Archive for November 2005

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Barbara made this wonderful pumpkin flan for the company potluck, leaving out the chile and pepper. It’s from Martha Stewart Living!

Southwestern Pumpkin Flan
Serves 8 to 10

1 cup sugar
1 can (15 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Cook, without stirring, until sugar turns dark amber, about 8 minutes. Pour into a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside to cool.

Blend pumpkin, condensed milk, and whole milk in a blender until smooth. Add eggs and yolk, cinnamon, salt, chile powder, cloves, and cayenne; blend until smooth. Pour mixture over caramel in pan. Carefully transfer pan to a large roasting pan. Add hot water to roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of cake pan.

Bake until set and beginning to turn golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Run a knife around edges; invert to unmold. Scrape remaining sauce from pan over flan. Serve immediately.


Written by orata

November 23, 2005 at 6:34 pm

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I made this for the company Thanksgiving potluck, substituting Quorn tenders for the chicken and toasted cashews for the walnuts. I did add the eggplant and cinnamon, and also some cumin.


(Persian chicken in pomegranate-walnut sauce)
Yield: 4-6 servings

Butter or oil 1/4 cup
Chicken cut into serving pieces 2 1/2 to 3 lbs
Onions sliced thinly 2 each
Walnuts finely ground in a food processor 2 cups
Stock or water 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Pomegranate syrup (see notes) 2/3 cup
Sugar 1 – 3 T
Salt & pepper to taste

Basic Steps: Sauté ? Simmer
Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the chicken pieces a few at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the onions and sauté in remaining butter or oil till translucent.
Stir in the ground walnuts, stock or water and browned chicken pieces. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes.
Stir in the pomegranate juice, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sauce should have a balanced sweet-sour flavor. Simmer another 15-20 minutes till chicken is tender, sauce is somewhat thickened and the walnuts begin to give off their oil. Serve with plain white rice.
Use duck instead of chicken. Trim of all excess fat, and spoon off excess fat as dish cooks.
Pomegranate syrup, sometimes called pomegranate molasses, is available in most Middle Eastern and health food stores. If it is unavailable, you can use an equal amount of frozen, concentrated cranberry juice. The flavor is roughly the same. If using fresh pomegranate juice, use 1 1/2 to 2 cups and cut back on the stock or water.
Add 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 1/2 tsp cinnamon when sautéing the onions for a richer flavor.
Add a little more sugar if the sauce is too tart, a little bit of lime or lemon juice if it is too sweet.
The chicken can be marinated in a few squeezes of lime juice for a few hours if you like.
A peeled and cubed eggplant is sometimes added. Sauté the eggplant along with the onions. You may need to add a little more liquid to the simmering stew.
Fesenjan, also known as khoresht-e fesenjan, is special occasion food in Iran. It is traditionally made with duck or pheasant in the north of the country along the Caspian sea. It is a thick, rich, sweet-sour dish that improves in flavor the next day.

Written by orata

November 21, 2005 at 12:38 am

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Here’s my idea for a dessert for the Thanksgiving potluck: dip fresh figs in dark chocolate. Wrap the figs in phyllo and bake till crispy.

I am planning to make a rice pilaf with cranberries and pomegranate fake chicken (fesanjan). I’ll have to sub cashews for the walnuts. The figs are still iffy.

Written by orata

November 17, 2005 at 1:22 pm

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The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy, of Key Lime Pie: a juggling performance in four acts

2 sticks butter (or use leaf lard or vegetable shortening)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
About 1/3 cup water

1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt

This is the standard Joy of Cooking flaky pastry recipe. Cut the butter into pieces and rub it into the flour, sugar, and salt until it reaches a texture like coarse crumbs, with a few lumps of butter here and there. Pour in the water. Mix just until it congeals into a big rough ball. Chill in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or more.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and divide it into two balls. Flour a rolling pin and a board and roll out the dough. Place it into two pie pans and trim off the overhanging edges. (If you’re patient, put them back into the fridge for another hour or so to let them relax so they won’t shrink in the oven. I am not patient.) Put a big square of tinfoil over each pan. (The edges should cover the entire pie crust, to keep it from browning too much at first.) Put raw beans, rice, or pie weights into the foil to weigh down the pie and keep the crust from bubbling and puffing. I have a Ziplok bag labeled “PIE BEANS” in my cabinet. I imagine it is a fairly cryptic artifact to come across, unless you bake pie crusts from scratch.

