Welcome to my Food Blog!

Welcome! My name is Anne, aka ThePharmGirl. In 2010, I successfully made 100 recipes as a New Year's Resolution to expand my culinary repertoire and cooking skills beyond the frozen microwave dinner. This blog is a continuation of my culinary journey and serves as my personal virtual recipe box. Sometimes I like to have fun-- Check out my Muppet Mania Menu, The 12 Days of Christmas, and my Musical-themed recipes.

My current mission(s) for 2017:
* Use the Spiralizer at least once per week for healthy veggie-rich meals
* Continue to spin from the Wheel of Meals for recipe inspiration

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sixth Day of Christmas

 Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the sixth day of Christmas, for myself, I cooked...

~ Six Geese a Laying ~


 Anne presents...

Gooseberry-Raspberry Tartlets
and
Laying an Egg on Brussels Sprouts Hash




Yay!  Breakfast!  I stole the brussels sprouts hash idea from another website.  I saw that the grocery store actually had a goose in the meat department, but it was huge, and I knew I wouldn't be able to eat all that meat.  So I decided to go with the "laying" of eggs.  It looked like a healthy and hearty brunch.  I actually made it on two different occasions.  The first time I made it, I didn't dice the sprouts and potatoes small enough, and the picture looked strange.  So I re-made it the other day, threw in some extra seasoning, and I had a much better-looking and better-tasting hash.  I also wanted to do something with gooseberries since I wasn't cooking a goose, and I somehow concocted this recipe in my head to get this little delectable bite.  It was sooo good! It would have looked nicer if I had used phyllo tart shells, but making my own cups from phyllo sheets in a muffin tin worked too.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 6 Geese a Laying (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $150

Did You Know...??  By flying in a V formation, geese increase their flying range by at least 71% due to the uplift from the bird directly in front of them.  When the head goose gets tired, it rotates to the back.  Geese in the back honk to tell those in the front to keep up their speed (Haha, kind of like humans.  I hate getting behind a slow driver!)

"Your goose is cooked"- The first time this phrase appeared in writing was a song published in England in 1851.  The song refers to the author's feelings about the Pope's appointment of Cardinal Wiseman as Archbishop of Westminster:
If they come here we'll cook their goose,
The Pope and Cardinal Wiseman.


How did the phase "your goose is cooked" come to mean you're in deep trouble?
Nobody knows for sure.  Here are a couple conjectures:
1) Inhabitants of a besieged town in the sixteenth century hung out a goose to show their attackers they were not starving. This act so enraged the attackers that they set fire to the town and thus cooked the goose.
2) It comes from the fable about the goose that laid the golden eggs, which, when the farmer killed it to obtain the gold inside, left him with nothing but a goose to cook.

******
Recipes:

Brussels Sprouts Hash with Egg
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:
(Note: These measurements are approximate... I just threw things in the skillet)
5-6 small red potatoes, diced

1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
1/2 pound brussels sprouts, de-stemmed and quartered (or cut smaller)
1/2 cup chicken stock
seasoned salt
thyme
parsley
ground black pepper
salt
2 large eggs

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes, garlic, and onions and cook until the potatoes have started to brown.  Add the brussels sprouts, chicken stock, and seasonings.  Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are tender.  Add more seasoning to taste if necessary.  Cook two eggs as desired and serve on top of the hash.

******
Gooseberry-Raspberry Tartlet

Ingredients:
(Sorry, I have no exact measurements.  I haphazardly threw this recipe together and it happened to work.  Amazing!)

Phyllo tart shells
raspberries
gooseberries
lemon juice
water
sugar
milk
cornstarch
whipping cream
powdered sugar


Directions:
Wash gooseberries and raspberries.  Cook gently in a covered saucepan with a teaspoon or so of granulated sugar and a little lemon juice and a little water until berries are soft.  Drain.

In a small bowl, blend a little milk and cornstarch.  In a small pot, boil some milk, whipping cream, and powdered sugar. Slowly stir the hot milk mixture into the cornstarch mixture.  Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring until thick.  Cool, stirring often.

