One of the great pleasures of maintaining this blog is that I get to connect with some very amazing people, mostly other fathers who cook for their families. One of my goals for the site is to encourage men to enter the kitchen and feel comfortable making dinner. I find the stories of these other fathers very inspiring, and I hope that you do, too.
My latest guest post is from a reader named Pat. He's the father of a two-year-old and a medical student who lives with his wife in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he helped me with one of my culinary shortcomings: dessert. I've never thought to make it (except for once). Pat, on the other hand, has mastered a very tasty treat, a roasted pear with ice cream and caramel sauce. From the sounds of how he came up with it, we could all learn a thing or two from him. Here is his story.
People often ask me how I got into cooking. Though I played sports all growing up, I never really got into watching them. In junior high school, I started watching a lot of food network. While my buddies were watching football, I was learning about chipotles from Bobby Flay and steak from Alton Brown. I was definitely the odd man out.
About the same time, my parents instituted a new rule: each kid had to do the dishes two nights a week. I hated doing the dishes. I talked my mom into a swapping me dish duty for cooking duty. In spite of my dad’s protests, I made whatever struck my fancy. My mom always encouraged my cooking. The first real, from scratch meal was a Bobby Flay dish—grilled flank steak with home made barbeque sauce, blue cheese and a mushroom relish. It didn’t look like Bobby’s, but it was the start of a beautiful relationship.
Some years later, while navigating the first few years of my marriage, I started cooking more. My wife didn’t believe in seasonings (gasp), and instead of tackling that issue head on, I grabbed the pan. Thankfully she has come around, and we enjoy culinary capers together on nightly basis. We have a two year old son, and he’s awesome. He helps me cook whenever I’m in the kitchen. From pasta dough to chocolate persimmon muffins, he’s my sous chef extraordinaire.
I’m in the middle of my second year of medical school, and as such I’m pretty busy. Thankfully my wife and son are fine with cooking (and eating of course) being one of the main things we do together. Enough about me.
John asked me to write about the evolution of a dessert I did for a dinner recently. The dinner was part of a dinner club a classmate and I dreamed up. We do dinner about once a month and alternate who hosts. She is way more creative than I am, and makes amazing food. She makes dark chocolate dipped sea salt caramels that are incredible; and those caramels are the start of the dessert. The first caramel I had made me want to dabble in the dark arts of candy making.
After four failed batches of caramels, I decided to get serious. I looked at a bunch of recipes, all with different techniques and combinations of ingredients. I finally came up with a method that worked for me, and made my own version of dipped caramels for Christmas gifts. About the same time, I decided I wanted to try a rosemary caramel. I did a few variations of the rosemary caramel and it was a success.
I started thinking about how I could incorporate the rosemary caramel into a dessert for the dinner club. I settled on a roasted pear with mascarpone ice cream and caramel sauce. It was incredible.
Roasted Pear with Ice Cream and Rosemary Caramel Sauce
For the Rosemary Caramel sauce (enough for eight generous servings, plus left overs)
- 1 cube stick (8T) butter
- 1.5 cups cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 2 cups sugar
Combine cream, half of the cube of the butter (chopped into pieces), the vanilla, rosemary and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring periodically, just until it is beginning to boil. Remove from heat before allowing mixture to boil, cover with lid and allow to steep for 30+min (the longer you steep it, the more intense the rosemary flavor). Strain the mixture and set aside.
Combine sugar, corn syrup in your biggest stock pot, equipped with your candy thermometer. Put on some oven mitts and a long sleeve shirt. Bring the sugar mixture up to 302°F. Add warm cream mixture and stir vigorously. Bring mixture back up to about 220°F, remove from heat immediately and add remaining ½ cube of butter, stir until incorporated. Let cool slightly, and serve.
For the Pears
- 4 slightly under-ripe D’anjou pears
- 4 T butter
Peel pears, slice in half, and remove seeds/core (I used a paring knife and melon baller). Place in a baking dish and spread butter on pears. Sprinkle with sugar and a dash of nutmeg. Bake pears at 375F for about 20 minutes. Turn pears over and cook for another 20min (or until desired doneness is achieved).
I topped the pears with a scoop of mascarpone ice cream and the sauce. The mascarpone recipe isn’t mine to give, but a good quality vanilla would do nicely in its place. If you’re worried about it tasting like a pine tree, don’t. The rosemary is subtle, but awesome.