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Soup + Cake

September 27, 2013

I love Fall cooking.  When the weather cools off and I can turn on the oven again and look forward to warming up the house and the smells of good things baking…  And the Fall flavors of apples and pears and pumpkin, cinnamon and ginger…  Can’t be beat!

This week, I made two really tasty recipes, one for dinner and one for dessert.  Like most folks, I think I’m always on the hunt for recipes that don’t use a lot of specialty ingredients or things that I don’t already have on hand.  I also like to try to find things to break up the routine now and then so we don’t end up going through the same rotation of dishes over and over again!  So when I was making my shopping list for the week and thinking of what to have for dinner, and what I already had in the freezer to work with, I decided to use up some leftover cooked chicken that has been taking up space in the freezer for a bit.

Chicken SoupThis creamy chicken stew was a really good find!  Now, my photo doesn’t look quite as good as the one on the original blog but I took my tub of leftovers out of the fridge to take the picture, so it’s a little thicker from being chilled.  I also changed the recipe a bit by leaving out the potatoes and subbing in one-third of a cup of pearl barley instead.  The barley adds a little fiber and makes the stew/soup a little thicker as well.  My chicken is also chopped rather than shredded, so that gives it a little bit of a different look, too.  At any rate, this was really, really good!  Great flavor, great creamy texture, served with some crusty bread it made a great Fall dinner.  I’ll certainly make this again when I have leftover cooked chicken around.

Pear CakeAfter we finished off last week’s pear-cream cheese tart, I was looking for something else to make and the Fall bug got to me again.  I found this recipe for a pear cake with streusel and decided to give it a try.  This also turned out really nicely!  The secret to this one is the browned butter.  You’re melting the butter in a small pan and letting it cook until it starts to brown.  There will be a lot of bubbling and foaming along the way, but if you keep the pan on medium heat and keep stirring as you go, all that will eventually go away and you’ll see the color of the butter changing.  You have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn – pull the pan off the heat when the butter gets to a caramel color, and even pour it out into a separate container to cool.  The browned butter adds a nice, nutty flavor and also colors the cake when it bakes – most of the color in this cake actually came from the butter!  I think the only thing I’d change here is the streusel on top.  I’d probably make a somewhat less sugary mix and add some rolled oats for a more typical streusel topping (at least the way I think of it) if/when I make this again.  Certainly it will work as well with apples as it does with pears, so go with your preference!  We’ve been eating it plain, but some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream wouldn’t go amiss.

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