Bake phyllo shells as directed on package and let cool.  Fill with cream mixture and top with berry mixture.

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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fifth Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the fifth day of Christmas, for my family, I cooked...

~ Five Gold Rings ~


 Anne presents...

Rosemary-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of 5 Gold Rings (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $650.00
Cost of 5 Pineapple Rings = $0.77
Did You Know...??  Regarding the original intention of the song, five gold rings did NOT represent jewelry.  Instead, it represented the gold-colored rings around a Pheasant's neck.  So the beginning 7 items in the song were ALL birds.    
At the time the song was written, eating pheasant was only for the rich or royal, so a gift of 5 pheasants would have been very special.
*****
I had a lot of options for 5 Gold Rings. Should I go with the original intention and cook pheasant? Nah. Golden onion rings? Nah. I wanted to bring a dessert to my extended family's Christmas celebration, so I decided to make Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with 5 rings of pineapple.  I actually made two in 9x9 pans, one with rosemary and one without.  My relatives ended up picking off all the rosemary, or "spiky needles" as they called it.  I guess I should have crushed them first.  The recipe was just okay.  I should have made a better recipe from scratch but I was short on time so I took the easy way out by using yellow cake mix.

*****
Recipe

Rosemary-Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs (or as called for by cake mix)
1/3 cup oil (or as called for by mix)
1&1/3 cups water (or as called for by mix)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4-1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 can sliced pineapple
maraschino cherries (optional) 
fresh rosemary sprigs (optional) 

Directions:
Follow instructions on cake box and prepare batter; set aside.  Pour melted butter in pan specified on cake box.  Generously sprinkle brown sugar over the butter.  Sprinkle rosemary.  Top with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries if desired.  Pour cake batter over the pineapple mixture.  Place in oven and bake as directed on box.   As soon as it's out of the oven, turn upside-down onto a serving plate and remove pan.  Garnish with rosemary sprigs if desired.
*****
Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fourth Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the fourth day of Christmas, for myself, I cooked...

~ Four Calling Birds ~


 Anne presents...

Quartet of Turkey Rings Spilling the Beans
and Dishing the Dirt (Cake)


Hah! I'm so clever.  :D  This is an Anne original idea.  4 Calling Birds.  I thought to myself, "What would happen if 4 birds made a telephone call?"   Well, you'd hear four rings, with those gossipy birds spilling the beans and dishing the dirt.  hahaha.  I crack myself up.  

I just cut the centers out of turkey breast to make "rings", and then I made 4 different colorful bean combinations to spill out of each ring:  Green Beans; White Beans with Spinach, Garlic, and Tomatoes; Yellow Beans with Roasted Red Peppers and Parmesan; and a Black Bean Mango Salsa.  I enjoyed each component of the bean medley.  It was both healthy and tasty, and I was pleased with the presentation.  I just wish I had sliced the turkey a little thinner because it was way too much food for me to eat.  I had to leave half the plate untouched.

And then I made cute little individual dirt cake pudding cups, complete with a gummy worm.  I ate one and took the rest to work for my coworkers to enjoy.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Price of 4 Calling Birds (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $599.96

Did You Know??   The original intent of the song was not 4 CALLING birds, but 4 COLLY birds, which means 4 black birds.   I thought about doing a recipe based on Sing a Song of Sixpence, but I really didn't want to cook any blackbirds in a pie.  


Recipes:

Black Bean Mango Salsa

Ingredients:
Note: I just threw stuff in the bowl.  The measurements of these ingredients are approximate)

1 can black beans, drained
1 cup corn 
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced green onions
1/2 cup diced mango
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour.

****

White Beans with Spinach, Garlic, and Tomatoes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
2 cups cooked or canned white beans, well rinsed and drained if canned
1/3 cup vegetable stock
2-3 cups torn spinach leaves
ground black pepper


Directions:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes and saute, tossing often, until the tomatoes are soft, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the beans and stock and bring to a simmer.  Pile on the spinach, cover the pan, and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes.  Sauce should have thickened.  If not, cook a little longer.  If too dry, add more stock.  Season with black pepper.


