Monday, November 26, 2007

Banana Walnut Muffins with Dulce de Leche Frosting

I adapted this recipe from All Recipes to incorporate some dulce de leche, and to add frosting - not just any frosting but my new favorite frosting. This frosting also goes well with carrot cake, apple cake and anything pumpkin.


INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda or powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup dulce de leche
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, walnuts and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and dulce de leche. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into muffin cups
3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.


FROSTING:

12 ounces cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche


Mix cream cheese and dulce de leche until very well blended. Spread on muffins. Refrigerate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?

... for a holiday fruitcake people might actually eat... and with gusto? How about Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake, courtesy David Lebovitz? Yum. I might throw in some candied chestnuts and chestnut puree and call it an In the Bag dessert for the contest over on A Slice of Cherry Pie. Except I have another chestnut-chocolate recipe I want to make for that.

Here is another great recipe, for all of us who love maple syrup, maple cream pie, from The Smitten Kitchen.

And Exclusively Food's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Modify this recipe by substituting orange flavoring for vanilla, throwing in a pinch of oraneg zest and using only dark chocolate chips.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Edible Cups and Fresh Fruit Soda


Edible but not too tasty, but disposable and biodegradable at least...


I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Back in food science class, we scooped out the fruit from oranges, leaving the shells intact except for part lopped off the top. We juiced the fruit, added sugar, gelatin and cream, put this into the emptied orange shells, then chilled it.


If I cut a bit more off the top, it would make an excellent glass. In India we have sweet limes, which are as big as oranges, so I used the juice for a fresh lime soda:


Per serving

1/4 cup sweet lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
a sprig of mint
4 ounces soda water


Mix all ingredients and pour into the emptied sweet lime shells. Garnish with a sprig of mint. In summer, freeze the fruit shells to stiffen them up and provide extra cooling. These can also be used for ice water or fruity cocktails. Of course, coconut sheels and hollowed out pineapples have long been used as beverage containers.


Next I try stiff, frozen gelatin cups...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Edible Dishes

Last night I served a lot of things in edible dishes -- less cleanup, and they look nice. So there was cucumber, dill sour cream and smoked salmon in cucumber cups, potato corn soup in phyllo cups and artichoke emmenthal cheesecake in carrot cups (the carrot cups were superb, but I overbaked the cheesecakes and didn't serve them, alas). Next time I might experiment with plates made of baked bread and am trying to figure out a way to make drinking glasses of hard sugar candy -- once I figure out how to make a mold for them.

For dessert we had dulce de leche pumpkin custard pie. Here's David Lebovitz's recipe for making Dulce De Leche.

Dulce De Leche Pumpkin Custard Pie

15 ounces of cooked or canned pumpkin
1 cup dulce de leche
3/4 cup cream
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp, cinnamon
1/4 tsp,. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch salt

1- 9" pie crust.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake pie crust at that temperature for 8 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake ten minutes longer. Remove from oven.

Mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, cream, dulce de leche, and egg yolks. Beat until well blended. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites gently into pumpkin mixture and pour into pie crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until clean knife inserted into center comes out mostly clean, with just a few flecks of pumpkin on the knife. Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Carrot Cups


These make edible dishes for all sorts of fillings.


2 cups grated carrots
1 large egg
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Squeeze all moisture possible out of the carrots (this is very important). Add salt and pepper and mix well. Add egg and mix well, Add flour,mix well.


Grease a muffin tin very very well. Put a large spoonful of mixture into muffin cup and press to coat the bottom and sides. The mixture should be about 1/8 inch thick, and even all over. Make sure there are no gaps or holes.


When all the muffin cup are done, put in 400 degree oven for ten minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until gently browned. Let cool, and then remove from muffin tins using a knife to loosen them. grease a cookie sheet. Place the carrot cups upside down on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20minutes more until bottoms are lightly brown and cups are crisp.


Fill with stew, soup, ratatouille, mashed potato or a cream cheese appetizer.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

12:03 a.m. meal and 3:45 a.m. Snack


I made half-whole wheat egg noodles last night:


1 cup superfine flour or maida
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt


Make well in 2 cups flour. Put eggs in well. Add salt. Stir until well mixed. Roll out thin, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips, let dry.


I boiled them up tonight in some seasoned chicken stock, threw in some parboiled brocolli and ate that with the homemade beer bread I made a couple of days ago.


