Product Review


Product Review:

Peanut Soy Finishing Sauce & Black Sesame Ginger Puree

From Williams Sonoma

My mom gave me this combo from Williams Sonoma a little while ago. The black sesame ginger puree is supposed to be used like a rub, to season the meat or seafood, and the peanut soy sauce is meant to be drizzled on top of the finished dish.

I’ve made this twice so far, both with shrimp topped over rice, and some crushed peanuts on top. I enjoy the puree – its sweet with a little kick from the red pepper mixed in. I even liked the ginger, which I’m not normally a fan of.


I wasn’t such a huge fan of the finishing sauce. It was a little salty to me thanks to the soy sauce. I also didn’t taste the peanut in the finishing sauce much, hence why I added the crushed peanut on top (which really did make the dish pretty good).

Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple

Bacon, dates and pineapple come together in a quick, sweet 3-ingredient appetizer that’s hard to stop at only one. 

Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple - Bacon, dates and pineapple come together in a quick, sweet 3-ingredient appetizer that's hard to stop at only one. 

A friend brought this appetizer over one night, and it has become one of my husband’s favorites (Thanks S!). I have never had dates, but this yummy bite tastes like candy – sweet and soft. And although it is best served hot, this little bite takes only a few minutes to assemble, making it easy for entertaining. We especially like to make these for game day – the guys just go crazy over them.

Note on preparation: Learn from my mistakes – Do NOT cook these on foil on a baking sheet, but on a boiler pan. I tried using foil once in the past – they didn’t get crispy and the foil ended up tearing, leaving a juicy mess in the oven – and yes, it burned and we got to listen to the smoke alarm 4 times before getting to savor these sweet treats.

 

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Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple

Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple

Bacon, dates and pineapple come together in a quick, sweet 3-ingredient appetizer that’s hard to stop at only one.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon cut in half
  • 1 can pitted dates in the dried fruit aisle
  • 1 large can pineapple chunks
  • toothpicks optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line bottom tray of a broiler pan with foil (to make clean up easier). Add top and set aside.
  2. Lay out pieces of bacon on a cutting board or clean counter. In the center of each slice, place one date and one piece of pineapple. Wrap, securing with a toothpick if needed. Place seam-side down on a broiler pan.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes, until bacon is crispy.
  4. Serve hot!
Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple on Books n' Cooks - Bacon, dates and pineapple come together in a quick, sweet 3-ingredient appetizer that's hard to stop at only one. 

White Wine & Cardamon Poached Pears

I’d been poking through several cookbooks, looking for an interesting recipe to try out for Thanksgiving (my family never did the traditional pumpkin or pecan pies). I stumbled across one recipe for Red Wine Pears in Williams Sonoma’s Cooking for Friends (p. 206).

So, I decided to give poached pears a try, but with a twist – white wine (my preference) and with cardamom, a relatively new spice for me. I learned about it a couple years ago, when we first made a Cranberry Pear Tart (now a Thanksgiving staple when I go home for the holiday) but otherwise haven’t come across it in many recipes. I’m on a bit of a crusade this season, to experiment with this new spice, beginning with Cardamom White Hot Cocoa, and now, White Wine & Cardamon Poached Pears, served with a White Chocolate Cardamom Sauce.

Thanks to S. for filling in when my camera died on Thanksgiving.

White Wine & Cardamon Poached Pears

Created by Me!

Ingredients:

  • 6 pears – ripe, pealed, halved and cored
  • 1 c. water
  • 3 c. Chardonnay or other dry white wine
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom

Combine water, wine, sugar, vanilla bean (split open with seeds scraped into the pot) and cardamom in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.

Add pears to water and wine mixture. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to low. Cover and allow pears to simmer until pears are soft and tender, about 25 minutes. Be sure to stir pears, flipping them, and occasionally basting pears with the sauce.

When pears are soft, move them to a bowl.

For the final time, bring the water and wine mixture to a boil, boiling until sauce has reduced to about a cup and a syrup has formed, approximately 10 minutes. Pour over pears and refrigerate at least 3 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.

Transfer pears (without the syrup) to a serving bowl. Serve cold or at room temperature.

White Chocolate Cardamom Sauce

Created by Me!

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. good-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 c. half and half
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until combined.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Pour over poached pears or the dessert of your choice.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

A friend made this recipe a couple years ago, my first ever pecan pie. Now that I’m in charge of Thanksgiving desserts, I figured we’d gift it a whirl for myself. The pie was good – it was all gone!

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Adapted from: Betty Crocker

Ingredients for the Crust:

* 1 c. all-purpose flour
* 1/4 tsp. table salt
* 1/3 c. plus 1 Tbs. shortening
* 2-3 Tbs. cold water

Ingredients for the Pecan Filling:

* 2/3 c. sugar
* 1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted (I used 1/4 c. unsalted butter, see note below)
* 1 c. corn syrup
* 2 Tbs. bourbon (optional)
* 1/2 tsp. table salt
* 3 eggs
* 1 c. pecan halves or broken pieces
* 1 c. (or 1 6 oz. bag) semisweet chocolate chips

Note: Betty Crocker says you can decrease the butter to 1/4 a cup and the pecans to only 1/2 a cup if you wanted to make this recipe a bit healthier. Nutrition information, compliments of Betty Crocker, is based on full portions of both ingredients.

Make the Crust:

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Combine flour and salt. Then, using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until combined. The mixture will be slightly lumpy.

Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, “tossing” with a fork after each addition. The dough should be moist and will leave the sides of the bowl. If necessary, add an extra teaspoon of water.

Lightly flour the countertop. Pull dough into a ball and flatten on the prepared counter. The directions said to….. Roll the dough into a circle that is 2 inches larger than the upside-down pie plate (about 9 inches around) and then transfer to pie plate. Press dough against the bottom and sides. Leave a 1-inch overhang around the pie plate, and trim the rest off. Fold or roll the 1-inch overhang so that the dough is even with the plate….

But I had trouble rolling the dough, so instead flattened it as much as possible with my hand, and then manually fitted dough to the pie plate. It wasn’t the prettiest pie crust, but it was still nice and flaky, and was actually my favorite part!

Set the pie crust aside (nope, don’t bake yet!)

Make the Filling:

In another bowl, beat the butter, sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, salt and eggs until combined.

With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Cover edge of pie with a 2-3 inch strop of foil to prevent burning. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until pie is set. Remove the foil after about 30 minutes of baking.

Let the pie cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until chilled, before serving.

Sausage, Barley & Spinach Soup

It’s been cold and rainy and I’ve been craving soup. I love the Sausage soup at Bertucci’s, and had hoped to find something like it.

This recipe is heavily adapted from Everyday Food magazine. I used twice the amount of sausage than the original recipe, both because I like a hearty soup and because that’s what the package came in. To balance it out next time, I would add a couple more cups of chicken broth as well as another 1/2 c. of barley.  If you have a little bit of hot Italian sausage on hand, this soup would probably be very good with that as well

Sausage, Barley & Spinach Soup

Heavily adapted from: Everyday Food Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 16 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. dried barley
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach (add as much as you’d like!)
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • other spices to taste (I added 1 tsp. of fennel seeds)

Directions:

In a heavy stockpot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add sausage and brown.

Add onions and celery, cooking for a few minutes until soft.

Add barley, water, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper, and any other spices to taste.

Reduce to a simmer and partially cover pot (I left the lid open just a crack). Allow to simmer for about 45 minutes or until barley is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Spinach will wilt quickly.

Enjoy with a warm piece of bread on a cold and rainy day.