Tag Archives: Gourmet Friends

Hippie Baklava Cake

5 Dec

Recipe Source: For the Love of Food

Baklava is my specialty – I’ve been making my great-grandmother’s recipe for years. And while I’m not at all biased in saying it is THE BOMB, and content to make it the same way over and over and over again, this take on a classic intrigued me. It’s a baklava cake rather than pastry, meaning no phyllo to wrestle with. And further, it’s gluten, soy, dairy, egg, and grain-free!

(I’m labeling this recipe as vegan, although I know some vegans do not eat honey. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a substitute that compares in flavor – agave is a neutral sweetener – and when it comes to baklava, I am a traditionalist.)

baklava cake

I also liked that this recipe calls for almond flour, as I’ve had 2.5 lbs of it sitting in my fridge for a while, neglected. I was intrigued by the use of saffron in this recipe, and happy to use the traditional rosewater, since my family recipe doesn’t call for it. Basically – nice job, Noosh! What’s not to love?!

saffron

Since there are no eggs in this recipe, chia seed meal is combined with applesauce to create a binder. (This can also be achieved with flax seeds.) If you’re thinking about Chia pets right now, you’re not far off – the edible grade of these seeds is considered a superfood, high in protein, calcium, fiber, iron, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Chia seeds absorb water, which gives them the perfect “gloopy” texture for replacing egg. I recommend grinding the seeds fresh in a coffee or spice grinder, if you have one.

chia meal & seeds

When the chia meal, applesauce, honey, rosewater, and saffron water are combined, they’ll have a syurpy texture. Combine with dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and baking powder) to form the dough.

wet ingredients texture

The texture of this dough is somewhat crumbly and moist. In the original recipe, Noosh allowed for a range of measurements for the honey, and I used the higher end. I also sifted my almond flour, and I think these two decisions made the cake very smooth, sweet, and dense. Next time, I will scale down the honey (already done below), and perhaps not sift the flour to get the more crumbly texture from her pictures.

dough texture

I love using pistachios as a garnish – the green and purple are so lovely and eye-catching, and colors you don’t often get in baked goods. Top each slice with pistachios and a slivered almond, and this makes a unique, wonderfully allergy-friendly treat!

pistachios & almonds

Just be forewarned – you’ll want to serve this cake in small pieces – it’s very rich!

baklava cake

RECIPE – Baklava Cake
(gluten, soy, dairy, egg, grain free)

1/2 cup organic applesauce (unsweetened-just apples)
1 Tbsp organic chia seed meal
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tablespoon rose water
2 cups almond flour (Trader Joe’s)/7 ¾ oz/220 g
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon of prepared saffron (optional)

Topping
Slivered almonds
Ground pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease either an 8” glass or parchment-lined pan.

If using saffron, grind threads with a mortar and pestle, add 1/2 tablespoon boiling water, and let sit while you go on to the next step.

In mixer bowl, beat applesauce with chia meal on high for one minute, stopping once to scrape down the sides and bottom.

Add honey, rosewater, and saffron (if using) and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: almond flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and baking powder. Add to mixer bowl and beat just until incorporated. Stir once or twice just to make sure the bottom was mixed in.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until top is lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a rack, slice in diamonds, and top with crushed pistachios and slivered almonds.

Double feature from our friends across the pond: British bird and muffins

10 Aug

Well up came that first cool cat,
He said: “Man, look at that!
Man, do you see what I see?
Well I want that middle chick”
“I want that little chick!”
“Hey man, save one chick for me”

Recipe source: Adapted from Elaine Lemm of about.com, original recipes here and here

Lemon Roasted Chicken

When my cooking club decided to have a British theme last month, I’ll admit, I raised an eyebrow. Among the many fond memories of my college semester in Cambridge, food did not feature. I thought about suddenly coming down with mad cow disease, or staying home to mourn the loss of my chances with Prince William and draw mustaches on the flawless Kate. But my friend Mary would have none of this, so I dubiously began looking up recipes.

This simple roast chicken was one I found, and although I don’t know how famously British it is, it sounded like a good opportunity for me to roast a whole chicken for the first time. Yes, embarrassingly enough, this food blogger had never roasted a whole bird.