A few hours later I was hungry again, so I took a piece of beer bread and toasted it lightly, then spread some pesto on it, very thin, topped it with three big sundried tomatoes, and then topped it all with shards of parmesan cheese. Broiled the lot in a 250 degree oven until the cheese was melted. Heaven.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I*T


This recipe was developed by some friends who tried to market the product to some big (but ethical) cosmetic companies as a budget cosmetic product that supported the fair trade tea industry as well (it was going to use discard fair trade tea leaves). It turns out those big companies are only interested in expensive products. So here is the recipe for you to make at home. This is an under-eye patch with an all natural lotion. You need a juicer for this.


1 foot of unbleached cotton
1 quart glass jar
pH strips

3tbsp. cucumber juice
1/2 cup aloe vera gel
1/2 cup glycerine
1/3 cup evening primrose oil
2 Tbsp. green tea extract
1/4 tsp. lecitihin
1/8 tsp - 1/4 tsp. agar
2 drops peppermint (optional)


Mix all ingredients except agar and peppermint in a sauce pan and simmer. Add agar, bit by bit, whisking just until the mixture has a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat and add 1-2 tiny drops of peppermint extract. Whisk and test with ph strip. It should come in at around 7. If it is off, add a bit more aloe vera and primrose oil and test again. If it is too acidic, add a bit more cucumber juice and test again. Pour into sterilized glass jar. Refrigerate.


Cut clean, unbleached cotton into paisley shapes, about 1 inch long. Store in a dry container. When ready to use, dip two of the patches into the tea mixture and place under eyes. Before you do this, test a patch on your wrist to make sure you aren't allergic or overly sensitive to the ingredients.


I like the zing of the mint. it wakes me up and gives me an aromatherapeutic charge. But some people are sensitive to it so use the mint judiciously, if at all.


Use the excess fabric to make "I*Openers." Cut them into thin strips or dots and dip them in the minty mixture and place them on your temples for a quick pick me up.



If you copy this recipe over please attribute and link to the creators

Bacon Artichoke Cheesecake


I'm doing an early thanksgiving this year for a mixed group, American, Canadian, Australian and Indian. The pumpkin for the Pumpkin custard tart is almost ripe, and the turkey comes Friday. Also on the menu, two salads (a farfale pasta salad with grilled peppers, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes, an apple-walnut-celery and butter lettuce salad, plus homemade bread, stuffing, potatoes, gravy and two appetizers, one tba, and the following savoury cheesecake:


Crust
1 cup crushed crackers
1/3 melted butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Filling
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 eggs separated
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup crumbled bacon, drained and fat removed
1 cup preserved artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp,. white pepper

Topping
1/2 cup ground coarse almonds, toasted lightly
or
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
or
1/4 cup chopped green onions


Preheat the oven to 360 degrees. Grease an 9x9 inch springform pan with cooking oil or spray with Pam.


For the crust, grind crackers in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. (I like to use a combination of saltines and onion-garlic crackers and am tempted by ry-krisps.) Add butter and parmesan and mix well. Press crumb mixture into pan. Refrigerate.


For the filling, beat cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add salt and pepper, then egg yolks, cream and sour cream. Mix until airy and fluffy. Whip egg whites and fold them into this mixture gently. Then fold in artichokes pieces and crumbled bacon. (Note: squeeze all the moisture from the bacon and the artichoke pieces with paper or clean cloth towels before adding them.) Pour over the cracker crumb crust. Bake at 360 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until just set in the center. Top with your choice of topping. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into squares.


Vegetarians can substitute chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes for the bacon. Vegans might want to try one of these recipes .


Other fans of savoury cheesecake might like to try this Roquefort and pear cheesecake from Delia.


For Salmon cheesecake, substitute the bacon and artichokes with 1 cup smoked salmon, chopped up, and 1/2 cup grated emmenthal cheese.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beer Bread


This is a very easy beer bread recipe I adapted from Jodi Regan on all.recipes.com. It makes a heavy, dense bread great with soups or stews. I made a few modifications so the bread would be a bit lighter and airier.


INGREDIENTS


1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
3 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp grated parmesan


In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky. Divide dough into two parts and put into greased loaf pans. Cover and let sit in warm place for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When loaves have risen a bit, put in oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and return to oven for 3-5 minutes. This bread looks very "country." Note that you can replace the butter with olive oil or canola and the grated cheese with slivered almonds, sesame seeds or poppy seeds.

Midnight Snack 2:39 a.m.

Baked apple


1 apple cored
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
tiniest pinch ground clove

1 scoop frozen low-fat vanilla yogurt


Core apple so the bottom of apple remains intact, and keep the stem top.