Begin Act II. Bake the crusts for 20 minutes.

Remove the crusts from the oven, take the foil and pie weights out of them, and prick them all over with a fork. Place them back into the oven for about 10 or 15 minutes to let them brown.

Take the crusts back out. Whisk together the egg yolk and salt. Brush the crusts with the egg yolk to waterproof them, and put them back in the oven for a few more minutes to let the egg yolk cook.

1/2 cup lime juice
3-4 tsp lime zest
1 (14 or 15-ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk, of any fat content
4 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix everything together. Divide the filling between the two crusts. Go to Act III; prepare the cornstarch paste. Place the pies in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, until the filling is just thick enough to support the meringue. While the filling is baking, go immediately to Act IV.

1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

Mix the cornstarch and 1 Tbsp sugar together in a small saucepan. Add the water very gradually (or the cornstarch will become lumpy) and heat the mixture to a boil, stirring vigorously. Let the mixture boil for about 15 seconds, stirring the whole time, then remove from the heat and cover. You should have a translucent paste.

Place the egg whites in a clean, greaseless, yolk-free bowl. Beat until foamy. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar, then the 1/2 cup sugar, little by little, and then whip at high speed until it forms stiff peaks. It should not look dry yet.

Add the cornstarch paste a little bit at a time, beating at low speed. When all the cornstarch has been mixed in, beat at medium speed for 15 seconds.

Once the meringue has been prepared, it won’t last long.
The crust must be filled while it’s hot, or it will get soggy.
The meringue must go onto the filling while it’s hot, or it won’t cook properly–it will get soft and weep, since the bottom surface won’t cook as quickly as the top unless the hot lime filling is cooking it from underneath at the same time.

So: as soon as the pies have been filled, the meringue has been whipped to peaks, and the filling has been baked just enough to set it, remove the pies from the oven. Dab a band of meringue around the edges, making sure it touches the crust all the way around; if it doesn’t, it will pull back at that point. Fill in the center with more meringue. Smooth it out. Bake for another 20 minutes, and then remove the pies and let them cool.

Exeunt omnes.

Written by orata

November 7, 2005 at 12:58 am

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Hominy Casserole
Just made this. It’s really tasty–I think because of the amazing heirloom tomatoes (from my garden and Monterey Market).

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped (to make ~1/2 cup)–I used Honeycrisp, because that’s what I had, but that’s probably not the optimal apple for baking.
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can white hominy, rinsed and drained
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
3″ stem of fresh oregano, chopped
5-6 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
About 3 cups chopped tomatoes
3 slices of white bread, grated into breadcrumbs (I toasted them and grated off as much as I could–the rest I crumbled into coarse pieces)
About 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Saute the onions, apples, and peppers in olive oil until the onions are soft and beginning to color. Season with the herbs, salt, pepper, and MSG. Add the tomatoes and cook a few minutes longer. Spoon half the hominy mixture into a large casserole dish. Top with the large, crumbled breadcrumbs. Spoon in the rest of the hominy mixture. Mix the fine breadcrumbs and grated cheese and use this mixture to cover the top of the casserole. Dot with butter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is browned.

Quark Cheesecake
This is still baking as I write this, so we’ll see how it turns out…

For the crust:
2 cups almond meal (from Trader Joe’s)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, softened
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a pie pan. Mush all the ingredients together in another bowl. Press the crust firmly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes, until brown.

For the filling:
1 container lowfat quark (16 ounces/about 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Stir the sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice and zest into the quark. Add more sugar to taste. When you’re happy with the flavor, stir in the egg–mix well, until the mixture is creamy, with no yellow streaks of yolk. Pour into the crust. Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the filling is more or less set but still wobbles a little bit. (I’m waiting to see if 45 minutes is an accurate time estimate, and if I should have added another egg for the filling to set properly.)

Coming very soon, because I have a ton of limes: Key lime pie!

Written by orata

November 6, 2005 at 10:05 pm

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