a jar of beef base in my refrigerator. I make a lot of soups and other things that require broth. I have found the Better Than Bouillon paste products to be the best tasting broths or stocks out there, hands down 100% better than something out of a can. I find this at my local Costco; it carries the organic reduced sodium base that I like the best.

Soup Serves 4


1 lb. ground hamburger
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
a few sprinkles of garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lg egg

Into a large bowl, put the hamburger, bread crumbs, spices and Worcestershire sauce. In a small, tall-sided bowl, beat the egg until good and frothy with a wire whisk. Add the egg to the hamburger and mix up all ingredients with a fork.

With clean hands (free of wedding rings and such) pinch off just enough hamburger mixture to measure about an inch. Without putting pressure on it, roll the hamburger in a circle between the palms of your hands until you have a uniform 1 inch round meatball. Place onto a large rimmed cookie sheet. Repeat until all meatballs are made. You should have about 32-33 meatballs when done. Place the sheet into the refrigerator until ready to use.


1 celery rib, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped

1 small onion, chopped
12 c. water
8 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
2 turnips, chopped
1 small bunch of kale, well rinsed and shredded

In a dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped celery, carrots and onion and saute them for 5 minutes. Add the beef base paste and warm, stirring, for about a minute. Then add the 12 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Once the soup begins to boil add the turnips, kale and drop in 20 meatballs. Bring back to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Serve with a hunk of whole grain bread.