Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

No April Fool’s here! Just good food! My cousin posted the most delicious looking salad on Instagram last week and I was beyond jealous. Most of my family lives in Ireland, so with the time difference they are posting delicious looking lunches and dinners right when I wake up. Since checking Instagram is (shamefully) the first thing I do every morning, I get to start drooling over planning delicious meals right away. Luckily my cousin also mentioned the name of the restaurant in her picture and I was easily able to stalk the menu and find out more about this delicious meal. I read the description and was almost instantly in love.

Prosciutto, Pear & Parmesan Salad
Prosciutto ham, fresh rocket, toasted pine nuts,
sliced juicy pear and grated aged parmesan
with a strawberry and balsamic dressing.

I had everything on hand and set about making this bad boy right away. I took a few liberties of my own (NO pine nuts here! Yuck!) and had to imagine what the dressing might be like, but the end result was beyond anything I could have imagined. I think this the perfect type of salad for this time of year. There is a great combination of sweet winter and spring fruits, which are amazing with the salty prosciutto and the toasted almonds add a perfect crunch. And the very best part! It took less than ten minutes to put together!

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

Apart from switching disgusting pine nuts for almonds, I had to guess what kind of dressing was used. Personally, I am not a fan of oily or sweet vinaigrettes, so when I came across this recipe from Whole Foods, I thought it would be perfect! I added some chia seeds to the dressing for some extra nutritional value. This dressing is best made with strawberries that have been sliced for a bit (so they can get kind of sweet and syrupy in their natural juice) or strawberries that are over ripe (like the day before you might have to toss them).  Strawberries like that will be the juiciest and sweetest, which will cut the need for added sweeteners or oil.


Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing


For the Salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 1 ripe, but firm pear, sliced (I used a Bartlett)
  • 4 large handfuls arugula/rocket
  • 3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
  • a block of aged parmesan, for grating
  • freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
For the Strawberry Balsamic Dressing:
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chia (or poppy) seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Wash your arugula and place in large bowl. Add dressing and toss until well mixed (I used about 1/3 cup). Add almonds and grate parmesan to taste. Toss again.
  3. Place arugula on large serving platter, top with prosciutto and pear slices. Add salt, pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Pear & Cranberry Dutch Baby Pancake

Pear & Cranberry Dutch Baby Pancake

So, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow here in the States. The last thing over everyone’s minds is probably breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it shouldn’t be overlooked just because the main event is later in the day. I’ve the hard way over cooking several Thanksgiving dinners to know that a hungry chef is a cranky chef. Take a quick break this morning and make a delicious breakfast to get you through the day. I have to admit, my cooking time was over 30 minutes (more like 35 than 25), so not the world’s quickest breakfast. I’m going to write that off the increased baking time to the gluten-free flour, which is temperamental at best.

This was the first time I ever had or made a Dutch baby pancake and I have to say that it lived up to the hype. I would highly recommend this for special breakfast or a delicious brunch.

Pear & Cranberry Dutch Baby Pancake

Pear & Cranberry Dutch Baby Pancake
Adapted from Williams-Somona.

  • 3 Bartlett or D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used Better Batter.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Maple syrup for serving
  1. In a bowl, stir together the pears, cranberries, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon. In a 9-inch French skillet over medium heat, melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter. Add the apple mixture and sauté until the pears are tender and the cranberries have broken down, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Put an 11-inch French skillet or ovenproof sauté pan in a cold oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Meanwhile, put the eggs in a blender and blend on medium speed until very frothy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, salt, the 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar and the milk and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides as needed.
  4. When the oven is preheated, put the remaining 3 Tablespoons butter in the hot skillet and return it to the oven until the butter melts; do not let it brown. Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet, then distribute the pear-cranberry mixture evenly on top. Bake until the Dutch baby is lightly browned and the sides have risen, about 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the oven, dust the Dutch baby with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately with maple syrup. Serves 4 to 6.


Baby Cheesecakes with Toffee Pears

Baby Cheesecakes with Toffee Pears

Earlier today I was discussing baked goods with my friend Zack (we don’t like them). This whole conversation came out of a discussion of birthday cakes (it’s my birthday today, we were just randomly discussing cakes). I like savory things much better. Personally I would be much happier if someone gave me a wheel of brie or blue cheese, stuck a candle in it and called it a day. There is one exception to my dessert rule and that would be cheesecake. I do like cheesecake.