Mix well butter, brown sugar and spices. Put this into the middle of the apple. If the well in the apple created by coring is not big enough, widen it a bit to accommodate the filling. Put top back on apple and place it into a greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until apple flesh is tender but not mushy. Serve with a dollop of frozen vanilla yogurt.

I had no frozen yogurt so had it without. It’s also good without the filling if you find a flavorful apple.

Alternate fillings:

Sharp cheddar cheese and toasted walnuts and or crumbled bacon

Sweetened cream cheese

Spiced red wine or liqueur of your choice.

I once stuffed phyllo pieces on top of the filling, fanned them out, baked them, then served them as Upside Down Apple Pies. Ok, it's stretch, but they bought it. Vegans can replace the butter with 1/2 tbsp. of canola oil.

May I Have Your Recipe?


Last night I roasted a chicken to get fat for the roast potatoes I am currently addicted to from Julia's A Slice of Cherry Pie blog. I made them Saturday with olive oil and they were delicious so I thought I'd try them with chicken fat. I'll use the chicken meat in a soup tomorrow.


And here are some other recipes I pulled off the blogs in the last few days:

Chocolate Caramel Slice from Baked.

Artichoke and Cheese Tarts from A Taste of Tina.

Beggar's Burgers from Green Gourmet Giraffe.

Coconut Ladoo from Aromas of My Food.

Scarborough Fair Martini from Five O'Clock Shakes.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Saturday Dinner + Salad from Leftovers


Saturday I hosted a dinner for an American photojournalist, his wife and their very funny Mumbai friend. In addition to the meat, a simple roast, we had these delicious roast potatoes sprinkled with rosemary and served with a choice of sour cream or mayonnaise, homemade bread, grilled peppers, this asparagus, and for dessert, strawberries in phyllo cups with whipped cream.


Today I used the leftover asparagus and peppers and made another farfale salad, with 1 quart of cooked farfale, 1 cup asparagus (al dente), 1 cup chopped grilled peppers, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 1/4 cup fresh tomatoes and 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup parboiled carrots, 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/3 cup crumbled bacon, fat removed. Sinful tasting, but aside from the bit of bacon, very good for one. This is tonight's midnight snack and lunch and dinner for the next two days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?


One of the side dishes I made for a dinner last night was this asparagus recipe from Simply Recipes. It was perfect:


1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.


Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Homemade Bread


Yesterday I made bread using the recipe below from cooks.com, and I've had little open faced sandwiches all day, homemade bread with a thin layer of butter + cucumber slices + a dollop of aoili + salt and pepper, homemade bread drizzled with olive oil and covered with sun-dried* tomatoes, homemade bread with a leaf of butter lettuce + a basil leaf + a sun-dried tomato + a slice of fresh mozz.


WARREN'S FRENCH BREAD BAGUETTES



6 to 7 c. bread or unbleached flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 pkg. yeast (Fleischmann's regular or Rapid Rise)
2 1/2 c. water (tap water, very hot to wrist)
Egg white for glaze


I use a heavy duty mixer because of the large amount of flour.
Put about 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast into a large mixer bowl. Mix by hand. Then mix in the water, again by hand. Mix by machine, adding more flour as needed using dough hook. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl; cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Cover with inverted mixer bowl and let rest for 15 minutes approximately.


Divide dough into 4 pieces. Form a baguette from each piece by first beating it with your palm into an oval approximately 5x3 inches. Then roll the oval into a rope. Flatten the top with your hand (POUND IT) while simultaneously stretching it to about 2 feet long. Fold the flat rope into thirds and pound it with your palm into a rectangle approximately 10x4 inches. Roll the rectangle into a baguette. Place in prepared baguette pans. Make three 1/4 inch deep slashes with razor blade. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.


Brush baguettes with beaten egg white. Cover; let rise in warm place, about 45 minutes.


START WITH COLD OVEN. Put small pan of boiling water in bottom of oven. Spray (mist) the loaves with warm water. Start the oven at 450 degrees; after 10 minutes, spray loaves again, filling oven with mist. Continue baking for a total of approximately 35 minutes.


If loaves don't "thump" done and look nice and brown, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and check at 5 minute intervals for a nice hollow "thump." Cool as usual on wire racks. Please note, my baguettes have never looked like the ones you get in proper French bakeries, but they taste pretty good, and every time I try this I get a little bit closer to the ideal.


* Italian food is very popular here, so now it is possible to get very good and inexpensive, locally-grown and packed Italian foods. I've been eating sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil like it is going out of style.

