ursula: (Default)
Ginger raspberry fool

Here's a summer dessert I invented. It's a fool, which means custard and berries, though the very oldest fools may just have been custard.

I used the mango parfait recipe at Global Table Adventures for some of the quantities.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp packed fresh grated ginger (or a small knob of peeled ginger)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
About 3 pints mixed berries (I used raspberries from our garden and blueberries from the farmers' market)

Method:

Whisk the ginger, eggs, and milk with 1 cup cream and 1/3 cup sugar. (I used homemade vanilla sugar, with beans from saffron.com.)

Heat the mixture in a small pot over a low flame. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the pot each time. Don't let the mixture boil! After a while, the custard will begin to thicken. Keep stirring, and don't let the bottom curdle. When the custard is thick but still pourable, pour it into a bowl and chill it. (If you're worried about curdling, strain through a sieve before chilling.)

Rinse the berries and toss them with about a tablespoon of sugar.

As the ginger custard chills, it will thicken. When the custard is chilled, or your impatience triumphs, whip the remaining cream to stiff peaks with the remaining spoonful of sugar and the vanilla. Fold the ginger custard into the whipped cream until they are mixed. Layer the berries and the ginger cream in a serving dish (use a glass trifle dish if you've got one!) Chill again, or serve immediately.
ursula: (Default)
This post is part of the Cooking For People Who Don't: Food Security blog carnival.

Here are some of my standard strategies for cooking beets, cabbage, and squash. All three tend to be cheap and plentiful in the winter months. As [livejournal.com profile] carpenter notes, cabbages and squashes can also be huge, especially if you're only cooking for one or two people. Fortunately, they store well, so you can cut a squash or cabbage in half or quarters and use the rest later. (If you're the sort of person who likes to prepare lots of staples at once and then store them, you could also roast cubes of squash and freeze them for later.)

This post involves general notes on dealing with all three vegetables, and two specific recipes for beets (one with squash variation).

biases and substitutions )

shopping and preparation )
Two Beet Recipes

Beets are good with white, salty cheese. Both of the following recipes follow this principle, but you can obey it more simply by cleaning your beets and cutting them into chunks, putting them in a pan, drizzling olive oil on top, tossing it around with your hands or a spoon, adding salt, pepper, and perhaps some peeled cloves of garlic, and sticking the whole thing in the oven at 400 degrees or so, until the chunks are no longer crunchy. Eat with the white cheese of your choice (I recommend goat cheese, and maybe some walnuts).

Greek-Style Beets )

Roasted Beet Soup )
ursula: (bear)
I made feta pies today, based on a recipe from Ibn Razîn's thirteenth-century Andalusian recipe collection, in Lilia Zaouali, trans. M.B. DeBevoise, Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World. The overall effect is of crackers with a very sophisticated cheese dip.

Recipe:

Another Mujabbana

Crumble the cheese as finely as you can and mix it with eggs, then with mint water and coriander [cilantro] water, and finally with whatever common spices are at hand. Spread [the mixture] over a thin layer of dough and cover with another layer. Cook in the oven. Learn to do this, in accordance with the will of God!

Dough:

I used the dough recipe for Lebanese Spinach Triangles in Anissa Helou's book Savory Baking from the Mediterranean, because one of the other Mujabbana recipes mentions a dough of flour, water, oil, and salt, like this dough. You can find Helou's recipe in metric units here; in American units, it's 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1/2 cup warm water. The dough is soft and easy to work with.

Filling:

8 oz. feta
1 egg
2-3 tbsp. mint and/or cilantro water (I soaked a handful of finely chopped mint in warm water)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
ground pepper

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Divide the dough into eight balls (for larger pies) or sixteen balls (for individual pies). Roll out a ball into a translucent disk; place it on a baking sheet. (I buttered my baking sheets lightly, but I'm not sure I needed to.) Spread 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling across the disk of dough, leaving half an inch or so of plain dough at the edge. Roll out another ball and lay it on top. Crimp the edges together. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Bake until puffed and golden brown (about twenty minutes?)
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This afternoon I made Election Cake, based on the 1796 Amelia Simmons recipe:

    Thirty quarts flour, 10 pound butter, 14 pound sugar, 12 pound raisins, 3 doz eggs, one pint wine, one quart brandy, 4 ounces cinnamon, 4 ounces fine colander [sic] seed, 3 ounces ground allspice; wet the flour with milk to the consistence of bread overnight, adding one quart yeast; the next morning work the butter and sugar together for half an hour, which will render the cake much lighter and whiter; when it has rise light work in every other ingredient except the plumbs, which work in when going into the oven.