Happily, I found the experience to be painless. I did modify the recipe slightly, to make it a wee bit more involved, but still brilliant. (I’m really working on all the English English I know, here.) I added carrots and onion into the pan and drastically reduced the amount of butter. Next time, I think I’ll mash some fresh herbs into the butter as well – perhaps rosemary or herbs de provence.

lemon roasted chicken

Jump to recipe, including my modifications, below.
Asparagus & Cheese Muffins

Although the chicken was lovely, it seemed a little pedestrian by itself, so I decided to make these muffins as well. With milk, yogurt, and cheese, if you’re in the mood to support dairy farmers, this is the recipe for you! It calls for Cheshire cheese, a cheese I’ve concluded is impossible to find in San Diego County. Wikipedia describes it as a “soft crumbly texture,” similar to a Wensleydale. But all the Wensleydale I found included fruit or berries, so I opted for an aged Irish white cheddar instead.

Kerrygold aged cheddar

Before folding the asparagus into the batter, the recipe calls for blanching the chopped stems. I love blanching green vegetables for the vibrant color they get, not to mention crispness. Green is my favorite color!

asparagus

The sad part about this recipe is that it makes about 20 muffins, although it is written for 12. The 12 spears of asparagus are enough for the batter, but not for decorating each muffin with a tip in the top. My suggestions for remedying this problem are as follows:

1) skip the decoration and just add the tips to the batter
2) cut tips off additional spears to make up for the recipe’s original sin
3) only give the decorated muffins to special people
4) sculpt eight lifelike asparagus tips from leftover green birthday candles
5) abandon recipe entirely and just eat the cheese

asparagus & cheese muffins

These muffins are pretty easy to make and would be lovely served at a brunch, as savory muffins are unusual and these have a slightly dry, biscuit-like texture. Of course, the muffins and chicken, served with a simple tossed salad on the side, would also make a nice dinner.

Jump to muffin recipe.

RECIPE – Lemon Roasted Chicken

1 3-lb 5oz/ 1.5kg roasting chicken
1/2 stick/55g butter, softened
1 medium lemon, halved
1 bulb garlic, skin on and halved across the bulb
2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
3.5 fl oz/100ml dry white wine
1/2 pint/200ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.

Place the chicken breast side up in a deep roasting tin. Massage the softened butter all over the chicken breasts, legs, sides, and under skin. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Tuck one half of the lemon and one half of the garlic into the chicken cavity. Squeeze the juice of the second half over the chicken breast, and pop the squeezed lemon into the roasting tin with the second half of the garlic bulb, carrots, and onion.

Place the roasting tin into the oven and cook for 1 hr 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Remove the chicken from the tin and wrap tightly in aluminum foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Place the roasting tin on a medium heat on the stove top and bring the juices up to a gentle simmer. Raise the heat to high and add the white wine. Stir the wine and juices thoroughly and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable stock, stir again and simmer until reduced by one third. Mash butter into flour, remove sauce from heat and vigorously whisk in flour-butter mixture to thicken.

Unwrap the chicken and add any juices released by the chicken into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, and strain into a warmed sauceboat or jug. Serve the chicken immediately with the sauce on the side.

RECIPE – Asparagus & Cheese Muffins

12 spears of asparagus, British when in season
14 oz/400g all-purpose flour (about 2.5 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
7 oz/200g Cheshire cheese, cubed
4 oz /125g butter (1/2 cup or 1 stick)
1 small bunch chives, snipped into pieces
2/3 cup/150ml milk
1/2 cup/100ml plain yogurt
1 tsp English mustard
2 eggs
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and spray with nonstick coating.

Cut the asparagus stems into small pieces, about 1 cm in length, leaving the tips a little longer and blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water, separating the tips from the pieces of stem.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and baking powder with the cheese. Melt the butter and pour into a jug. Add the chives, milk, yogurt, mustard and eggs. Mix well until combined and season generously with salt and pepper.

Gently fold the wet ingredients into the flour & cheese, and stir through the asparagus stems. Be careful not to over mix and stop as soon as the mixture is combined.

Spoon the mixture evenly between the muffin cases and push an asparagus tip into the middle of each.

