Roasted Pears with Wine

roasted pears

Yes, this photo is slightly out of focus, but I maintain that it is because of the delectable pear steam wafting off these babies.

I almost named these Presidential Pears, in honor of today’s holiday. (Jefferson was a big fan of wine, after all, and since that stuff about Washington and the cherry tree is probably apocryphal, anyway, why couldn’t it be a pear tree?) The truth is that these were more like Valentine Pears for us, but you definitely aren’t going to want to wait a whole year to try this delicious dessert.

The origin of this recipe lies, unfortunately, with the disappointment of my friend and co-worker Dominic, who accidentally ordered a nice bottle of what turned out to be dessert wine from Astor Wines, a lovely store with high standards and a tough return policy. Dessert wine, alas, is really not his thing, and after tiring of my helpful culinary suggestions about how he should use it, he decided to shut me up by just giving me the wine. Score! This recipe is super easy because the pears can roast while you’re eating your main course, and, served alongside a nice glass of the dessert wine itself, it’s seriously decadent. Go ahead and make up your very own holiday so you can celebrate by roasting these tonight; they’re worth it.

Roasted Wassail Pears Continue reading

Christmas Dinner, Puzzle-Style

GrinchDinnerThe holiday season is a time for feasting on rich delicacies, but just what form those delicacies take varies widely depending on where you’re sitting down to dinner. Below are some traditional Christmas foods; can you use your knowledge of international cuisine and linguistics to match them to the country whence they came? (Note: the meals described might be served on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, according to each culture’s traditions.) If you can guess all ten, consider yourself worthy to pull up a seat at the table anywhere in the world.

  1. Roast pork, potatoes, red cabbage, gravy, Risalamande (rice pudding with cherry or strawberry sauce), Gløgg, high-alcohol beer
  2. Turkey stuffed with ground beef and peanuts and decorated with fresh slices of pineapple and cherries, marzipan, raisins, almonds, hot chocolate
  3. Hamborgarhryggur (ham steak), reindeer, ptarmigan, hangikjöt (smoked lamb)
  4. Svineribbe (seasoned pork belly), sauerkraut, redcurrant sauce, flatbread, shots of akevitt
  5. Roast turkey with stuffing, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, parsnips and carrots, plum pudding, mince pies, trifle with brandy butter
  6. Tamales, roast pork leg, torrejas (French toast soaked in dark sugar syrup, cinnamon and cloves), rompopo (eggnog)
  7. 12 dishes to honor the 12 apostles, which can include: stuffed carp, fried carp, herring in wine sauce, herring in cream sauce, fruit compote, pierogi, peas and carrots, sauerkraut, makowiec (poppy seed cake)
  8. Cold meats with cranberry sauce, barbecued prawns or lobster, pavlova (fruit on top of a baked meringue)
  9. Cured leg of pork, queso de bola, pasta, fruit salad, tsokolate (hot cocoa)
  10. Fried carp, Sacher torte, Lebkuchen and sterne (Christmas cookies)
santaAnd the countries…

a. Poland
b. Philippines
c. United Kingdom
d. Honduras
e. Australia
f. Austria
g. Denmark
h. Iceland
i. Peru
j. Norway

Don’t click “continue’ until you’re ready to see the answers! Continue reading

I’ll See Your Rice and Raise You a Lentil: Shannon’s Easy Mujaddara


Did you know that dishes that combine a grain and a legume (like peanut butter sandwiches or, um, mujaddara) offer your body a complete set of proteins?

Whenever we go to Jason’s parents’ house for a holiday, I can rest assured that lurking somewhere in the refrigerator will be a container of mujaddara for us to “snack on.” The quotation marks are necessary, because the container is approximately the size of a bathtub. I chalk up the mammoth proportions to two factors: 1) Bob, Jason’s dad, is immensely fond of the Bosnian guy who owns a restaurant near his company’s offices, and 2) we are a clan that can polish off a vast quantity of the rice and lentil dish with alarming speed.

As delicious as the Richmond holiday version is, it’s not always within easy reach when a mujaddara craving hits, so I recently went hunting for a recipe. There are approximately a zillion floating around the internet (and yes, I’m about to add one more). Because I loathe soggy rice and was concerned about my own ability to time things correctly, I combined a couple versions that called for the rice and lentils to be prepared separately. Even though that probably makes it less traditional, the final product turned out quite well—aromatic and subtle and earthy, a warmly comforting end to a chilly fall day.

Shannon’s Easy Mujaddara

  • 1 cup lentils (any variety will work, but the baby ones are nice)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups water, vegetable stock, white wine, or a combination of these
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 small or 2 medium onions, sliced Continue reading

Holiday Sugar Rush Puzzle

Egad! The winter holidays have officially thrown down their gauntlet. Are you ready? As a little warm-up, try our Christmas dessert puzzle. Below are groups of ingredients, listed in rough order of largest to smallest quantity. Can you name the sugary treats that they combine to form? If you can get all ten, treat yourself to a little nip of schnapps in that hot cocoa.

  1. cookiesFlour, butter, powdered sugar, finely chopped nuts, vanilla
  2. Chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, chopped walnuts, butter
  3. Flour, eggs, sugar, margarine, baking powder, anise extract
  4. Flour, Hershey’s Kisses, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, sugar, eggs, baking soda, baking powder
  5. Powdered sugar, peanut butter, white potatoes, vanilla
  6. White chocolate, candy canes, mini-marshmallows
  7. Graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, butter
  8. Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt
  9. Flour, sugar, butter, fruit preserves, egg, vanilla, salt
  10. Powdered sugar, almond meal, butter, egg whites, egg yolks, sugar, milk, vanilla

Don’t click “continue” until you’re ready to see the answers. Continue reading

Holiday Season Preview

holiday cookin'Yes, it’s been a wild and wooly few weeks here at PitchKnives, with a whirl of hurricanes, marathons and work foibles. But fear not; plenty of holiday treats are on their way.

What’s on the menu? The real story of cornbread, a Grub Match revival, holiday cookies aplenty, Shannon’s Christmas vodka infusions, and maybe even a festive holiday fast. So pour yourself a nice glass of nog and keep checking the blog. The season of epic eating is upon us!