My version (sized for a party, not an entire election) is as follows:

    Dissolve 4 1/2 tsp. yeast in 6 tbsp. warm water. Add 2 cups milk, then slowly mix/knead in 6 cups of flour. Knead the resulting dough for about ten minutes. Set aside to rise for an hour (presumably 30 quarts of flour would need more time.) Cream 2 sticks of butter (half a pound) with 1 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix in an egg, 4 3/4 tsp. red wine, 3 tbsp. + 1/2 tsp. brandy, a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground coriander, and about three-quarters of a teaspoon of allspice, along with a pinch of salt. Combine the butter mixture with the dough mixture, then stir in about 9 ounces of raisins. (Hard work! I used the dough hooks on my hand mixer.) Divide batter between 2 buttered loaf pans. Set aside to rest for forty-five minutes, then bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. (I used a 375-degree oven, and it took about an hour and a half, ending with a very dark crust-- a cooler oven might be better.)


The result is not unlike a superior bakery scone: sweet for a breakfast but plain for a dessert, and inclined to break into large crumbs.
ursula: (Default)
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, pay some attention to the seasons, and don't have your own garden, there's a point in the winter when you're reduced to Washington-sticker apples. This is a vegetarian version of a recipe from New Food of Life, a Persian cookbook. It has the advantage that it's much faster than the original, meat version.

Vegetarian Apple Khoresh
(Sweet-and-sour apple stew)

Peel and thinly slice two large onions. Brown in some oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add a cup of lentils, stir, then add a tablespoon of tomato paste (optional; I've used spiced carrot paste & nothing, but ketchup might work too), three tablespoons of sugar, three of good vinegar, and half a teaspoon of ground saffron dissolved in a bit of warm water. (Yes, I said half a teaspoon of saffron. This is a Persian recipe!) Cover with a couple of cups of water, and simmer until the lentils are done and most of the water is gone, adding more water as necessary.

Meanwhile, core and peel about five apples, cut them into wedges, and saute them in more oil until they turn a nice golden brown or you die of boredom.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the apples on top of the lentils in a casserole or cast-iron pan, and bake until you want to eat it. (This step is satisfying, but I think more relevant in the non-vegetarian version.)

This is good with basmati rice and with plain yogurt that has had the whey drained out of it and plain water (and garlic?) stirred in. You can make the lazy man's saffron rice by dissolving more saffron in water and splashing it over the top of your rice.
ursula: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] glasseye's birthday is on Monday, so tonight I made baklava, fusing the recipes from five different cookbooks (Lebanese, Persian, Armenian, Madhur Jaffrey's Worlds of the East, and the Joy of Cooking.) [livejournal.com profile] ryunohi calls it The Great Honey Versus Sugar Syrup question. It looks to me as if this is a question of ethnicity, not just personal taste: I don't have a Greek cookbook, but I theorize that are two basic styles of baklava, a Greek version with walnuts, honey, and cinnamon, and a Persian style with almonds, pistachios, sugar syrup, cardamom, and a huge amount of rosewater, and everyone else interpolates between. The Illuminated Table, The Prosperous House suggests that in sixteenth-century Turkey, sugar was for the rich and honey for the poor, and perhaps the Persian style retains that theory of sugar as luxury? Or maybe they just don't want to drown out the rosewater. I went for an intermediate style: some honey (I would have used more, for [livejournal.com profile] glasseye's sake, but we ran out), almonds & walnuts mixed, cinnamon and cardamom together, and only a tablespoon of rosewater in the filling, as opposed to a half-cup in the syrup.