Bake in the oven from 15-20 minutes until golden. Best eaten hot out of the oven, spread with a little cold butter.

Happy Mother’s Day! (and Lavender Teacookies)

8 May

My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
-Sharon Doubiago

Recipe source: Mom

Today’s blog is dedicated to my mom, who gave me this recipe, to thank her for loving weird ingredients like lavender as much as I do! (In case you missed it, also check out her fab lavender lemonade.)

Green Acres Lavender Farm
As I write this, the side door is open and a soft, cool spring breeze is rustling the leaves. Birds are chirping, and I’m thinking about how perfect these cookies are for this time of year. Like all great butter cookies, they have a light and crumbly texture, and a faint sweetness. The floral touch makes them elegant and unusual. And while I’m not especially talented when it comes to decorating, for more creative types, they are a blank canvas for icing. I personally enjoy a simple glaze on these, but the lavender-infused powdered sugar could easily be incorporated into a royal icing. In fact, I’ve adapted a royal icing recipe here for you to try, if your little heart so desires.

The dough for these cookies can be made a day ahead, which is convenient, since the powdered sugar for icing needs to mingle with lavender flowers for at least that long. Otherwise, this is a pretty simple recipe to throw together.

lavender flowers

You will start by smashing culinary lavender flowers with a mortar and pestle, or the back of a spoon. This is crucial to releasing the essential oils in the bud. Mix the flowers with powdered sugar and let it infuse in a plastic bag for at least a day. To make the cookie dough, cream together butter, sugar, more lavender flowers, vanilla extract and lemon extract.

butter mixture

Believe me when I say this is some of the most delicious butter you will ever taste.

lavender butter

Next mix in flour and salt, and refrigerate to firm up, about two hours. If you opt to refrigerate overnight, you may need to let the dough warm up a bit before rolling. Then roll out on a lightly floured surface as you would a standard sugar cookie, and cut into desired shapes. I went for “springy” shapes this time – a bunny, a chickadee, a fish and an elephant. Hey, how’d that last one get in there?

dough cutouts

The lavender flowers in this dough make it really interesting visually. You might notice some of them popping out of your shapes in unexpected ways… I caught one of my bunnies relieving himself and another sprouting whiskers! Feel free to pluck out any flowers that may be awkward to your design, and throw them back into the dough for the next roll.

chickies

Since these cookies aren’t incredibly sweet, I feel the glaze is necessary. Plus I love the smooth, hardened look it gives them. The glazing is easy to do with a basic dinner spoon. Let it dry for several hours or overnight to harden, and enjoy this delicate treat, preferably on a delicate kind of mid-morning Saturday, maybe with a little mimosa and jazz on the radio, or whatever makes you feel peaceful.

hearts

RECIPE – Lavender Tea Cookies

1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender flowers
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Lavender Glaze (see recipe below)

In a mortar, grind lavender flowers with the pestle. In a medium bowl, cream together ground lavender flowers, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Add flour and salt; mix until combined (dough should be soft but not sticky.) Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. When cool, top with lavender glaze and/or royal icing (recipes follow).

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Lavender Glaze:
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender flowers
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

In a small plastic bag, combine powdered sugar and dried lavender flowers. Let stand at least 1 day before using. When ready to use, sift the mixture into a medium-size bowl; discarding lavender flowers.

Add milk and corn syrup, mixing well. NOTE: Additional powdered sugar or milk may need to be added (enough milk to make frosting easy to spread). Spread on cooled cookies.

Lavender Royal Icing:
2 egg whites
2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender flowers
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

In a small plastic bag, combine powdered sugar and dried lavender flowers. Let stand at least 1 day before using. When ready to use, sift the mixture into a medium-size bowl; discarding lavender flowers.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and lemon extract. Beat at high speed until thickened. Dries hard.

blessed

Jicama Slaw with Herbacious Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

5 May

Recipe Source: What We’re Eating

scallions, cilantro, mint, jalapeno

I wish I could take credit for the name of this recipe, but alas, I can’t – it comes from a blog I recently stumbled upon via twitter (@whatwereeating), and the tone of the blog is as sassy as this recipe tastes! I love it, and I think you will, too.