Friday, November 9, 2007

3:38 a.m. Snack



Penne with olive oil, roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, oregano and sun-dried tomatoes.


That and a pinch of salt is the recipe in its entirety. Toast the pine nuts and roast the garlic while the penne is cooking. Took 20 minutes. Very satisfying.

Diwali Fruit and Nut Scones


Dried fruit and nuts are traditional during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. I make these scones for friends who celebrate the holiday. But they're nice anytime of the year.

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
½ cup walnuts
2- 2 1/2 cups cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or half and half
1/4 cup brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently stir in raspberries, taking care to keep them as whole as possible. Add walnuts and dried cherries. If mixture is too moist add a little more flour.

Whisk eggs with 1/3 cup of milk or half-and-half. Gently stir into the flour mixture.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Gently roll into round shape, ½ inch thick. Cut into wedges and plce on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. While baking, mix remaining milk with brown sugar and drizzle on top of scones. Bake 3-5 minutes longer.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Spiced Cider Applesauce


This is a lovely sauce for pork or chicken. Instead of the usual puree style apple sauce, this one uses apple slices poached in spiced cider.

Ingredients:


1 quart apple cider
3 cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cumin (optional)
1/2 cup Calvados (optional)
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt

2 tbsp. flour


8 apples, Granny Smith or Macintosh, cored, peeled and sliced

Mix all ingredients but flour and apples in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn to lowest setting and let simmer for at least 1/2 hour. Add apple slices and simmer until apples are cooked but still slightly firm. Remove apples from cider and set aside.

Remove one half cup of the cider mixture and cool. Add it to the flour and whisk until you have a fine paste. Add slowly to the saucepan, whisking as you do, and stir until sauce is thickened to a syrup consistency. If it is too thick, add some more cider, gradually, until you get the desired consistency, Add apples and simmer for 5-10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally to make sure sauce doesn't burn. Serve sauce over pork chops or chicken breasts.

I sometimes add 1/4 tsp. of cumin, as a cumin lover. If you're serving grownups, you can add 1/3-1/2 cup Calvados to give it a little extra zing.

If you have more than you need, you can preserve it with the hot water process, or simply pour into a glass container and save in the fridge for a few days.

Trojan Horse Stuffed Double Potatoes

This is a great way to get kids to eat vegetables. I make these with half mashed potato and half mashed sweet potato, but you could sneak a carrot in there as well. These baked potatoes are a great hiding place for veggies kids might not eat on their own.

Ingredients:


4 baking potatoes
4 sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. milk
4 cloves of garlic (or 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and a pinch of cumin -- see below)
1/2 cup diced lean ham
salt and pepper

Roast garlic. Bake your potatoes, sweet and plain, as usual. Remove inside of sweet potatoes and puree with the roasted garlic. Remove inside of baking potatoes (keep the skins). Mash potatoes with butter and milk. Add sweet potato garlic mixture and diced ham. Mix well and put in baking potato skins, piling them high. Put in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve as is or with sour cream.

If you find you have more potato mixture than the skins can handle, don't worry. Just add a bit of beaten egg, milk, baking powder and flour to the excess and turn them into double potato pancakes for breakfast.

I love roasted garlic but many kids prefer this dish with a bit of cinnamon and cumin instead.

Vegetarians can take out the ham, and vegans can also replace the butter with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and substitute soy milk for cow milk.

You can replace the sweet potato portion of the recipe with pureed spinach (add some toasted slivered almonds or a little pesto too), or thick tomato confit (not juicy or your filling will turn to liquid,) sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed mushrooms.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Banana Orange Crepes


I used to make this one in my college dorm room and it is still a favorite of mine. (I ran with a crowd who could make great four-course meals with a hot plate and a toaster oven so standards were a little higher than the usual one-pot fudge or popcorn.) Ready made crepes and aerosol whipping cream make this one a breeze.


You'll need three long dishes, a little longer than a banana.


Ingredients:


4 firm, but not green, bananas
2 cups orange juice
2 Tbsp. Cointreau
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. orange zest
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup milk
cooking oil
whipped cream
8 small ready made crepes


Mix orange juice, cointreau, orange zest and sugar until sugar is dissolved and pour into a long, wide dish, at least 2 inches deep.


Cut bananas in half lengthwise. Put in orange juice mixture and let soak for 15 minutes.


Beat egg and milk and pour into another long dish.


Mix flour and cinnamon and put into the third long dish.


