Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Rugelach

It's a day for giving thanks for our many blessings. 
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with friends and family around the table.

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" -- Erma Bombeck
Pears are absolutely delicious right now, so I decided my Thanksgiving post would be a recipe you could use anytime for the coming holidays. Perfect with a glass of wine, these are some of my favorite flavors: pears, blue cheese and walnuts.

Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Rugelach
From Baking Moment

For the Pear Filling
4 bartlett pears 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
3 tablespoons light brown sugar 
pinch of kosher salt 

For the Dough: 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
6 ounces cream cheese, softened 
4 ounces blue cheese, slightly softened 
2 tablespoons honey 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
¼ teaspoon kosher salt 

egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, milk, or water) 
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped 

To Make the Filling: 
Peel and core the pears. Shred with a box grater or food processor. Heat a small skillet on medium high heat with the butter. Add the pears, brown sugar, and salt and cook until slightly softened. Drain off any excess liquid and refrigerate until chilled. 

To Make the Dough: 
Cream the butter, cheeses, and honey in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. 
Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and refrigerate for one hour. Roll each ball to a thickness of 1/8 inch, and top with an even layer of pear filling. Cut into quarters, and then cut each quarter into thirds. Starting at the widest end of each triangle, roll gently towards the point and then shape into a crescent. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Brush the rugelach with egg wash and top with chopped walnuts. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Can be served warm or at room temperature. 


Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux

If you're not having a huge group at the Thanksgiving table, this recipe might fit the bill. Game hens in place of turkey have always been my answer when cooking for two or three. (Unless you love those turkey leftovers!) Here you have the individual servings everyone loves and  even a little stuffing, made with apples, cider and some cheese. The side dish of corn maque choux is divine...please try it even if you don't serve it with the game hens.

Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux
By Bruce Aidells for Bon Appétit, October 2008


3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups diced peeled cored Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes purchased cornbread or corn muffins (about 11 ounces)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
6 tablespoons (about) fresh apple cider or fresh apple juice

Game hens:
4 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens, rinsed, patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

Corn Maque Choux recipe below.

For stuffing
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; sauté until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add apples; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; transfer to large bowl. Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornbread into vegetables. Add egg and toss to blend. Mix in cheese, then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.

Game hens: 
Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. Pack 1 cup stuffing into each (place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks or turkey lacers. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. Mix sage, coarse salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle over hens.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 2 hens in skillet. Sauté until brown, turning often with wooden spoons (to prevent tearing skin), about 10 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Repeat with remaining hens. Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. Using kitchen string, tie bacon strips in place. (Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)

Place hens (and extra stuffing) in oven. Roast hens until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. (Roast stuffing 30 minutes.) Cut strings off hens. Transfer hens to plates. Spoon maque choux around hens and serve with extra stuffing.

Corn Maque Choux

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 medium ears of corn)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Coarse kosher salt

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Mix in green onion, parsley, and basil. Season to taste with coarse salt, pepper, and more hot pepper sauce, if desired.


Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta Verrine

Here's yet another fall pumpkin dessert. It's a pumpkin verrine and I do love these layers of flavor and they make such a pretty presentation. Again, the best part is you can make it the day before! I wouldn't put the crumble on until just before serving, but you can make that ahead too and just keep in a covered container. Don't want to make the pie part? Just go to your favorite market and buy one. (Costco makes a great one.) You could also use your leftover Thanksgiving pumpkin pie to make these verrines. I loved the tart smoothness of the panna cotta with the pie and the crunch of the crumble topping. Lovely combo for the holidays!

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta Verrine
Adapted from Jasmine Cuisine


For the panna cotta:
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 sheets of gelatin, previously rehydrated in cold water (I used 3/4 packet granules in a tablespoon cold water)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

For the pumpkin filling:
15 ounces  unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon dark rum
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 pinch of pepper

For the spiced crumble:
scant 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of almond flour
50g cold butter into small cubes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 pinch of pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the panna cotta:

Boil sugar, cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, add the gelatine and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.  After the pause, stir in yogurt with a whisk, mixing well. 
Pour the cream into 6-8 pretty glasses up to a third of their height . Refrigerate and let set for at least 6 hours. 

Preheat oven to 325F. 

For the pumpkin:
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, cream and rum whisk . Add brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves, salt and pepper and mix well. 
Divide the filling between 6-8 ramekins. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until filling is set. 
Cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate at least 2 hours. 

For the spicy crumble:

Preheat oven to 400F. Place some parchment on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, almonds, brown sugar, spices and butter and mix with a fork until coarse crumbs (texture of coarse sand). Add the chopped pecans. 

Spread the filling on the prepared baking sheet, not evenly, because you want clumps of different sizes. 

Bake 20 minutes (this was way too long...mine was well done in under 10 minutes) until the crumble is crisp and dark. Cool completely. Break up in uneven pieces.

To serve:
Remove the pumpkin filling ramekins with a spoon and place on the panna cotta packing well, taking care to leave a quarter empty glasses. Fill the glasses with the remaining crumble spices. 

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. 


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