If you think salads are mamby-pamby, think again, because this one is not for the faint of heart! THIS ONE is a flavor EXPLOSION! Or you might even like to say it’s like a party in your mouth. The serrano and raw onion give it a spicy kick, the lime juice and tamarind give it a refreshing tart zip, and the honey and jicama lend just enough sweetness to soften and round it out a bit, so no one flavor is overwhelming, but all blend together for an ultra-unique, utterly fabulous mix.

tamarind paste

This salad is a good deal of work to put together, so I reserve it for occasions where I’m going to be serving people. And so long as a lot of people will be noshing on it, I recommend doubling the recipe below. The way this is written, you will have leftover dressing. If you pair the salad with fish, as the original authors suggest, you can spoon the dressing onto the fish as well. Or save it to dress another salad, or use it all if you like soppy salads and living dangerously.

veggies - jicama, carrots, red onion, snow peas

The only modification I made from the original was to cut the amount of red onion in half, because I found it a bit too intense after a day or so. If you have a food processor with a grating blade, this is the time to use it – the jicama and carrots are shredded with perfect, fast uniformity. This is a great dish to take along to an outdoor summer picnic, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

jicama slaw

RECIPE – Jicama Slaw with Herbacious Spicy Lime Vinaigrette

for salad:
2 cups jicama, thinly julienned
1 cup snow peas, thinly julienned
1 cup carrots, thinly julienned
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

for herbacious spicy lime vinaigrette:
1 packed cup cilantro, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 serrano peppers, roughly chopped, (seeded or unseeded depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and freshly ground (can substitute store bought ground cumin but doesn’t have the same flavor)
1 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp water
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4-1/2 cup canola oil, depending on how tart you like it
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

make the vinaigrette:
Dissolve the tamarind paste in 2 tbsp of water. Add the tamarind/water mixture, cilantro, mint, green onions, serrano peppers, ground cumin, honey, and lime to a food processor. Process the ingredients until the herbs and peppers have been fully pulverized into tiny little bits. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Taste the dressing and season with salt and pepper as necessary.

assemble the salad:
In a mixing bowl, add the julienned jicama, snow peas, carrots and red onions. Pour about half of the vinaigrette over the julienned veggies then toss to coat. Taste the salad then season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper as necessary. Chill the salad for at least 20 minutes before serving.

This salad goes great with some simply seasoned and seared fish, such as red snapper. Enjoy!

Holiday treats: Sparking Cranberries & Spicy-Sweet Roasted Nuts

21 Dec

Recipe source: Sparkling Cranberries – 101 Cookbooks
Recipe source: Spicy Sweet Roasted Nuts – slashfood

Sparkling Cranberries

This post is written with many thanks to Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, for posting this recipe in the first place, and for her dedication to finding the just-right sugars for every step of the process. Better you than me, sister.

As with so many of my recipes, I found these little gems about a year ago and bookmarked them, only to forget about them. Then while I was scouring through my recipe-labeled emails to find an appetizer for Gourmet Friends, I discovered it again in an email I’d sent to myself. Thank you, Ghost of Christmas Past! These are a beautiful festive treat for a winter party, and very unique.

I’ve given only half the quantities of the original recipe here, because most people will only pop one or two each, for the novelty and intrigue. In general, people don’t go crazy over natural cranberries, and they’re sure to get some puckers from the kids, who think they look like candy. (Ha ha, suckers!) Rolling these berries perfectly is also incredibly time-consuming and laborious, and I think once you get to one cup, you won’t miss the second.

They really are pretty, though. I swear.

sparkling cranberries

To start, you’ll measure out a cup of fresh cranberries, making sure to pick out any shriveled or otherwise funky berries. Soak these overnight in a simple syrup (Heidi recommends making it with raw sugar, which gives a really nice molasses flavor).

cranberries

The next day, drain the berries. They should stay a little sticky and they’ll look really shiny and gorgemous. *ooooh, shiiiiiny*

While the berries are still wet, it’s time to roll them first in organic, unbleached sugar (a slightly bigger grain than your normal refined), and then in refined sugar. To set up a little station for yourself, you’ll need a bowl with your cranberries, a small bowl with organic unbleached sugar, a small bowl with regular refined sugar (and reserves of both), a slotted spoon, and the serving bowl for your finished cranberries. You’ll also want a comfy chair, ‘cuz this is gonna take a while.