Heat 1/4 inch of canola oil in a large fry pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Remove 1/2 banana carefully and dip in egg milk mixture. Then dip in flour cinnamon mixture until well-coated. Fry in hot oil for about two minutes on each side, or until very lightly browned. Drain on paper towel then carefully roll banana in crepe and place in greased baking pan. Continue with rest of bananas. When all the bananas are fried and rolled in crepes, put the pan in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Take orange juice mixture and boil until it is syrupy. You can thicken it with a tablespoon of the dipping flour if you like.


Serve crepes hot in a pool of the orange sauce. Top with whipped cream. You can make this without the crepes, but I think of the crepes as a fail-safe measure. If the bananas break up, the crepe hides the damage.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

May I Have Your Recipe?

A few of the delicious recipes I took off the web this week (these links open in a new window):

Cantaloupe Caviar via Hungry in Hogtown.

Basic Vanilla Marshmallows from Brownie Points.

Sweet Sushi from Brownie Points.

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup from Smitten Kitchen.
Chicken Chianti from Leftover Queen.
I learned something new about roasting potatoes.

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

When I was in college, one of my classmates gave me a small round box of Breton salted caramels she'd picked up in France. I love the taste of caramel, but its over-sweetness is too much for me. But the Breton caramels were perfect, the salt in them cut the sweetness just enough. Once I discovered you could buy the caramels in the fancy food shops of New York, I was unstoppable. I used Breton caramels to coat candy apples, making them possibly the most expensive caramel apples in the world, and found the salt a perfect complement to the tartness of the apples too. Later I applied the principle to a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, upping the salt in the recipe (and removing the pecans):

Pastry for two 9" pie crusts
8 Granny Smith Apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin
2 Tbsp.Flour
2/3 cup Butter
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt, as per your taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add salt. Add brown sugar, stirring often, until the mixture is the consistency of syrup. If it is not salty enough for you, this is when you add a little more. Remove from heat.
Mix apples with flour until all are lightly coated. Pour brown sugar-butter mixture into apples and stir until are all lightly coated. Pour apple filling into pastry shell and top with remaining pastry circle. Seal, and bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, then reduce temperature to 325 and bake for 35 minutes longer, or until crust is nicely and lightly browned. Let cool for at least 1/2 hour. Serve with creme fraiche or a dollop of ice cream.

Want more caramel? Try this gem from the Smitten Kitchen.
"Thy breath is like the steame of apple-pyes."
Robert Greene (1590) Arcadia

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Farfale Salad with Grilled Peppers

When my camera is fixed I will take a photo of this salad and post it. It is lovely jewel-like salad, flavorful and healthy. I make a big bowl once or twice a week and keep in the fridge to snack on.

3 red peppers
3 yellow peppers
3 orange peppers
2 green peppers
6 gloves garlic
1 large cucumber
3 tomatoes

1 1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbes de provence
1/4 tsp. crushed oregano.

3 quarts water
1/2 tsp. sea salt
enough Farfale pasta to make 1 quart

Put 3/4 cup olive oil in large roasting pan. Cut peppers in half, remove stems and seeds and place skin side up in roasting pan. Add the cloves of garlic, skins still on. Broil at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until peppers are blackened. Cool. Take peppers out, and reserve olive oil. Remove skin. Chop in small pieces all but one half of each color pepper, red, yellow, orange and green. Put in small bowl. Remove skins from roasted garlic and mash up. Mix with the peppers pieces. Cut up cucumber and tomatoes and add to peppers and garlic. Add 3/4 cup of the olive oil not used in the grilled peppers, 1/4 tsp. sea salt and herbs. Stir and let sit. Reserve the remaining half peppers for garnish.

Boil up farfale pasta according to package directions, adding 1/4 tsp, sea salt to the water. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and toss with the olive oil reserved from the roasting pan. Cool, and then add the diced peppers and olive oil mixture. Stir in Balsamic vinegar. Cut remaining peppers into strips and garnish salad with them.

This salad is even better the next day, after the flavors have mixed. This makes a nice vegetarian dish - make it even healthier with some brolloci and carrots -- but it's also good with tuna or medium rare strips of beef sirloin. That's the great thing about pasta salad, it leaves a lot of room for individual variations.


Where I Want to Go When I Die

Grilled peppers always make me think of dinner at L J's home in Vermont. She made them, perfectly, the flesh cooked just right, soft and tender but not mushy, lightly lightly caramelized in their own sweet spicy juices. Many attempts to replicate them brought mixed and never quite satisfactory results.