This isn’t your typical cheesecake. There is blue cheese involved, which is initially why I wanted to make this. Combining my favorite cheese and my favorite dessert just seemed like a brilliant idea. I was slightly hesitant about the fact that there is no sugar added into the cheesecake. One of them fell apart when I was removing them from the muffin tin and I stole a bite and it was not a good idea. Luckily when I served them with the pears, it was a very enjoyable (and unusual) combination. I had enough crust for 14 cheesecakes, but only enough filling for 13. I would recommend only doing 12 as some of my came out a little thin on the cheesecake end of things. Luckily I like my cheesecake on the crustier side of things, so I wasn’t too bothered by that.

Baby Cheesecakes with Toffee Pears

Baby Cheese Cakes with Toffee Pears
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup dairy sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 4 pears, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted broken walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line eight 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with foil or paper bake cups; set aside.
  2. For crust, in bowl stir together oats, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons butter until combined. Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons oat mixture into each prepared muffin cup. With bottom of a narrow glass press down lightly. Bake 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly on wire racks. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
  3. For cheesecake filling, in medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined. Stir in blue cheese and sour cream.
  4. Spoon well-rounded tablespoons of the cheese mixture into each crust-lined muffin cup. Bake 20 minutes or until slightly puffed and set. Cool 30 minutes. Remove from cups. Place on tray, cover and refrigerate at least 2 or up to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
  5. For Toffee Pears, in large skillet melt the 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the 1/2 cup brown sugar and cream. Cook and stir until bubbly. Add pears. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.
  6. To serve, remove foil or paper liners from cheesecakes. Spoon about 1 tablespoon brown sugar-cream mixture into each of the dessert dishes. Top with a cheesecake. Spoon pears around cheesecake. Sprinkle each with toasted walnuts.

Pan-fried Balsamic Pear Salad with Pancetta, Gorgonzola and a Warm Honey Dressing

Pan-fried balsamic pear salad with pancetta, gorgonzola and a warm honey dressing

If I had to eat one thing every day for the rest of my life, it just might be this salad. Regardless of what ends up on your fork, every bite is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy. It has quickly become my ‘go to’ salad recipe when I have unexpected guests or want to have a nicer lunch. It’s definitely a ‘fancy’ salad so it makes for an impressive meal. The only downside of this salad is that it does require a bit of preparation and a lot of pans and bowls, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Pan-fried balsamic pear salad with pancetta, gorgonzola and a warm honey dressing

Pan-fried Balsamic Pear Salad with Pancetta, Gorgonzola and a Warm Honey Dressing (from BBC Food)

  • 2 x 120g/4oz packets mixed baby greens
  • small handful of walnuts
  • 8 slices pancetta or lean bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 pears, peeled, cored, quartered
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey, plus extra for the dressing
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, plus 2 Tablespoons for the dressing
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 150g/5oz gorgonzola, ripped into chunks
  1. Distribute the rocket evenly among four serving plates.
  2. Heat a frying pan and toast the walnuts for three minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove the nuts from the frying pan.
  3. Heat the pancetta in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Place a knob of butter and the oil into a clean frying pan set over a low heat. Once the butter melts, add the pears, salt, freshly ground black pepper and honey. Turn up the heat and cook for a further five minutes.
  5. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute, then take the pan off the heat. Remove the pears from the pan, reserving any juice that may be left.
  6. Arrange the pears and pancetta on top of the greens so each person has four quarters each.
  7. Now put the pan containing the pear juices back on the heat and add the remaining knob of butter, a dash of honey, the mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper and the walnuts. Cook the mixture until warmed through.
  8. Pour the dressing over the pears and the greens. Scatter over the gorgonzola and serve.

Flourless Chocolate & Pear Cake

Flourless chocolate & pear cake

This cake is so easy to make. I was surprised it turned out so light. It really has a great texture, which is different than most other flourless cakes I’ve made. The cake is chocolatey without being overwhelmingly so. My pears sank a bit, but that did really matter to me. If you are more of a perfectionist when it comes to your desserts, make sure to whip the egg whites well to prevent sinking. I let mine sit a bit and had to re-whip them.

