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Entries in pecans (2)

Tuesday
Mar082011

Vanilla-scented Pear, Mint, Brie and Pecan Crostini

Just LOOK at these glorious little morsels. Almost too pretty to eat. (almost!!)

My sister got married at our dad's house this past Sunday and honestly, the wedding couldn't have been any more perfect. I was busy helping my parent's host and so I asked my friend Stephanie to do the photos, however, near the end, I couldn't resist grabbing my camera. I got some fantastic shots of my sister Cindy and her new husband Matt but I can't post them just yet because I'd like her to see them first. Instead, I'm posting this shot I got of one of the beautiful board of crostini. (Crostini means 'toasted bread' in Italian - we didn't toast our bread but we still use the word Crostini)

Sean, along with the help from our super-fantastic friend Meaghanne prepared all of the food for the wedding. The idea for these little beauties is borrowed from our friends Nora and Peter Hiscott who own Divine Dishes - a Halifax, Nova Scotia based catering company. Their food is so amazing!! Sean used their idea and put a little spin on it*:

Here's what you'll need to make these perfect little bites - they won't last long so make lots!!

Vanilla-scented Pear, Mint, Brie and Pecan Crostini

2 Bosc Pears, 0.5 Cup Sugar, 0.25 C Water, 1 Vanilla Bean (scraped + pod)

~ Peel and cut pears into thin slices - bring sugar and water to light boil - add vanilla beans and pods - add pears - simmer until pears are translucently soft - reserve liquid

~Slice a fresh baguette - you can toast or not, it's up to you - drizzle sliced bread with reserved vanilla-pear juice - top bread with a mint leaf, a couple of pieces of pear, a small piece of Brie and a pecan* - drizzle more pear juice on top if you like

*These crostini are one of Divine Dishes signature items - they drizzle with honey instead of vanilla-pear juice and they use walnuts on top instead of pecans

**You could toast the pecans which would bring out another layer of flavour that would be spectacular - just throw them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or, until you can smell the nutty toastiness in your kitchen

Simple, fresh - perfect for spring!!

Saturday
Jun192010

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Friends of ours flew to Mexico in late April, a small group of family in tow, to get hitched. Soon after their return, looking tanned and fabulous, they came to our house for dinner one evening. As they walked into our kitchen, the new 'Mrs.' handed me a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I was touched that they would even think to bring me home a gift while away on such a momentous journey. I untied the string and unwrapped the paper to reveal a smooth dark shiny bottle of Mexican Vanilla. I cracked the top, brought the bottle to my nose closed my eyes and let the fragrance work its magic. Immediately I knew this vanilla was different than any I had ever met - like a great bottle of wine there were complex things happening inside the bottle - the heady scent of buttery caramel, the sweet joy of the 'Happy Birthday' scratch and sniff stickers from my childhood, combined with images of the clear barley 'Toy Candy' my mum used to buy every Christmas when we were kids. I opened my eyes and found myself back in our kitchen, no longer 12 years old clutching my stickerbook under my arm. It always makes me wonder - how many more times in my life will I think about those memories? It's truly wondrous what a smell can do to you. I tucked the bottle into my baking cupboard and we had a great dinner.

Two weeks later, 'Mr. and Mrs.' hosted a wedding reception at their house. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if they had something at their Nova Scotia reception with a little Mexican authenticity?' This is where the Mexican Wedding Cakes come in. I had never heard of them before but after some online research I found a great recipe on Epicurious. They looked cute in the photo, had a ton of rave reviews, seemed super easy and would give me the chance to use my Mexican Vanilla!! I offered to make a batch to use as a wedding favour and my offer was quickly and graciously accepted. 

Two days before the reception, I baked 100 'cakes' (the cakes are actually bite-sized nutty shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar). One day before, I created and printed personalized tags and put each cake into its own small clear cellophane bag. I tied each bag with a piece of bright, festive ribbon laced with a tag and displayed them in a large galvanized metal bucket. When we left the reception Sean and I took a few cakes home with us. I liked the cakes but Sean LOVED them - he said they were his favourite thing that I've made yet since we've been together. I told him that was a BOLD statement but he insisted it was true. Men are so easy to please!!

Click here for the recipe!!