But L J had the advantage of working in a near-perfect kitchen. L J had an old Victorian house, with a huge kitchen that was bigger than the apartment I was living in at the time. It was a room of dark woods and rounded corners with a mix of warm and cheery colors only she would think of and pull off. She had the dining table in the kitchen as well as two sofas and a couple of comfortable overstuffed armchairs. Her kitchen was her living room. Brilliant.

It was well-organized -- she had a lot of workspace and room to move, and built in storage cupboards that were big enough to hide a body. But it wasn't anal, it was comfortable and cozy without being cloying, and full of endearing details, like little lamps that gave the illusion of eating in moonlight. It was the most beautiful kitchen I've ever seen.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pork Chops with Pears and Rum




I used to stay at a friend's farm for months at a time to chill and recharge, and would often cook on their wood stove. Food just tastes better cooked this way, though it's a bad way to cook delicate things as temperature control is difficult. But this dish was easy, and delicious.


6 pork loin chops
1 32 ounce can pears, or 6 pears, peeled, cored and poached
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup rum
1 Tbsp. oil
salt and pepper


Heat up fry pan. Brown chops on high heat, then reduce heat, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until chops are just barely done. Add butter. When butter is melted, add sugar. When this is almost caramelized, add pears and half of rum, cover and put into 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning chops once or twice in the pan to make sure they are coated with the sauce. Remove from oven and add rest of rum. Serve.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bean-Bell Pepper Dip

I adapted this from the Vegan Chef.


1 red pepper, seeded, and cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 - 15 oz. can cannellini or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
3-4 preserved Sun dried tomatoes.

And I quote: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the pepper and onion in rows on the foil. Broil the vegetables for 5-7 minutes or until slightly charred, and remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Flip over the vegetables, add the cloves of garlic to the cookie sheet, return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil an additional 5-7 minutes to slightly char the other side. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then gently remove the skin from the peppers. In a food processor or blender, place the roasted vegetables, white beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and process until smooth. Add the herbs and process for an additional 30 seconds to thoroughly incorporate it. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl. Use as a spread on crackers, bread, or sandwiches, or serve with raw vegetables. End quote.

I like it with some herbes de provence instead of the 3 Tbsp. of parsley the Chef recommends. You can also add a few sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil (drain them first) to the food processor to give it a little extra tang.

Moroccan Lamb Pear Tagine

The North Africans do such interesting things with Lamb and fruit, with sweet and spicy. This for instance:


2 lbs. lean lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 cubes
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 small onions, diced
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper (black)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat oil in large saucepan and fry onion until caramelized. Mix in the spices. Add lamb and water just to cover the lamb cubes. Cover and simmer 2 hours, checking periodically to ensure the water hasn't dried up. When meat is tender, add pears, almonds and raisins. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the pears are tender. Serve with rice or couscous. Leftovers heat up nicely and make a good, yes, midnight snack.

A proper earthenwaretagine is on my wish list.

Poor Girl's Caviar Dip

Sturgeon caviar is prohibitively expensive, but it's perfectly fine to splurge on the lumpfish variety. Eat this with blinis , whole wheat toasts or black bread.

2 ounces black lumpfish roe
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. onions chopped fine
one boiled egg chopped
pinch lemon zest
capers

Combine all ingredients, except capers. Do not add salt. The lumpfish roe is salty enough. Garnish with the capers.

Sandwiches


I love bread, so naturally, I am a big sandwich person, and am always on the lookout for new and old ideas for sandwich fillings. One of the most interesting sandwiches I've ever had was simple, a fried egg between mint leaves, on whole wheat bread, lightly spread with butter, salt and pepper. This was the creation of my friend Manu in India. It was perfect with morning tea. Only he would think to combine mint and fried egg. When I went home I tried it with basil, and it wasn't bad at all, but the mint was something special.
The baguette is a great vehicle for all sorts of fillings.


1. Fresh mozz, sliced farm tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves, drizzled with herb-infused olive oil.

2. A classic, nice Italian ham, butter lettuce and emmenthal cheese

3. Nutella and bananas, sliced lengthwise

4. Grilled peppers, peeled and dripping with olive oil, with thin shards of parmesan reggiano and/or Italian sausage

5. The salad of your choice. I recommend salade landaise or salade nicoise -- the latter makes a very upscale, delicious and simple tuna salad sandwich

6. Peanut butter and a) honey b) jam c) bananas or d) crispy bacon. I like c and d together. Yeah, me and Elvis.

Sometimes all you need is the bread and butter, like when you get hold of some proper Russian black bread. Add a cold beer and you've got two servings of grain in the deal.