Diced! – Diana – Pear “Pies” Appetizer with Roasted Peppers Cheesy Filling and Almonds

Today we have an entrant for the first course of the Diced! competition. This round includes ingredients that are vegan friendly. Contestants were encouraged to add any additional ingredients they wished (even non-vegan ones). Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for an appetizer, soup or salad containing the following ingredients: Roasted Red Peppers, Puff Pastry, Sliced Almonds and Pears (their choice of variety). They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.

Due to the generosity of the following companies, we have some really awesome products as a prize to the winner of this Diced! competition. The winner will receive:

  • Zak – The winner receives their choice of a four piece setting or set of three serving bowls from their new Moso line. This is made from biodegradable bamboo and comes in a choice of four stylish colors. Look for a review of this product in the near future. Check them out here.
  • Chobani – The leading brand in Greek Yogurt, the winner will receive a case of their choice of flavor of Greek yogurt. I’ve been using quite a bit of Chobani in my cooking lately and love it. Look for those recipes soon. Check out the selection at: http://chobani.com/products
  • Microplane – Microplane will provide the winner with four items: Microplane Elite Series Fine Grater, Home Series Coarse Grater, Bartender’s Garnishing Tool, Cut-Resistant Glove. I recently reviewed these products here. Check out their products at their facebook page: www.facebook.com/microplane
  • Youcopia – Maker of organization products, they would like to offer the winner a choice of a product from their web site. I recently reviewed the Bake Stack.

Today’s contestant, Diana is no stranger to the Rantings of an Amateur Chef as she was one of the early guest bloggers. Diana has penned five guest blogs from a beautiful butternut mac and cheese to Limoncello Cupcakes. Check out Diana’s blog at Food N Thought Peddler and her entry below…

I’m excited to enter this particular round of Diced! concentrating on mostly vegan ingredients. I’m gluten intolerant and rarely eat dairy (sans the occasional organic butter I use for baked goods) so my life is very much about making substitutions or sometimes “going without”. My blog is aimed towards creating healthier recipes, and to me healthy means all natural beneficial ingredients, healthy fats/oils, protein, fresh produce and gluten free grains rather than low fat/sugar/calories foods. And of course life is still sweet even without gluten, you will find many baked indulgences on my blog too. So welcome to The Peddler’s Shop!
Life is quite often about making choices, but once in a while certain things are simply impossible to have. Walking along just about any street in Manhattan you get bombarded with all kinds of window displays that look too “appetizing” not to come in and “sample”. The idea that I already have enough clothes, shoes and make-up to sustain a small theater company for at least a season is helpful, sometimes… But the realization that other things should get a financial priority at this time is what actually makes or breaks the deal. If you simply can’t have it, the pressure of making that decision, sometimes through intense deliberations with yourself, is lifted off so you can concentrate on other sides of the shopping experience.
Like window shopping.
That could be an adventure in itself. You may decide to forgo some of your familiar preferences and choose outfits that you would not normally wear, you may also forget that you don’t actually look like a model and imagine yourself putting on something more daring or “unforgiving” on a regular person’s body. They say that when you lose one of the senses, other ones become more heightened. If you stand by the window display and can’t bring one of those textile beauties home or even touch them (in a fear you will fall in love with one and will not be able to part), you can still imagine how soft the fabric must feel against your body and how well the color may complement your skin tone, and then as you leave the display, you notice that your shoulders are straight, your gait is lighter and you imagine yourself walking away wearing the outfit and creating quite a stir even among jaded New York crowd.
Leading a lifestyle free of gluten is very much like window shopping, you just know that certain things you simply can’t have no matter what. That reconciles the “negotiation factor” and makes it possible to skip the bread basket at your next restaurant outing yet still enjoy that pre-dinner experience or to pass by incredible sweet confections without feeling like you just want to die from sugar deprivation. All your senses are turned on, and like a sponge you are soaking in every culinary experience where your imagination is overriding the sense of taste, making it still possible to know exactly what it is you are eating.
This round of Diced! was all about “window shopping” meal for me as it required the use of the frozen puffed pastry dough. Normally I’d experiment with one of my gluten-free recipes, but this was not the time to be frivolous, I had to follow the rules. 🙂 I read that Pillsbury is now making a few gluten-free frozen dough options, not sure if they are on a market yet, but I haven’t seen any in stores yet. Also despite the fact that all required ingredients are vegan friendly, we were allowed to add anything extra as we wish, including some animal products. And since I don’t eat dairy, I’d go for some homemade cashew “cheese” in the recipe below, but I realize it can be too obscure or time consuming for most people, therefore, I’m using soft goat cheese instead. So please join me on this “window shopping trip”!

Pear “Pies” Appetizer with Roasted Peppers Cheesy Filling and Almonds

3 ripe (but not too soft) pears, I used Bartlett
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 roasted red pepper (I roasted my own)
2-3 cups of white wine
3 oz of lightly salted goat cheese (or use soft cow cheese like Brie)
1 Tbspoon of almond meal/flour
1/2 tspoon of nutmeg
1 tspoon of lemon juice
2-3 Tbspoons of sliced almonds for garnish
Almond milk for brushing
Balsamic vinegar reduction (optional)
Cut the pears in half lengthwise and core. Scoop the middle of each pear half, sprinkle the scooped up pieces  with lemon juice and set them aside. Heat up white wine and lightly blanch the pears for about a minute, that also helps with removing the skin.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, place each pear half core side down. Cut one sheet of dough in six equal parts (you will have just enough) and cover each with dough, shape it around the pear and cut the remaining parts off, you can use them to make stems and leaves if you wish. Make small cuts with a sharp knife on each dough surface. Brush with almond milk.
Bake for 15-20 minutes on until the tops are golden brown.  Remove and let them cool off before filling.
In a mean while make the cheese spread. In a food processor combine until smooth goat cheese, pieces of roasted pepper, scooped up pieces from three pears, almond flour and nutmeg.
Fill each “pie” with about a Tbspoon of the cheese spread, garnish with some crushed sliced almonds and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
The appetizer could be served slightly warm or room temperature. My teenager told me it was really good, but what does he know, he is 16!
So hope you make it and let me know how it all turned out.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: appetizer, Baking 2, Cheese2, Diced!, Fruit 2, Guest, kosher, Recipes, Sidedish2, vegan, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

5 Comments on “Diced! – Diana – Pear “Pies” Appetizer with Roasted Peppers Cheesy Filling and Almonds”

  1. August 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Is the dough cover the inside of the pear, or just outside?

    Karen Kuzsel

    Contributing Editor, Prevue Magazine

    MPI – Greater Orlando Area chapter

    ISES Orlando

    407-351-7875; f, 407-909-9567

    @KarenKuzsel (Twitter & Google+)

    Skype: Karen.Kuzsel




  2. August 11, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    A nice change from my usual apps!


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