poached pears with mascarpone
These were very well received. I was pretty pleased with them myself. The wine sauce was excellent and the mascarpone filling was excellent. I kept telling people it was a Mark Bittman recipe, but it is in fact a Michael Chiarello recipe. I never watched his show for more than a few minutes but I think he did a lot of stuff that would be right at home in a Bittman cookbook: simple but no shortcuts. Whether or not that's actually true, this was a very simple recipe.
I used vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean. I used three different sugars but only because I had small amounts laying around. I think those were my only deviations from the recipe.