As much as I love Fall, it doesn’t feel like it’s official until I’ve made one of my favorite desserts of ALL time, Ina Garten’s mouth wateringly delicious Pear Clafouti.
Somehow the heavenly aroma of ripe Bartlett pears, sugar, vanilla, pear brandy and lemon zest baking away in the oven makes it truly official for me, despite what the calendar might say. So if you’re looking to ring in the season with something sweet this month, this delightful recipe is the perfect choice and it also couldn’t be easier to make.
And if you’ve never “clafoutied” before (YES, it can be used as a verb), a clafouti is essentially a French dessert which originated in the Limousin region of Southwest France. It features sliced fruit (traditionally cherries but pears are in season longer), arranged in a buttered dish which are then covered with a custard-like batter and baked until golden brown. The clafouti is then dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served warm or at room temperature. Honestly, I’ll take it any way I can get it, it’s THAT delicious!
And while Ina’s recipe already has pear brandy baked into it, this Pear Clafouti also happens to pair deliciously well with one of my new favorite dessert wines, the Barboursville Vineyards Passito from Virginia ($32/375mL). Yes – V I R G I N I A!
This wine is a blend of Moscato Ottonel and Vidal grapes which were air dried in order to concentrate their flavor and sugars. The dried grapes were then pressed and the resulting juice underwent a lengthy fermentation with additional time on the lees to accentuate the wine’s mouthfeel. The result is a viscous, luscious wine with notes of spiced pear, candied citrus and vanilla which still retains a bright acidity and lightness to balance its sweetness.
If you find yourself hankering for something other than pumpkin spice to satisfy your sweet tooth and put you in the Fall spirit, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Just be sure you also have some of your favorite vanilla ice cream on hand to round out the experience (Haagen-Dazs is the BOMB!).
I really hope you enjoy this recipe for Pear Clafouti and do YOU have a favorite Fall dessert OR dessert wine you look forward to all year? If so, I’d love to know so please let me know in the Comments section below.
Looking for the perfect hors d’oeuvres for guests to nibble while they await your fabulous holiday feast? Try these delicious Rosemary Cashews from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa).
Inspired by the bar nuts served at Union Square Cafe in New York City, these delicious, savory cashews are perfect for holiday entertaining. They are insanely tasty, take under ten minutes to prepare and can be made the day ahead and kept in an airtight container. They will prime your guests’ palates without filling them up and, coincidentally, pair beautifully with a festive glass of Champagne.
While Ina recommends serving the Rosemary Cashews warm, I actually like to make them at least a few hours ahead or the day before. This allows the rosemary mixture to cool and adhere to the cashews better. Go ahead and try it both ways and you be the judge! I must caution you though, they are extremely addictive so only make them when you have a houseful of people coming over so you don’t eat them all yourself. Trust me, I speak from experience!
Also, if you’re looking for a special, homemade culinary gift to give your foodie friends and neighbors for the holidays, these Rosemary Cashews are an excellent choice. Simply package them in a classic Mason jar finished with colorful, festive fabric or paper and tied with a raffia bow and you’re good to go.
I hope you and your guests enjoy these ever-so tasty Rosemary Cashews and I’d like to wish you all a very Happy & Delicious Holidays!
If your goal is to dazzle your Valentine with a delicious home cooked meal without undoing all the good, healthy eating you did in January, this menu is just the ticket!
As a big fan of Ina Garten, I was delighted to see this menu from her that’s packed with flavor yet also leans towards the healthier side of things. It includes Mustard-Roasted Fish accompanied by Roasted Vegetables followed by Coeur à la Crème with Raspberries for dessert. Sound difficult? Actually each one of these recipes is pretty darn easy, you just need to let the fresh ingredients speak for themselves.
For the Mustard Roasted Fish, pick up some fresh red snapper filets from your favorite fishmonger. The rest of the preparation involves simply mixing together the remaining ingredients including creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, capers, shallots and salt and pepper and spreading the mixture over the fish before baking it in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. As the fish bakes it makes its own delicious sauce and comes out looking beautiful! As long as you don’t overcook it, you’re all good.
The Oven Roasted Vegetables that accompany the fish include fennel, fingerling potatoes (I used purple potatoes for extra color), haricorts verts (French string beans) and asparagus. Again, you want to purchase the freshest ingredients you can find since they are the stars of the show! Be sure to start by cooking the firmer veggies (potatoes and fennel) first and adding the string beans and asparagus at the end. These more delicate vegetables only need about 10-15 minutes of roasting, any longer and they may burn or get too mushy.
As if the delicious dinner wasn’t enough, now it’s time to dazzle your sweetheart with dessert: Coeur à la Crème with Raspberries. “Coeur à la Crème” is French for “heart of cream” and this dish is made using a specially formed, heart-shaped mold which is easily found at specialty cookware stores including Sur la Table. This dessert can be made a day ahead which is always convenient and frees up your time for Valentine’s gift shopping and other important things. The “Coeur” is made from a mixture of cream cheese, heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean and lemon zest which is combined and left to sit in the mold overnight in the refrigerator, wrapped in cheesecloth. When you’re ready to serve it, simply unmold the cream onto a plate and spoon the raspberry sauce around the base and garnish with a few raspberries and ooh la la – let the compliments begin!