cranberry rolling station

To coat, drop a berry into the organic sugar, shake off excess by tapping a slotted spoon against the bowl, then repeat in the refined sugar.

cranberry in sugar

Note: the sugar level in these bowls is too much. As you work through this process, some of the simple syrup will stay behind, creating lumps in your sugar. And that means lumps on your berries, which looks less like freshly fallen snow and more like the sludge the ice truck has pushed to the side of the road. You can see it starting a little in this picture, where I have attempted to roll entirely too many berries at once.

too many cranberries

In the end, though, with a little patience, you’ll get this very lovely result. I found that leaving these out, uncovered, made the sugar crunchy while keeping the inside delightfully juicy. Storing them in a covered bowl will soften the sugar some, and it’s not as nice. Over a couple days, the sugar will also start to clump and congeal, creating a weird cranberry-blob monster. So it’s best to roll these the same day you plan to serve them.

sparkling cranberries

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Nuts

This is a tried-and-true recipe I’ve made several times now, and it’s always a hit with a group of friends, or when I’m huddled away in my little work cubicle, storing up nuts for the winter. It’s also extremely easy to make.

nuts in measuring cup

You can use any combination of nuts for this, so long as they are raw. I usually buy raw nuts in bulk, but Trader Joe’s sells them as well, and for a decent price. My personal favorite mixture is cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts. Sometimes I’ll use a few more cashews than almonds, as they seem to be the mildest and absorb flavor the best. And almonds are dry and they catch in my throat. *cough*

toasting nuts

Begin by dry-toasting the nuts in a large pan over a medium flame. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, and stir often. Eventually you will notice brown or black spots begin to appear; this is how you know they’re done.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and maple syrup together, then mix in fresh chopped rosemary and cayenne pepper to taste. Immediately pour this mixture over the toasted nuts, stir well to coat, and spread the nuts over a foil-lined baking sheet for easy cleanup. Sprinkle the nuts with sea or kosher salt and bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Voila – you have it, a great party dish or gift.

spicy sweet roasted nuts

~ Happy Winter Solstice! ~

RECIPE – Sparkling Cranberries

For the simple syrup, raw cane sugar or real brown sugar lends a nice molasses flavor to the cranberries, but regular granulated sugar (or a blend of brown/white) will work.

1 cup cranberries, picked over
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (see head notes)
More sugar for coating: I do a mix of medium-grained organic sugar for the first coating, and then a second toss with regular granulated white sugar. You don’t want a huge grain for that first toss, just something larger than standard sugar, smaller than most turbinado sugars.

Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside. Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the cranberries and toss them with larger grained sugar until they are well coated. I only use a scoop of sugar at a time, and small batches of cranberries, so the sugar doesn’t get too damp. Place the coated cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours.

Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour.

Makes 1 cup of sparkling cranberries.

RECIPE – Spicy Sweet Roasted Nuts

4 cups of raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less depending on your taste
2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large skillet, toast the nuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally so that they don’t burn. In a small saucepan, melt butter and maple syrup together. Once melted, add rosemary and cayenne. When the nuts are toasted (when the vast majority have darkened spots), pour the butter mixture over the nuts and toss to coat.

Spread the glazed nuts out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (makes for far easier cleanup) and roast in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of roast.

When you take the nuts out of the oven, sprinkle the salt over the top, so that it adheres to the still-sticky nuts. I like to use the flaky Maldon sea salt for these nuts, but in a pinch, kosher will also do just fine.

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

7 Dec

Recipe source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ina Garten on tradition: “Every family has traditions–events that they repeat year after year. These traditions give us all a sense of place and community…. Traditions reassure us that we belong together, and for me, that’s so grounding. I love them all.”

One of my family’s traditions at Thanksgiving is that I make dessert. This is mostly because I volunteered, because for a lot of years, dessert was the only kind of food I really liked. As you know from a few posts ago, I made pecan pie for my family and co-workers this year. But I was still left with another Thanksgiving dessert-making opportunity at my monthly cooking group, Gourmet Friends. We have a Thanksgiving-themed get-together every November, and it’s a great chance to test-run the recipes we might be considering for our families.

pumpkin banana mousse tart

This pie is a really nice subtle, elegant twist on classic pumpkin pie, which let’s face it, is a bit pedestrian. My palate is a bit too snobby nowadays for plain ol’ pumpkin pie.

