A few days before each new year rolls around, I always get the urge to do a retrospective review of the year, but when I finally sit down to the task, I always find that I'd much rather just leave the past year to the past and look forward to what's coming next. This 'onward' sentiment was particularly strong this time around with regards to the passing of 2011. For me, this past year has felt a lot like the middle section in any trilogy--not as much excitement or change as the previous year and just a lot of set-up waiting for more action in the next year. After 2010, which saw crazy changes and drama, 2011 in comparison was much less exciting: just a lot of chugging along and trying to figure out what "normal" life should be.
...not that I've managed to hit upon "normality" yet! (and not sure I ever want to!) But, I am very much looking forward to leaving 2011 and all of its stalled uncertainty and unanswered questions and stagnancy behind and having much, much more excitement and progress in 2012.
Don't get me wrong though--2011 wasn't uninteresting and dull! In fact, I got to meet a lot of wonderful new people and see plenty of new places, so I guess I really shouldn't be complaining. :) (2011 recap at the end of this post.)
To round out the year and kick off the new one, I turned to this simple but wonderful recipe that I've had bookmarked since this time last year: salt-roasted pears. I'd heard of salt-baked fish or even salt-crusted potatoes before, so when my good friend told me about baking pears in salt, I was immediately intrigued. I don't entirely understand the science of salt-baking, but these pears turn out amazingly: soft and juicy and supple in the centers with an ever-so-slight salty tinge on the skins to balance out the sweetness inside.
[click on photo below for a larger image]
Then, instead of the recommended caramel sauce to accompany the pears, I turned to a slightly more adventurous option: cajeta, which is a dulce de leche-type sauce made with goat's milk. The thick cajeta enrobes these pears beautifully when it's poured on warmed, and the sweet, just barely cinnamon-y caramel is perfect against the lingering flakes of salt on the pears. I love it when desserts are super simple, uncomplicated, a wee bit out of the ordinary, but oh-so-good. ...Hopefully what 2012 will turn out to be as well!
Here's wishing you all a fantastic new year!
P.S. Starting off the 2012 excitement, I'll be headed to Portland, Oregon for a few days in January and would very much appreciate any recommendations you might have! Favorite Portland sights? Restaurants I *must* try? Please leave me a comment below!
In 2011, I...
experienced life in snow climates for the first time on a trip to the East Coast, with old and new friends.
made a "heart attack in a pie" ... at least twice.
became obsessed with glitter.
was recognized by Saveur.
went to Edinburgh, Scotland and Manchester, England and, on the same trip,...
stopped by BlogHer Food in Atlanta for some quick food-bloggery fun.
had to bid farewell to friends moving away and welcome home friends moving back.
redecorated several parts of my house.
picked olallieberries and blackberries and strawberries.
ate a meal of a lifetime.
got hooked on Doctor Who.
instagrammed 300+ photos.
spent Thanksgiving in L.A. with my best friend, cooking up a storm.
spent an inordinate amount of time playing Monopoly Deal (and losing).
per tradition, had Korean fried chicken to celebrate Hanukkah.
Read on for recipes....
from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop
makes about 1 1/4 cup cajeta
4 cups (1 L) goat milk
1 cup (200 gr) sugar
1/4 tspn baking soda
2 Tbspn light corn syrup
large pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick
1. In a dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the goat's milk, sugar, baking soda, corn syrup, and salt. Break up the cinnamon stick in a few large pieces and add them to the milk.
2. Bring the milk to a boil over high heat. When the mixture begins to foam, start stirring. Reduce heat to medium high, keeping the milk at a low rolling boil while stirring. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the milk thickens and turns a beige color.
3. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir the milk, scraping the bottom of the pot, cooking until it turns a deep orange caramel brown, about 15 more minutes.
4. Remove the pot from heat and let cool.
Salt Roasted Pears
adapted from Martha Stewart
5-6 forelle pears, firm but ripe
1 lb coarse sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pour a thin layer of salt to cover the bottom of a deep dish. Nestle the forelle pears vertically into the salt, and cover the pears with more salt until only a bit of the tops show through.
3. Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the pears, until the pears are fork-tender. Remove from oven and let cool briefly. Lift the pears out and brush off the excess salt.
4. Warm the cajeta briefly and pour over the pears.