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spring favorites

Caramelized Pear Torta

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Suz and I have been making this torta for a couple of years for party’s and caterings. We love this recipe because it is so very tasty and it makes for a beautiful presentation. People always ohh and ahh over this torta. Trust us when we say that this is always a party pleaser.

Get these ingredients together-
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 -8 pears, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 tablespoons pear preserves
32 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups grated Gruyère or swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups pistachio nuts, chopped and salted

This is what you are going to do-
Break out a large non-stick sauté pan and add your butter. Melt over medium-high heat. Slowly sprinkle sugar in while stirring. Next, add your pears to the pan and stir around real good, making sure that the pears are coated in the buttery sweet goodness. Reduce your heat to medium and cook for about 10-15 minutes. You want your liquid to thicken and pears to begin to caramelize. Next reduce your heat to low and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the pear preserves and continue to cook until preserves melt.
Transfer pears to a bowl and let them cool down. While your pears are cooling, get you a medium mixing bowl out and add the cream cheese and grated cheese. Use your handy dandy hand mixer for easy mixing. Season with a dash or two of salt. Liberally spray an 8-inch round springform pan with cooking spray. Now it’s time to layer. You know the sisters love them some layers of goodness. Spread half of the cheese mixture on the bottom of the pan. Then spoon half of the cooled pear mixture over the cheese and spread evenly. Add the remaining cheese mixture over the pears. Save the remaining pears for the top, you will add those later on. Pop your torta in the fridge and let it chill for an hour or so. Carefully remove the sides of the springform pan leaving the torta on the bottom of the pan. Cover the sides of the torta using 1 cup of the chopped pistachios. Spread the rest of the pear mixture on top of the torta and then sprinkle the remaining pistachios around the edges of the pears. Pop it back in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Serve with crackers or French baguettes slices.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Cranberries and Almonds

Amy: My sister in law, Virginia told me about a recipe for a salad with goat cheese that she had tried and loved. It sounded so delicious and I knew from how she described it that I was going to like this salad. I couldn’t wait to tell Sister about it and get in the kitchen and make our own. As far as salads go, we would have to rate this as the Mercedes Benz of salads. This salad has everything in it to please all of your taste buds. You get the bitter taste from the salad greens, the sweet from the cranberries, the sour from the vinegar, salt from the almond slivers, and our favorite the umami (savory) from the goat cheese. It just doesn’t get any better than this. All of these ingredients come together and get an E for excellence in the works well together section.

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What you will need-

1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch Salt
Fresh ground pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces goat cheese, cut into 4 rounds
10 ounces mixed salad greens
¼ cup toasted almond slivers, lightly salted
¼ cup cranberries

Make it-
We use to give our mother such a hard time because she always saved jars and containers from the food she bought. When we left home and started cooking we started doing the same thing. They come in handy for all sorts of things. Like for this recipe, you will need a jar with a lid. So get it out and combine the first 6 ingredients for the dressing and shake until ingredients are mixed. Set aside. Get that oven going and heat it to 425 degrees. Put your bread crumbs, basil, salt and pepper in a recycled pie pan and toss. You can always use a shallow bowl but you see what we mean. You can really use those things. Place the bread crumbs in the center of the pie pan. Get you a pastry brush and brush the cheese rounds lightly with olive oil on both sides. If you don’t have a pastry brush you can use paper towels or your fingers. Next put the cheese rounds in the bread crumbs and coat with the bread crumbs. Place the cheese rounds on a greased baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. While the cheese rounds are in the oven toss the greens with the nuts and cranberries. Then you are going to lightly toss with the dressing. Don’t overload the greens with the dressing; you want to be able to enjoy all of the flavors. Pack the greens in a pint size container. See, again we get to use a leftover food container. Mother always knows best! Invert the container on the plate and gently lift the container off. Ta da, that looks like a pro made that salad. Gently place a cheese round on top of the salad greens. Don’t be dumb, go on and get you some. You want to serve it while the cheese is warm and the greens are crisp.

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