***

Yesterday I bought, and finished, the new Lois Bujold book. It would have been more satisfying if I hadn't just re-read Curse of Chalion. The romances are very similar: a wearied soldier of advanced years falls in love with a lively but practical girl of under twenty, and though one wearied soldier is thirty-five and the other fifty-five, their genetics and general level of wear make their apparent ages identical. And I was thrown once or twice by identical wordings: " '____,' he breathed" at moments of intense realization. (Does Miles Vorkosigan breathe monosyllables, too? I think he does.) I imagined the beginnings of Part III: a wearied female soldier of advanced years (almost forty!) falls in love with a lively but practical man of twenty-something, a noncombatant, possibly a potter, and angsts about the impossible age difference (when women are older, they can angst quite successfully with less than ten years' difference), until " 'Yes . . .' she breathed" and so on, and so forth.

The interesting bit to me, though, was the flora: I've wondered before what would happen if fantasy novels took a different landscape for their default-- New World, say, as opposed to vaguely-England-- and this landscape was decidedly American. It's sort of high-fantasy Pioneer, in fact, with farmers and coppery-skinned land-sensing Lakewalkers, and corn and poison ivy and racoons. In context, this may well be post-magical-apocalypse Midwest, rather than high fantasy on another world. I looked for puns in the placenames, à la Sheri Tepper, but if there were any they were too subtle for my coastal eye, and in general attitude this story feels like high fantasy, rather than the heavy-handedness of "What man has done once, he need not destroy the earth to do again" (a particularly unsubstantiated maxim, I always thought: cf. Roman Empire).
ursula: (ambigram)
This morning I wandered around U. Village, the trendy outdoor shopping mall down the hill from me. I bought a pair of shoes that I've been yearning after for a while, since they're the summery version of the little red shoes I'm very fond of. It's still strange to me that I'm grown-up enough to want more than summer sandals and winter boots-- and grown-up enough to pay for them! Such luxury! But the real purpose of the expedition was to pick up a plate I made for [livejournal.com profile] glasseye from one of those places where you paint your own dishes. I painted his device, a green shield with an ermine chief and a white sun. The shield came out a lovely glossy green, but I'm most proud of the stylized leaves round the border.

I was at Paint the Town a week ago, for a birthday party for my officemate, S. I don't think I've talked about S much here, but I've definitely enjoyed sharing an office with her and I'm very sad that she's leaving. She'll be moving to Michigan in just over a week! S is sweet and kind and friendly and has any number of talents, including the harp and yoga and drawing. I wish I had gotten to know her when she first came to this city, two years ago, instead of waiting until we did share an office. It's so sad to realize friendships too slowly.

S's birthday was just the start of a busy weekend. Saturday morning I walked to the farmer's market, and bought whole-wheat bread, spinach, chard, fresh garlic, and feta cheese. I spent a quiet afternoon, but in the evening J&L arrived, bearing riches from China! They gave us a gorgeous little teapot shaped like an eggplant with a miniature eggplant for a lid. [livejournal.com profile] glasseye and I and J&L stayed up late into the night, sharing -- variously -- beer, Scotch, and ginger-lemon tea, and talking about China, Philadelphia, and old times together. The next day we all went to Folklife, along with J's mother, aunt, and grandmother. We all wandered around together, so I didn't get to dance. :( But we did hear all sorts of music, in particular Spoonshine, bluegrass with string bass! And I spent a long time looking longingly at silk coats, made by a local artist from Indian sari materials. Wonderful thick material with a twirly skirt -- but the best pattern, with little swirling rosebuds, was on a coat one size too small, and I wanted to be absolutely in love before I bought one. (The booth was called Silk Dragons. I got a card, but she doesn't have a website.) I celebrated Memorial-eve by making elaborate pizzas, two with leeks, mushrooms, and white wine, and two with spinach, olives, and the feta I bought earlier in the weekend. Yum.

That brings me back to tonight's culinary adventure, which was Persian rice with barberries. Barberries are incredibly sour, like the dried-fruit version of Sour Patch Kids. I love sour food, but two cups were a little much! And I forgot part of the tah dig step, so no crunchy buttery bottom layer to my rice. But it was one of the most beautiful dishes I've seen in a long time, all white and red and yellow (the recipe asked for a teaspoon of ground saffron), and small amounts with yoghurt and garlic were wonderful.

[Same game.]

November 2016

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