Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Off The Shelf: Autumn Gatherings

IMG_7288Our book on review this week is Autumn Gatherings: Casual Food to Enjoy with Family and Friends by Rick Rodgers. Just out last fall, this book is filled with 160 pages of seasonal recipes ranging from appetizers and beverages to desserts.

To give you a taste of what's inside, let me list a few of the recipes that caught my eye: Roasted Butternut Squash Salsa, Ham, Yam and Kale Soup, Roasted Chicken Breast with Root Vegetables, Oktoberfest Sausages and Red Cabbage, Fettuccine with Roasted Butternut Squash and Chard, Cranberry Rum-Raisin Sauce, Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Persimmon Cookies.

I decided to try the Pear-Cranberry Crisp from the dessert section. The result was beyond my expectations with the sweet-tart of the carmelized cranberries melting into the perfumey pears and all covered with the buttery brown sugar and oats topping. Yes, this is a must for making this fall.

PEAR-CRANBERRY CRISP
(Autumn Gatherings)

1 12-ounce bag fresh (or frozen) cranberries
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar, divided
4 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or 1/2 tsp. each ground ginger and ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, cut in small cubes

Topping:
1 c. oats
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. butter, cut up

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter an 11 1/2 x 8-inch baking dish.

Combine the cranberries and 1 cup of the brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the cranberries burst, about 5 minutes (if using fresh berries). Pour into the prepared dish. Let stand to cool until tepid, about 15 minutes.

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Mix together the pears, the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the flour, lemon juice, and spice. Pour over the cranberries and dot with the butter.

To make the topping: mix together the oats, brown sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and rub everything together with your fingers until combined. Press the mixture together into a cohesive mass. Crumble in a relatively even layer over the pears. Place on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any bubbling juices).

Bake until the juices are bubbling and the topping is crisp, 50-60 minutes. Cool until warm, and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Serves 6-8.

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