Gateau Monet aux Poires

July 19, 2012 in Desserts

Pear Almond Cake as seen in the December 2014 issue of AY Magazine!



  • 3/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 11 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 just ripe pears, d’Anjou or Red (Bartlett work well)


Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Wash the pears carefully but do not peel. Butter a 9 ½ inch spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Grind the almonds with the flour & baking powder in a food processor until almonds are finely ground.


Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until white and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time, sprinkling in a spoonful of the flour mixture about halfway through to stop the eggs from curdling. Fold in the flour mixture gently but thoroughly. Batter will be thick. Spread batter evenly over the base of the prepared tin. If using a mixer, do not over beat.

Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear to make a flat base – this is so that your pears don’t fall over during baking. Arrange the pears in a circle around the cake, with the stem end up. Leave a border of about ¾ inch between the pear and the tin. Bake until pears are tender, the sides of the cake have pulled away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. About 1 hour.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen before un-molding. Then ease the cake off the tin base onto a serving dish.

Serves 10

Adapted from: Pear Almond Cake, Books for Cooks, London, United Kingdom

Cook’s Notes

Try to get the pears a day or two in advance and leave them on a window sill so that they have a chance to ripen a bit. You do not, however, want them to be very ripe as the juiciness will make it difficult for the cake to finish in the center. If you have very juicy pears, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour.

Serving Tips

To serve, slice into 10 servings, each with ½ a pear. Gently scoop out the core and replace with a dollop of whipped cream. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle with chocolate sauce if desired.

Here is a quick recipe for chocolate sauce from Books for Cooks.

Heat 5T heavy cream in a small sauce pan until just below simmering. Remove at once from the heat. Add 2 ½ oz of dark or bittersweet chocolate broken or chopped into small pieces. Leave to melt for a minute, then stir until smooth and glossy.

Special Equipment

It is important to use a 9 ½ inch spring-form pan for this cake. If you use another size you will have to adjust the baking time. If you don’t use a spring-form pan you will not be able to display it and serving neat slices will be difficult.

You will also need baking parchment so that you will be able to move the cake onto a serving plate. This is usually available at Wild Oats or Kroger.

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Best Pizza Dough

July 19, 2012 in Entrees

  • ¾ cup unbleached bread flour
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (100F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt 

In a bowl, combine the yeast, ¼ cup of the lukewarm water, and ¼ cup of the flour. Let it stand at room temperature (75 degrees or warmer) until it bubbles up, a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. (This is the sponge).

Put the sponge and the remaining ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water, the remaining 1 ¾ cups flour, the olive oil, and the salt into the bowl of a high power stand mixer (like a Kitchenaid) with a dough hook. Knead with the dough hook for 4-5 minutes until you have a nice clean ball that sticks to the dough hook. Turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead by hand until smooth, elastic, and a bit tacky to the touch – another 3-4 minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to cover lightly with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75 F) until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Then punch it down, form into a ball, and form the pizzas. You can cut into thirds or quarters for smaller pizzas. You can press the dough with your hands, and then pick it up and stretch and twirl it until it’s as thin as you want it. This recipe is enough for 2 medium pizzas or 4 personal size pizzas.

Sprinkle your toppings on and bake at 475 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, until the crust is crisp. You can use a pizza stone or a pizza pan sprinkled with a little cornmeal.  This dough can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or frozen.

Adapted from More Cooking in the Wine Country by Joanne Weir

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Lemon Pound Cake

May 26, 2012 in Desserts

Here is a great lemony lemon pound cake.   It is quite easy and utterly delicious! It is not a “low” anything dessert, alas….The medium loaf will yield about 10-12 slices and it will go very quickly.


  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup chopped pecans – optional

For the lemon syrup:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 F.
Generously grease a medium sized loaf pan. (Approx. 4 ½ by 8 ½ by 2 ½ ) Line bottom and ends with parchment paper. See Notes below.
Grate or snip lemon zest. See Notes below.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.


Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture along with the milk and lemon zest. Beat until blended and smooth. Stir in the pecans, if desired.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf come out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Make the lemon syrup. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Set aside, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if the sugar is not completely dissolved.

Remove the bread from the oven and set the baking pan on a wire rack. Using a fork or wooden skewer gently poke the top in several places. Stir the syrup, then slowly drizzle it over the hot bread. Let the bread cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes. Then turn loaf out and cool completely, top side up.

Notes: As an alternative to grating lemon zest, we sometimes use a vegetable peeler to carefully peel two or three long strips of zest and then use a sharp kitchen shears to snip the peel into tiny pieces. This method works fine for this recipe. Just be sure not to get any of the white pith.

Although we use a non-stick pan and have buttered generously we have found that pouring the lemon syrup over the top causes the cake to stick and come out with difficulty. We suggest that you line the bottom and sides with parchment paper so that the cake will remove without breaking. Print this recipe!

Adapted from

Tropical Fruit Smoothies

September 25, 2011 in Beverages

Almost any fruit that you like will work! 

  • ¼ cup fresh or frozen mango¼ cup fresh pineapple
  • ½ cup over-ripe banana, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 4 ice cubes

Put all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Put the blender top on, hold down and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.  Taste.  If you prefer a thinner smoothie, add a little more orange juice and blend again.  Serve immediately.  Serves 2-3

Notes:  You can use raspberries, blueberries, peaches, melon or pineapple alone or in combination, according to your preference.

Skills:  working carefully with kitchen equipment, combining flavors
  blender or food processor

Sticky Fruit Sticks

August 9, 2011 in Desserts, Snacks

1 Individual Serving

These are quick and easy. They can be eaten warm or cold. They can be eaten immediately or put into your lunch box.

  • 2 or 3 Apple chunks, peeled
  • 2 or 3 Pineapple chunks, canned is fine
  • 2 or 3 Banana chunks, firm, not too ripe
  • 2 or 3 Seedless Grapes, red or green
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • ½ tablespoon Butter
  • Wooden skewers, the skinny kind with a pointy end, one for each person or serving.

Turn on the broiler. (Ask an adult to help if you need it.) Thread the
fruit chunks onto the skewers. Make one stick for each person. If you
don’t fill the whole stick, break off the ends so that they don’t burn in
the broiler.

Melt the honey and butter together in a small bowl in the microwave.
It only takes about 20 seconds. Lay the fruit sticks on a piece of foil
and brush them all over with the honey and butter. If you don’t have
a brush, just use a teaspoon to pour it over.

Put the foil onto the broiler pan and heat under the broiler until bubbly
and very light brown, about 4-5 minutes. Turn the sticks over about
halfway through. Be sure to wear oven mitts!

These are good hot or cold. If you eat them immediately, slide the
fruit off the stick into a bowl because they will be HOT. If you want to
take one for your lunch, you can leave the fruit on the stick, let it cool
off, then wrap in a piece of foil and put in your lunch box. Eat the
same day you make it…the fruit will get too soft if you keep it

You can use strawberries too, if they are not too ripe. Print This Recipe!