If you need a quick, last minute dessert for a Christmas or Hanukkah dinner, you probably have most of these ingredients on hand already. The cake would be just as good with or without the pears, so don’t worry about them if you don’t have them.You could definitely substitute almonds for the hazelnuts or apples or even canned pears for the fresh pears depending on what you have on hand. I would definitely use this recipe again with and without the pears for a simple and fast flourless cake. I only added powdered/confectioners sugar and freshly whipped cream for serving and it was perfect.

Flourless Chocolate & Pear Cake (from

  • 85g butter/roughly 1/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp extra for tin
  • 85g golden caster sugar/roughly 2/3 cup, plus extra for tin
  • 85g gluten-free dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 85g hazelnuts, toasted and ground in a food processor
  • 4 very ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
  • icing sugar , for dusting
  1. Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit the base of a 25cm loose-bottomed tin. Melt 1 tbsp butter and brush the inside of the tin, then line the base with the parchment and brush again with more butter. Spoon in 2 tbsp caster sugar, swirl it around to coat the base and sides, then tip out any excess.
  2. Heat oven to 350F/180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water, remove from the heat, stir in the brandy and leave to cool. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick; fold into the chocolate with the hazelnuts.
  3. In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the whites until they reach a soft peak (try not to whisk them too stiffly or you’ll have trouble folding them in). Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions. Spoon into the prepared tin. Level, then arrange the pears over the mixture, cut-side down. Bake for 40 mins until the pears are soft and the cake is cooked all the way through. Leave to cool in the tin slightly before releasing it, then place on a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve with crème fraîche.

Brie with Apples and a Balsamic Reduction

You definitely don’t need to add any extra stress or work on Thanksgiving. This appetizer is perfect for Thanksgiving. It’s super simple and super tasty. The sweetness of the cooked apples (or pears) goes so well with the creamy brie and the balsamic reduction just makes everything in life better. It’s definitely an appetizer with something for everyone.

Brie with Apples and Balsamic Reduction (adapted very slightly from Living Tastefully)

  • 1 eight-ounce wheel Brie or Camembert cheese, cold
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple or Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 8 walnut halves
  1. Slice cheese wheel in half crosswise; set aside.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the diced pear, and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the brandy, and cook 1 minute more.  Add rosemary, and stir to combine.  Remove from heat, and spread over bottom half of reserved sliced cheese wheel, reserving 2 tablespoons of the mixture for garnish.  Transfer cheese to serving plate.
  2. Return skillet to stove, and heat the balsamic vinegar and honey until simmering.  Simmer mixture until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Pour half the glaze over cheese and reserved pear mixture; top with remaining half of cheese wheel and pears.  Drizzle with remaining glaze, and garnish with walnut halves and rosemary.  Serve immediately.

Apple and Pear Crumble with Cheese

This is a recipe I stumbled across recently, but I’m already a big fan.

Initially, I was looking for a way to use up some pears and apples I had that were about to go off, which seems to be a pretty common thing for me lately. I was also intrigued by the cheese aspect of the topping. I love crumbles of any kind, mainly because of the oatmeal topping, but I would never have thought of adding cheese. The cheese didn’t really add any flavor to the crumble, but did provide a nice creaminess to the whole crumble, that you wouldn’t normally find.

When it comes to crumbles, I hate when the ratio of fruit to topping is off. The fruit is good, but so is the topping. You need to have a balance. With most crumbles I feel like you need to double the topping to get a good balance going, but this recipe brought the perfect ratio.

The recipe is from a British site and uses a British cheese, which is great if you are living in the UK. If you are living in California however, Wensleydale, is a bit more difficult to find in these parts. If only we had Waitrose! I struck out at both Trader Joe’s and a local fancy pants grocery store, so I headed to Whole Foods and had a very in depth conversation with the cheesemonger about the merits of wensleydale (ps. how do I become a cheesemonger?). The cheesemonger was quite apologetic about the lack of selection when it came to wensleydale, but in the end I totally lucked out. They only had one wensleydale in stock, but it was one with cranberries in it! I was pretty excited about adding both cheese and cranberries to the crumble. Like I said, the cheese provided a really nice creaminess to the whole crumble and the cranberries gave it a nice tart bite, which complemented the whole dessert perfectly.

