Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Charlotte native bests Canadians in contest

Francie Rudolph, 24, of Charlotte is a culinary arts student at the Art Institute of Vancouver. But Rudolph took on Canada recently and was named the grand prize winner of a Canadian contest for pear recipes, the 2012 "Pear Excellence" Canadian Culinary Student Recipe Competition, sponsored by USA Pears.

Rudolph won $2,500 and coverage on Canadian TV with her winning dish, Pear and Sweet Goat Cheese Filled Beignets.

Rudolph went to Charlotte Country Day School and the College of Charleston before heading to Vancouver and the Art Institute.

Pear and Sweet Goat Cheese Filled Beignets

¾ cup warm water
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ envelope active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup evaporated milk
3 ½ cups bread flour
⅛ cup shortening
Oil, for deep-frying
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Pear and Sweet Goat Cheese Filling:
2 cups green Anjou pears, peeled,
cored, diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, crushed
2 pieces dried orange peel
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon each freshly grated lemon zest and juice
¾ cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Spiced Nuts:
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
⅔ cup white granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg white, at room temperature
1 pound walnuts pecans, or hazelnuts
Candied Pear Chips
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Green Anjou USA Pear
Port Wine Reduction
2 cups Stoney Ridge Forte Port (from Ontario)
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Beignets: Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, beat the egg, salt, and evaporated milk together. Add egg mixture to the yeast mixture.
Add the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir. Remove
dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl
with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm
place for at least 2 hours.

For the pear filling: Sauté diced pears, ginger, and orange peel in butter over medium-low heat until
soft. Remove from heat and cool. Puree half the pear mixture until thinned out, adding lemon juice.
Stir in remaining pear mixture, soft goat cheese, honey, powdered sugar and grated lemon zest.

For the spiced nuts: Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon; set aside. Beat egg white and water
until frothy. Add nuts and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture and toss until evenly
coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake at 300
degrees for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool.

For the pear chips: Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slice pear on a mandolin
slicer, or as thin as possible with a knife. Add pear slices to simple syrup and cook for 1 minute. Remove
slices from pot and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours.

For the sauce: Combine wine and zest in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce until the sauce is
thick and syrupy.

To prepare beignets: Preheat oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch
thickness and cut into 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of pear and goat cheese mixture
into center of dough. Fold dough over and pinch to enclose the dough. Deep-fry, flipping constantly,
until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper
towels, and then dust with confectioners’ sugar.