****

 Yellow Beans with Roasted Red Peppers and Parmesan
 Ingredients:
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeds removed
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed  
2 quarts water
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
Place bell pepper half, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil pepper 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a ziplock plastic bag, and seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and cut into strips.

Bring 2 quarts water and 1-2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add beans; cook 4 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain; place in a large bowl. Add bell pepper strips, tomatoes, onions, and parsley; toss to combine.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon of salt, cider vinegar, and remaining ingredients except Parmesan, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over beans; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


****
Dirt Cake Cups
Yield: 13 servings;  200 calories/serving (without worm)


Ingredients:
1 package Oreo Reduced-Fat Cookies
8 oz Fat-Free Cool Whip
8 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened
1 Box Jello-O Fat Free Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding Mix
2 cups Skim Milk
Gummy Worms (optional)


Directions:
Make the pudding, following standard directions on the box.  Add the cool whip and cream cheese and mix well.   Crumble 39 oreos (3 per cup) in a large resealable plastic bag.  Evenly divide 1/2 the crumbled oreos into 13 small plastic cups.  Evenly divide the pudding mixture into the cups, then top with the remaining crumbled oreos.  Garnish with a gummy worm if desired.

*****
Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Third Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the third day of Christmas, for my best friend, I cooked...

~ Three French Hens ~


 Anne presents...

Bouillabaisse de Poulet,
Garlic French Bread, and
Mousse au Chocolat



Three French Hens was probably the easiest of all 12 days.  A French chicken recipe.  Bouillabaisse de Poulet is basically Chicken Stew, or to be fancy, "Chicken Poached in White Wine with Provencal Vegetables, Herbs, and Flavorings."  We served it over rice.  This recipe was actually from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" cookbook, so I was feeling very Julie/Julia when I made it.  I stayed very true to the recipe, except for the addition of carrots to make it a little heartier.  A Bouillabaisse is traditionally a stew made with fish and shellfish, but in this case, chicken was used instead.  The most distinguishing characteristic of a bouillabaisse is the unique flavoring derived from saffron, bay leaf, fennel seeds, and orange peel.

As for the other dishes... We accidentally forgot to take the garlic bread out of the oven, so it was a little crispier than we'd like.  Oops.  The mousse was most excellent.  It took a lot of preparation, but it was totally worth it.  The first bite, I could really taste the alcohol from the Bailey's Irish Cream, but after that, I didn't notice, and we both agreed that it seemed to get better and better with every bite.   Yummmy!  :)

Anne's Fun Facts:
Cost of 3 French Hens (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $150
Cost of Saffron Threads (0.06 oz) at Pick n Save Grocery Store = $18

All About Saffron...
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.  Saffron comes from the stigma of crocus flowers.  Each strand of saffron has to be hand-plucked from the individual flower heads which blossom every autumn.  The flowers bloom only over a 2-3 week span.  The workers sometimes spend 19-hour days harvesting the open flowers and extracting the stigmas before they wilt.  They are then dried over heat and sealed as threads in packages to export.  There are 3 stigmas per flower, and it takes 70,000 to 80,000 flowers, or about 225,000 stigmas, to produce 1 pound of dried saffron.  One cooking recipe generally requires 5-6 plants.  At one time, the price of saffron per ounce was greater than that of gold (but the value of gold has significantly increased).

Price of Gold per ounce: $1,391.19
Price of Silver per ounce: $29.37
Price of Saffron per ounce: ~$300.00

Saffron is most commonly used in recipes for Bouillabaisse, Paella, and Risotto and provides the yellowish hue.  In past centuries, it had medicinal use for headaches, spasms, stomach upset, bubonic plague, and smallpox.  Ancient Egyptians used it as an aphrodisiac, an antidote for poisoning, and as a tonic for dysentery and measles. Today, clinical trials have shown potential as an anticancer agent.