Apple and Pear Crumble with Cheese (adapted from Good Food Channel)

For the topping

  • 50 g/scant 1/2 cup plain flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Mix)
  • 25 g/1/4 cup rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF Rolled Oats)
  • 85 g/1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 50 g/1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 50 g/1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 50 g/2 ounces wensleydale cheese, crumbled

For the filling

  • 50 g/1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 large pears, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 25g/2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/gas 5.
  2. To make the topping, put the flour, oats, sugar and hazelnuts into a large bowl.
  3. Rub in the butter until the mixture has an even crumbly texture. Stir in the cheese.
  4. To make the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the apples and pears.
  5. Stir in the sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden brown and tender.
  6. Spoon the fruit into a pie dish.
  7. Sprinkle over the crumble topping and bake for 25 minutes until the topping is golden brown. Serve with custard, cream, or ice cream.

Slow-Cooker Pear and Apple Butter

So, I might have overdone it at Costco with the pear and apple purchases. Luckily, I found a recipe to help me use them all up.

Now I’m not going to lie, I probably won’t be making this again. It pretty much takes a whole day to make and I only ended up with 3 half-pint mason jars of butter. I also nearly destroyed my crockpot. I think the second round of 4 hours in the slow cooker is a bit much. A good quarter of this ended up burnt to the pot and it was next to impossible to get off. I swear it still smells like pears and apples. Don’t get me wrong, this is very delicious, but I think I’ll be finding an other way to use up my excess pears and apples in the future.

Slow-Cooker Pear and Apple Butter (from Martha Stewart)

  • 2 1/2 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears (about 5)
  • 2 1/2 pounds McIntosh or Gala apples (about 5)
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Peel, quarter, and core pears and apples. In a food processor, finely grate fruit (in batches if necessary), then transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in dark-brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on high, 4 hours.
  2. Remove cinnamon stick and reserve. Transfer mixture to processor (in batches if necessary) and process until smooth. Return to slow cooker, along with cinnamon stick, and cook on high, uncovered, until mixture is thick and browned, 4 hours. Discard cinnamon stick and let mixture cool. Transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate, up to 3 weeks, or freeze, up to 3 months.

Thirsty Thursday: Pear Haymaker

This is a very enjoyable autumn cocktail. It’s light and fruity, but still satisfying on a cool fall evening. Even though there is a lot of ginger in there, it’s not very overwhelming. I used ginger beer (Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew to be specific) and it came out pretty perfect even though the commenters on the original recipe seemed to have an issue with ginger beer.

Pear Haymaker (from Savuer) Makes 2 Cocktails

For the ginger syrup:

  • ¼ cup sliced, peeled ginger
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pear, chopped, peeled, and cored
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer, to top
  1. Make the ginger syrup: Combine sliced ginger, sugar, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain out ginger solids and discard, reserving syrup in an airtight container.
  2. Divide chopped pear between two 12 oz. tall glasses; muddle in each glass with a wooden muddler. Pour 2 oz. vodka over the pears in each glass, and fill with ice. Add ½ oz. ginger syrup and ½ oz. lemon juice to each glass, stir to combine, and finish with ginger ale to top.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Pear & Blueberry Crisp

I’m not too big on desserts, but crisps would be one of my favorites. They are so easy to make, but seem like the could be kinda complicated if you don’t know  any better. If you stick them in ramekins, they make perfect individual desserts for guests or you have perfectly portioned desserts for a few days.

I threw all this together in about 5 minutes and it took about 20 minutes to bake. We had three pears that were about to go off, so I peeled them, cut off the gross bits and was able to fill 4 standard size ramekins. This could easily be made gluten full or gluten-free. I used Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cook Oats and Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, but regular quick cook oats and all-purpose flour would be just fine.

You can also serve these with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but we didn’t have either in the house. They were still delicious without.

Pear & Blueberry Crisp

  • 3 ripe pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen and defrosted
  • 2 Tablespoons quick cook oats
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flower
  • 4 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Butter
  1. Heat oven to 350. Grease ramekins with butter or baking spray. Place pears and blueberries in ramekins.
  2. In a small bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter and mix until crumbs start to form.
  3. Sprinkle crumbs over ramekins. Place on small baking tray (just in case they bubble over) and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy!