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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Baked potatoes and poached pears--not together

We're alway told how important girlfriends are, and no one has to convince me. I value my girlfriends, and this week I've sort of had a mini-celebration of them, entertaining one night a woman who lost her husband three years ago and, on Valentine's Day, a brand new widow. I loved cooking for them and loved devising new dishes.
Last night, I fixed baked potatoes topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, spinach, a fried egg, and feta (it doesn't look as pretty as it really was).

Baked potatoes with vegetables

2 baking potatoes
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1-1/2 c. fresh spinach, stemmed, washed and torn into medium size pieces
2 eggs
Feta cheese, crumbled

Bake potatoes--I prick them all over with a fork and rub olive them with olive oil to get nice, crispy skins. About 45 minutes before potatoes are done and you're ready to serve, put cherry tomatoes on a cookie sheet and roast in same oven. I put foil, thinking it would be easier; it wasn't, and I had to pick pieces of foil out of the tomatoes; next time I'll spray the pan. Roast until tomatoes collapse on themselves, checking frequently. About ten minutes before removing from oven, put spinach on top of the tomatoes.
Meanwhlle fry eggs sunny side up (a talent I don't have--my guest did a beautiful job). I recommend leaving them slightly runny so they mix with the potato.
Split potatoes and spread open; top with the fried egg and then cherry tomatoes and spinach (in the picture above, we did it the opposite order and while it tastes the same, I think it would look prettier with the tomatoes on top). Finally toss with crumbled feta.
Serves two; a hearty, filling dish. We didn't eat the salad I had fixed.

On Valentine's Night, my guests brought a wonderful chunky pea soup, and I provided an appetizer--hummus--and salad, which could double for dessert.

Here's what you need for two (easily doubled):

1 Bosque pear
Red wine sauce
Bibb lettuce
sliced blue cheese--whatever kind you like best (I usually use Maytag but used Amish for this)

Slice the pear but do not peel (not necessary with Bosque as it is with other kinds of pears)
Simmer pears in red wine sauce (below) or in plain red wine with seasonings 10-15 minutes, turning often so slices soak up the good sauce (and don't splash on the shirt you're wearing as I did.)  Do ahead and let pears cool in the cooking liquid.
Line salad plates with Bibb lettuce. Top with sliced pears--I used four slices per plate.
Top with three or four slices of blue cheese--admittedly it's hard to slice neatly and you may end up crumbling it.
Top with six or seven raspberries apiece.
This makes a beautiful dish, and I'm sorry I didn't get a picture.
For the recipe I played with, see Mystery Lovers Kitchen (, my favorite food blog, for February 13, 2013. There's a lovely picture of it with the recipe. This recipe came from Avery Aames, author of a cheesmaker's mystery series; her brand new titles is To Brie or Not to Brie. Check it out--her books are as good as her recipes.

Red wine sauce for two:
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Bring to boil, add pear slices, and simmer.

If your guest doesn't eaten sugar, like one of mine, I think you could do this without the sugar, water and lemon joice.

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