The crust is a basic graham cracker crust, though, to which I can only say, why mess with a good thing? All that’s involved here is graham crackers, butter, sugar, and cinnamon. If you have a food processor, it takes about 5 seconds to break up the crackers, and another two minutes to blend it all together.

pie crust

The filling is a bit more complicated, but not impossible. The most important thing to know about it is to make it in advance. You’ll need to heat half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a double-boiler, then add in egg yolks (being careful to temper them so they don’t scramble), then a mixture of dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest. The orange zest was one of the things that really attracted me to this recipe!

pie filling

After that mixture has cooled, you will fold in a whipped cream mixture, pour it into the baked crust, and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

pouring pie filling

Finally, the last step is to cover the pie with a whipped cream topping and chill again. Ina suggests sprinkling the top with orange zest, which I think is a classy idea.

whipped cream

I don’t have a picture of a cut slice because I was too busy noshing on it… always a difficulty for me when pie or cake is concerned! But inside this looks very similar to a traditional pumpkin pie. Actually – it’s kinda like this picture I’m shamelessly stealing from a Google search:

pie slice

Ina’s recipe doesn’t call for a pecan-caramel topping, but now that I’m looking at it, it doesn’t seem like a bad idea! I guess I’ll just have to make this again… pity…

RECIPE – Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

I wrote this recipe for my entertaining series for California magazine. It was inspired by a pumpkin mousse that my mother had made for years for Thanksgiving. It’s lighter and much more flavorful than that cloying old pumpkin pie. People really do go nuts for it.

Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Decoration
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.

Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

12 Oct

Recipe Source: 100 Best Fresh Salads. Love Food, Parragon Boods Ltd. 2007

Sooo I didn’t quite make it to 5 posts during VegWeek, but I’m still committed to getting there! Here is your recipe #4 of 5.

About a year ago, I developed an aversion to traditional, lettuce-based salads. The thought of them was completely unappealing to me. And while I’ve somewhat gotten over that, I still appreciate a unique salad. This one is definitely different, and complex, just the way I like my recipes! It has a great Mediterranean influence… the lentils give it a hearty feeling and work well with the spinach base. I feel like spinach alone can be a bit dense at times, but it’s so healthy for you, I try to eat it over romaine or other less nutritive greens.

I only changed this recipe slightly, to keep the red onions raw (I detest carmelized or otherwise slimy onions!) and use less of them. I also used walnut oil instead of hazelnut oil, because I couldn’t find hazelnut.

To start, you’ll saute garlic, fresh ginger root, and cumin seeds in oil over a medium flame. This mixture smells like heaven… or at least, what my foodie heaven might smell like. 🙂 I like to keep my dice somewhat large on the garlic and ginger, so they’ll hold their own during a long cooking time with the lentils.

After a few minutes, add in the red lentils and stir to coat with the oil already in the pan, then add vegetable stock a ladle at a time, letting the mixture dry out slightly between ladles.

Ooooh, shiny.

After all the stock has absorbed into the lentils (about 20 minutes), remove from heat and stir in chopped fresh cilantro and mint.

In a large bowl, toss spinach, finely sliced red onion, and walnut oil to taste. In another bowl, mash goat cheese and Greek yogurt together, and season with fresh cracked black pepper. To assemble the salad, top the spinach and onions with the lentil mixture, then add a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on top of that. This recipe could easily be made vegan by omitting the goat cheese, but I think the creaminess makes a really nice complement to the spices in the lentils.

RECIPE – Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil
6 oz. soft goat cheese
4 tablespoons strained plain yogurt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the cumin seeds, garlic, and gingerroot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the lentils, then add the stock, a ladlefull at a time, until it is all absorbed, stirring constantly – this will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

Toss the spinach in the hazelnut oil in a bowl, then divide among 4 serving plates.

Mash the goat cheese with the yogurt in a small bowl and season to taste with pepper.

Divide the lentils among the serving plates and top with the onions and goat cheese mixture.