If you’re looking for the perfect wine to serve with this delicious feast, I recommend a rosé sparkling wine or Champagne. Not only do these sparklers make a lovely presentation, they are also delicious and pair remarkably well with food. To see The Wine Atelier’s Valentine’s Day Recommendations, please click here. Also, to access any of Ina’s recipes, please click here.
Wishing you all a very Happy, Delicious and Romantic Valentine’s Day!
Thanksgiving is less than a week away – do you have your turkey recipe and wine pairings all picked out? If not, never fear! The Glamorous Gourmet is here to help you out of your culinary quandary. First, let’s talk wine:
Trying to find a wine to pair with such an extensive and diverse group of flavors can cause a common vinous affliction known as WPP aka Wine Pairing Paralysis. With the cacophony of flavors and textures involved in a meal designed to stuff you until bursting, what wine could possibly (1) complement the meal, (2) appeal to a variety of palates and (3) not break the bank? Here are a few tips and recommendations to help make the process a little easier for Thanksgiving or any other holiday meal:
#1 When presented with dishes such as roasted turkey, caramelized onion and cornbread stuffing, cranberry compote, sweet potato casserole and Brussels sprouts at the same meal, the best wines to select (and guests too I might add) are those that “play nicely with others.” Choose wines that are fruit-forward with a food-friendly acidity that will not only stimulate your taste buds but “do no harm” to your already flavor filled meal. Hold off on tannic Cabernet Sauvignons or heavily oaked Chardonnays and opt instead for wines that are lighter in style like the 2012 Hahn Pinot Gris from Monterey, California ($14) or for reds, the Art + Farm’s The Messenger Red Wine Number One, NV ($16), also from California.
#2 The same principles apply when trying to satisfy a variety of palates at your holiday gathering. Avoiding wines with harsh tannins and heavy oak influence is usually a good game plan. Select a fruity, approachable Alsatian white wine or crisp, sparkling wine like Prosecco to appease your guests. While universally appealing, these wines will also complement the flavors in your meal beautifully. Try the Helfrich Gewürztraminer, Alsace, France, 2011 ($14) or the BiancaVigna Prosecco DOC, Veneto, Italy, NV ($15). For a red, try the elegant Copain “Les Voisins” Pinot Noir, 2010 ($42) from California’s Anderson Valley.
#3 We all know holidays like Thanksgiving can involve feeding a small army of family and friends; however, finding an appropriate wine to serve doesn’t have to break the bank. Choose wines from regions known for producing great values at reasonable prices and save your Classified Growth Bordeaux and California cult collectibles for another occasion! Stock up on your favorite value wines and have them on hand when guests drop by for some “holiday cheer.” Great examples include this duo from Domaine de Triennes, the Sainte Fleur Viognier, 2011 ($16) or for red, the St. Auguste, 2008 ($22) a blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot fermented in 2-6 year old barrels from Domaine Dujac in Burgundy.
Also, if you’re still not sure which turkey recipe to try, I’m happy to share two of my all time favorites that are sure to please a crowd. The first is a classic recipe from Chef Tyler Florence for Oven Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter. The sage butter is slathered over the bird and under the skin and makes this turkey the most beautiful shade of mahogany you have ever seen! Have your camera ready because you will be snapping photos right and left. After years of going through all the trouble of brining my bird, I made this recipe one year and was hooked. In addition to creating beautiful color, the copious amount of butter also keeps the bird from drying out so brining was no longer necessary. You can also still make gravy from the drippings, see below for a wonderful gravy recipe. If you do make this turkey recipe you must also make the Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing that pairs with it. It is mouth wateringly delicious and I highly recommend cooking the stuffing in the bird, there is just no substitute. In case all the delicious stuffing doesn’t fit, be sure to have a buttered casserole dish on hand to bake the excess.
If you’re looking for a bird that’s a little different from the classic preparation, The Barefoot Contessa’s Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter is simply out of this world! The white truffle butter enhances the flavor of the turkey so beautifully yet the bird never seems overly “truffled.” My husband Steve is not the biggest truffle fan and yet he loved this recipe. If you choose to make this turkey you also have to make the best gravy I’ve ever tasted, which is also an Ina Garten recipe. Her delicious Homemade Gravy includes Cognac in addition to white wine, heavy cream and the drippings from the bird which synergize to create pure deliciousness. This gravy also works well with the aforementioned Oven Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter.
I hope you enjoy these Thanksgiving wine pairing suggestions and recipes! All the wines mentioned in this post are available at The Wine Atelier and we’d be happy to consult with you on your Thanksgiving menu as well. You can always text or call 561.317.6663 with your food and/or wine pairing questions. Steve and I would also like to wish you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.