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Recipes

Bouillabaisse de Poulet
Yield: 4 servings (Anne says: It made WAY more than that!)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup onions; sliced
1/2 cup white of leek, sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced (Anne's addition--optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 &1/2 cups tomato pulp (~5 plum tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic
2 &1/2 pounds cut up chicken
salt to taste
1 &1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds; crushed
2 pinches saffron threads
2 inch piece dried orange peel
black pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or a dash of Tabasco sauce
salt to taste

Directions:
Cook the onions, carrots, and leeks slowly with the oil in a heavy 3-quart covered pot, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender, but not browned.

While vegetables cook, prepare the tomatoes. (I pulped my tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water for 10 seconds which let me peel the skin off very easily.  Then, I squeezed the tomatoes over the sink, letting the juice and seeds squirt out so that I was left with just the pulp.)  When the vegetables are tender, stir in the tomatoes and garlic. Cover and cook for 5 minutes so that the tomatoes will render their juices. Uncover, raise heat and let juice almost entirely evaporate.

Salt chicken lightly and arrange in casserole, spreading vegetables around and on top. Cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, turning once.

Pour the wine over the chicken and enough stock or broth barely to cover the meat. Add the herbs and seasonings and bring to a simmer. Salt lightly if necessary.  Cover casserole and simmer slowly for 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

To Serve:
Tip the casserole and skim off surface fat. Remove bay leaf and orange peel and carefully correct seasonings. Serve as is, from the casserole or arrange chicken and vegetables on a bed of steamed rice. Decorate with parsley sprig and pass the cooking liquid separately. 

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Garlic French Bread
8 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 loaf French bread, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


Directions:
In a small bowl, combine butter and garlic.  Brush over cut sides of bread; sprinkle with parsley.  Place, cut side up, on baking sheet.  Bake at 350º for 8 minutes.  Broil 4-6" from heat for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Cut into 2" slices.

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Mousse au Chocolat

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup super fine sugar
1 &1/4 cups cold heavy cream
1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream


Directions
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring. Remove from the heat and beat with a heavy wooden spoon until smooth. Return to the heat and 1 at a time, add the yolks, beating well after the addition of each. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.


In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until stiff.

In a third bowl, beat the cream until it becomes frothy. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the Baileys and continue beating until it holds soft peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the chocoalte mixture until no white speaks appear. Gradually fold in the whipped cream, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish.  Transfer to a large bowl (or individual bowls) and refrigerate until well chilled.  To serve, spoon the reserved whipped cream.

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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!


1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Monday, December 27, 2010

Second Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the second day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ Two Turtledoves ~


 Anne presents...

Bacon Cheese Turtleburgers
and
Dove Chocolate Turtles

 
Anne's Turtle

 Jeremy's Turtle

 
 Dove Chocolate Turtles



Once again, I took some creative liberties.  I'm not going to cook actual turtledoves.  And there's just too many days of poultry in this silly song.  So I decided to have fun with turtles instead.  I found the recipe for the bacon cheeseburger turtles online, and I thought they looked super cute, so I just had to give it a try.  Of course, this recipe could also be called "Heart Attack on a Plate."  I could just feel my arteries clogging as I ate that delicious heavenly bacon.   The recipe is just ground beef and a slice of cheese wrapped in bacon--LOTS of bacon!--with hot dogs sticking out for head and legs.  I only used about 5 slices of bacon for mine by making a smaller beef patty and cutting each strip of bacon in half and only draping the bacon weave over the top instead of entirely around the whole body.  I am supposed to be on a pre-wedding diet after all.   This recipe wasn't helpful.  Oh well.  It was a sacrifice I was willing to make in the name of my recipe blog.  hee hee.  ;)

I decided I should incorporate the "dove" part of turtledoves somehow, so I made those cute Dove Chocolate Turtles using Dove Caramel-Filled Chocolates.  They were incredibly easy to make... and so yummy.  I love caramel.

