Yogurt Scones with Roasted Pears and Chocolate Chunks


Dave and Lorie, Steve’s brother and sister-in-law were in New York city last weekend. The flew up from Raleigh, NC to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. We met up with them for brunch on Sunday at the Bryant Park Grill, a restaurant right behind the New York Public Library on the edge of Bryant Park. We had just been seated at our table and placed our drink orders when Lorie turned to me and half-whispered: Is that who I think it is, sitting behind you? I turned around and saw a handsome, older man, with perfect hair, wearing a black dress shirt and a dark, orange tan, sitting right next to me. I recognized him immediately. It’s Mitt Romney, I half-whispered back to Lorie. We both smiled and the four of us went back to catching up.

That’s one of the things I love about living in New York city. Not the celebrity sightings per se, but the fact that when you do see someone famous, they are often doing exactly what you are doing: walking the streets (I walked next to Ted Donovan the very next day after the Romney sighting), taking the subway, eating at a restaurant right next to you. The walking-centered life of the city and the sheer density of it means that no matter how famous you are, it’s hard to hide behind a limo’s darkened windows or in private rooms in restaurants. It also means that New Yorkers will see you and go on with their lives (most of the time). You won’t be hassled or stopped for autographs and selfies.

So, the next time you are in New York, or if you live here, and you are standing in line at a coffee shop ordering your half-caf latte and a roasted pear and chocolate chunk scone, look around you. That woman with the long, curly hair standing behind you might just be Sarah Jessica Parker. And if she is, don’t freak out and yell Carrie! in a high-pitched girlie voice. Be cool and act like nothing happened.

Oh who am I kidding! If you do see SJP, you have my permission to go fanboy/fangirl-crazy. But just this once. You’re back to your cool and aloof New Yorker self after that.


Yogurt Scones with Roasted Pears and Chocolate Chunks – Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 large (or 3 small) firm pears
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup (7 oz) Greek yogurt (full fat)
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped in chunks
1 large egg and 1 tablespoon water, whisked together
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core the pears and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear pieces on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and start to brown underneath, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven but leave oven on. Allow pear pieces to cool while preparing the rest of the recipe.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, cream, and 1 egg until combined. Pour yogurt mixture over flour mixture and gently fold it with a spatula until it just comes together. Add cooled pear pieces and chocolate chunks and fold a few more times. Don’t overtax.

Dump dough on a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 wedges and transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper, at least two inches apart. Brush with egg and water mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Brown Sugar Clafoutis with Pears and Cranberries


My evolution as a cook and a baker has mirrored my life. At first (in my early twenties), much like a baby, I took small hesitant steps in the kitchen and I was amazed by just about everything I cooked (instant ramen noodles!). I soon grew more daring, and, like a hyperactive toddler, started to experiment wildly with my newfound hobby, most of the time falling flat on my face (undercooked chicken; burned veggies; I guess eggs will cook when you pour hot milk in them). A few years of cooking under my belt and I started to get serious. Just like a precocious teenager or a self-involved young adult, I developed strong opinions (I only use European style butter!) and became decidedly preoccupied with appearances. I wanted everything I cooked to look amazing. Flavor was important but presentation was king.

I guess I’ve now reached the middle age stage of my life as a cook (conveniently at the same time as the middle age stage of my actual life). Much of the time my cooking is about simplicity, convenience, and strong flavor. I favor recipes that make intuitive sense and result in deeply satisfying food without too much fuss.


This recipe fulfills those criteria perfectly. It’s a clafoutis, a classic French dessert, but not the fancy kind. It’s basically a baked custard, made in a blender and baked with fruit. The original recipe appeared on Orangette, Molly Wizenberg’s extraordinary food blog. I adapted it slightly, to incorporate some left over cranberries and to add a hint of almond flavor. The result is a dessert that may lack in the looks department, but makes up for it in flavor and texture. And it comes together in minutes. You can eat it for dessert or you can do what we did and have it for breakfast. Because when you reach middle age, you can do whatever the hell you want.

DSC03457Brown Sugar Clafoutis with Pears and Cranberries – Adapted from Orangette


Butter, for greasing the pan
4 teaspoons white, granulated sugar
1 ripe pear
½ cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups (295 ml) whole milk
1 cup (155 g) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 ½-inch pie plate and dust it lightly with 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Shake out any excess.

Peel and core the pear, and slice it thinly in 14-16 slices. Arrange them on the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle chopped cranberries over the pears and top with the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar.

In the jar of a blender, combine the milk, brown sugar, eggs, extracts, salt, and flour. Blend on high speed for about 30 seconds. Pour the batter over the pears and cranberries.

Bake until the custard is puffed and golden brown and the center is almost completely set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.