Anne's Fun Facts:

Cost of Two Turtledoves (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $100.00
Cost of Two Dove Turtles made by Anne = ~$0.35
Calories in Bacon Cheese Turtleburger = I don't want to know. Don't tell me.
Calories in 2 Dove Turtles made by Anne = 120 calories

Doves are believed to mate for life.  They symbolize marital devotion, faithfulness, and love forever.

*******************************

Recipes:

Bacon Cheese Turtleburgers 

Ingredients:
Very lean ground beef 
1 egg white
salt and pepper
Hot dogs or sausages
Packet of bacon or more
Cheddar cheese

Directions:
Form beef patties by combining the ground beef, egg white, salt, and pepper.  Set a slice of cheese on top of the patty.  Make a weave using 8-12 strips of bacon (depends on the size of your patty) and lay on top of the cheese, tucking ends underneath patty.  Cut wieners to make head and legs. Make 3 cuts in the "feet" sausages and one cross wise cut in the "head" sausage (so it will look like a mouth opening). Carve out a conical tail as well.  Make holes in the bacon weave, poke wieners about 1" into the patty. Secure with toothpicks that have been soaking in water.  Use a spatula to transfer turtles to a broiler pan.  Bake in the oven at 400º until beef is done (internal temp of 160º), about 35-45 minutes.


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Dove Chocolate Turtles
Makes 24 turtles


Ingredients
24 mini pretzels (the square ones work well)
24 Dove caramel-filled chocolates
24 pecan halves
pretzel sticks 

Arrange the square pretzels in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Place one chocolate-covered caramel candy on each pretzel.  Bake at 300º for 4 minutes.  While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each chocolate and use pretzel sticks to make head and legs.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.  


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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  
(I will be posting one per day from Dec 26 thru Jan 6th, 2010)Feel free to comment!

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming


 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

First Day of Christmas

Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes

 On the first day of Christmas, for my true love, I cooked...

~ A Partridge in a Pear Tree ~


 Anne presents...

Roasted Cornish Hens in a Caramelized Sage-Pear Sauce
and
Shakespeare's Saffron Warden Pear Pie



A little history to start....

The twelve days of Christmas span from Christmas day (Dec 25th) to the Epiphany (Jan 6).  The Twelfth Night is the night before the Epiphany, observed as a time of merrymaking.  The "Twelve Days of Christmas" was first published in the children's book "Mirth Without Mischief" in England in 1780 as a fun memory game played on the Twelfth Night, in which a leader recited a verse, each of the players repeated the verse, the leader added another verse, and so on until one of the players made a mistake, with the player who erred having to pay a penalty, such as offering up a kiss or a sweet.

It is considered an English carol, but the song is older than its printed version, and there are French versions that are said to be older.  It is possible that the origin is actually French, not English, especially since the red-legged partridge (from France) perches in trees more frequently than the grey partridge common in England at the time. 


Wisconsin History!

The song was imported to the United States in 1910 by Emily Brown, of the Downer Teacher's College in Milwaukee, WI, who had encountered the song in an English music store sometime before. She needed the song for the school Christmas pageant, an annual extravaganza that she was known for organizing

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Anne's Fun Facts:


Cost of Partridge in a Pear Tree (2010 Christmas Price Index) = $162
Cost of 2 Cornish Hens at Pick N Save Grocery Store = $6

A folklore claims a young maiden should walk backwards around a pear tree three times on Christmas morning.  When she gazes into the branches, she'll see the image of her future husband.

Anne's Dishes:

I knew I wasn't going to cook up a partridge or anything in the pigeon family, but I figured a small cornish hen in a pear sauce (instead of a tree) would do the trick.  I never cooked a cornish hen before, but it turned out to be the easiest part of the dish.  The pear sauce really took the majority of time and effort.  My presentation could have been prettier, but I have to say, that pear sauce tasted sublime!  I really loved it.

I really wanted to highlight the pear for the First Day of Christmas, so I took the old English history of the song and made a pear pie popular in Elizabethan England (even though Shakespeare was a couple centuries prior to the first written version).  In William Shakespeare's play A Winter’s Tale, Clown, son of the Old Shepherd who was the adoptive father of the play’s heroine Perdita, says: “I must have saffron to colour the warden pies.”   Warden is a type of pear. Saffron gives a golden-yellowish color. The saffron was likely used in the pastry of the pie, and I found a recipe that did just that.  Unfortunately, it was an actual English recipe which meant some of the measurements were in ounces which threw me off.  So I got out my electronic scale to measure.  Instead of making a large pie, I halved the recipe and baked it 20 minutes in two custard cups for two small pies.  That little pie was pretty darn good. 

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Recipes:

Roasted Cornish Hens in a Caramelized Sage-Pear Sauce
(recipe taken from internet contributor Sean Dunne)

Ingredients:
2 Cornish Hens
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pint heavy cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 package fresh sage (7-10 stalks)
3 Asian pears, cored and cut into pieces, tossed in juice of lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (for pears)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Bird Rub:
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons gorgonzola (optional)

Directions:
Rinse hens inside and out with cold water, then pat dry.  Make the Bird Rub.  Coat the birds with vegetable oil and season heavily inside and out with the Bird Rub.  Place the hens, breast side up in a 9x13" baking dish.  Cover and cook the birds at 325º for 1 hour, 15 minutes; then turn up the heat to 500º and cook for 15 more minutes, with the birds uncovered to brown the skins.    Internal temp of birds should be 165-170º.  Take birds out of oven and let rest, covered with foil, for about 7 minutes.

As soon as the birds go in the oven, start preparing the pear sauce.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot on medium high heat so that it simmers, but doesn't burn.  Add the sage (including stalks) to the butter and simmer for about 8 minutes or until all the color is gone from the sage.   Remove all the sage and stalks.

Add the pears, stirring to coat, and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Next, stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cover the pot and continue to cook for 50 minutes to soften the pears, stirring every 10 minutes.

Add heavy cream to the pear mixture, stirring constantly until cream starts to simmer.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors.  Add salt and white pepper to the mixture and stir.   Remove pear mixture from heat and transfer to a food processor.  Puree mixture on high speed until sauce is a smooth consistency. 

Plate the birds, and ladle the pear sauce over the top.   If desired, sprinkle some Gorgonzola cheese over the birds to melt into the sauce.

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William Shakespeare's Warden Pear Pie with Saffron
(recipe taken from Internet contributor Elaine Findlay)

Ingredients:
8 oz flour
5 oz butter
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
4 large pears (or 8 small Warden pears)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
pinch of ground cloves

Directions:
Gently crush the strands of saffron into a cup.  Pour the warm water over the saffron, stir, and leave to steep until the water is cool.  Sift the flour and sugar together into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Put the egg yolks into a small bowl and add the cooled saffron water and beat well.  Add the egg-saffron mixture to the flour and mix well until a nice dough is formed.  Cover and leave to settle in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Peel and core the pears, and thinly slice.  Put the pears in a sauce pan, covered with water' bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until softened.  Drain and allow to cool.

Roll the saffron pastry out and use about 2/3 of it to line a greased 9" pie dish.  When the pears have cooled, spread them around the pie base and sprinkle with the brown sugar and spices.  Roll out the remaining 1/3 saffron pastry and top the pie with it, sealing the edges with a bit of water.  Sprinkle a little sugar over the top if desired.  Cut a slit in the middle of the pie crust to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 375º for 45 minutes until pastry is nicely golden and cooked through.

Note: I made only half the recipe and then divided the ingredients between two custard cups. I baked them for 20 minutes which seemed to be perfect. 

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Anne's 12 Days of Christmas Recipes  

1st Day: Partridge in Pear Tree             7th Day: Seven Swans a-Swimming
2nd Day: Two Turtledoves                    8th Day: Eight Maids a-Milking
3rd Day: Three French Hens                 9th Day: Nine Ladies Dancing
4th Day: Four Calling Birds                  10th Day: Ten Lords a-Leaping
5th Day: Five Gold Rings                     11th Day: Eleven Pipers Piping
6th Day: Six Geese a-Laying                12th Day: Twelve Drummers Drumming