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Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

cranberries-cooking_pb239355ranberry-chutney-pb239361

The winter holidays always mean cranberries to me – cranberry relish or chutney alongside the bird (whether turkey or something more exotic) is at the top of my list. My mom always served Cranberry Ice as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving turkey so I’ve given you a bonus recipe here for it just because it is not a recipe I’ve seen much and I thought you might like it. Cranberry Ice never appeared any other time of the year – a reasonable guess would be because you couldn’t get cranberries at any other time in those days. As a child, the most amazing thing was that she served it at the middle of the meal in her mother’s coupe glasses. Only when I was very much an adult did I learn that this course is called an intermezzo, a term I’m sure my mom had never heard nor did she know the culinary etiquette that covered it. Just in case you’ve never heard the term it simply translates to a palate cleanser between courses – often a refreshing, not-at-all- sweet, sorbet. It is rarely served anymore, even in the fanciest of fancy restaurants.   How she came to do this I, regretfully, never asked. (As for the coupes they were slightly iridescent; the luminescent colors fascinated me, but not enough as an adult to keep the glasses after my mom passed away. Of course, this is a decision I now rue.)   The ice is refreshingly delicious and works just as well as a dessert, particularly with a bit of dark chocolate on the side. My mom’s recipe calls for 1 bag of cranberries which, I bet, in her day weighed 1 pound. However, the current 12 ounce weight seems to work just fine. Since you can now buy pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, you can probably use that also.

Makes about 3 pounds

1 large tart green apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

6 cups chopped fresh cranberries

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup dried currants

½ cup chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped preserved lemon, skin only

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1½ tablespoons minced garlic

2 cups light brown sugar

¾ cup dry red wine or any fruit juice you prefer (each one will add a different flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon mustard seed

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Combine the apple, cranberries, onion, currants, celery, preserved lemon, ginger, and garlic in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar. When blended, add the wine, cinnamon, mustard seed, cloves, cardamom, and cayenne, stirring to blend well. Bring to a boil; then, immediately lower the heat and cook at a very gentle simmer for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and is very flavorful.

Remove from the heat and pack into sterilized jars and tightly cover, if canning, or into nonreactive containers with lids for refrigerating. If canning, place the sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from the bath and set on wire racks to cool before storing. If refrigerated, set on wire racks to cool before transferring to the refrigerator. Canned, the chutney will last for a year; refrigerated for 6 weeks.

Cranberry Ice

Makes about 1 quart

1 package fresh cranberries

3 to 4 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want the ice to be

Juice of 6 lemons, strained

 

Place the cranberries in a large saucepan with cold water to cover over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until all of the cranberries have popped and are soft.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a large, heatproof mixing bowl, pressing lightly on the pulp. You do not want to push any seeds through; the liquid should be clear. Discard the solids.

Add the sugar to the hot juice, stirring until dissolved. Add the strained lemon juice (the straining is important as you want the juice to be completely clear). Measure the juice and add enough water to make 1 gallon of liquid.

Pour the liquid into shallow 1 quart containers or into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Freeze for about 2 hours or until almost completely frozen.

Remove from the freezer and place in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle (or a food processor fitted with the metal blade). Chop into chunks to facilitate beating. Beat or process until the consistency of sherbet.

Use immediately or return to the freezer for no more than an hour or it will get too hard to serve easily. If it does get too hard, beat or process again. You can also freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker following manufacturer’s directions for freezing sorbets.

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Clara_Thankful

 

This is the day when we should all take the time to remember the blessings in our lives.  I know that many people begin their Thanksgiving dinners by asking everyone around the table to express their gratitude for the goodness in their lives – a wonderful way to acknowledge what we often forget.  I love Thanksgiving not only for the warmth and hearty meal that it brings but because it is not specific to any religion so it can be embraced by people of all faiths, races, and ethnic backgrounds.  This year with so much conflict in the world and so much divisiveness in the United States it is more important than ever that we take the time to convey our thanks for any evidence of goodness that we see in the world.  Gratitude uplifts our thoughts, encourages a new outlook, enables friendships to grow, and enriches our lives in ways we don’t expect.  It is about kindness – it is an unselfish act of grace that we should all be willing to share.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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Fudge_DSC_4505

 

When I was in my full-blown homemade Christmas celebration years, I would make lots and lots of candy. The candy was always a hit simply because most people had never tasted homemade. Some of it came from my childhood – my mom’s favorites were popcorn balls, bourbon balls, and divinity. Of her favorites, I only liked popcorn balls which I often used as tree decorations. Divinity was too sweet – even for me – and I have never liked any sweet that is flavored with alcohol. And most of the others were recipes I had gathered from old cookbooks or good home cooks. Peanut brittle and chocolate fudge were on my top-of list. Of all of these goodies, chocolate fudge is the only one that I continue to make every Christmas. It is easy to make, the recipes yields quite a bit (the amount depends upon how small you cut the squares) and is always a welcome holiday gift.

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (bits or a block chopped into small pieces, use the

highest percentage you can find to help cut the sweetness of all of the sugar)

2 cups toasted walnuts or pecans, optional

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

20 large marshmallows

4 cups sugar

Two 5-ounce cans evaporated milk

Lightly butter a 6 cup baking pan (square or rectangular) or a platter. Set aside.

Combine the chocolate with the nuts, if using, butter, and vanilla in a large heat-proof mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine the marshmallows and sugar in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the evaporated milk and place over medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continuing to stir, boil for exactly 6 minutes.

Immediately remove from the heat and, beating constantly with a wooden spoon, pour the hot mixture into the chocolate mix. Beat vigorously for a few minutes or until the fudge is creamy. Quickly scrape the fudge into the prepared pan or platter, pushing slightly with the back of the spoon (or a spatula) to spread the fudge evenly.

Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the candy into small squares. Store, in layers separated by waxed paper, for up to one week or, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving

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Griddle Scones_DSC_7141

 

This recipe comes from An American Family Cooks, my family cookbook which is published by Rizzoli. I will, from time to time, share recipes from the book. If you enjoy them and would like more, the book can be ordered from your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

This is my oldest family recipe. Unfortunately I did not know my mom’s mother who brought the recipe with her from Scotland where it had been taught to her by her Aunt Ann. The recipe card still reads “Gram’s Aunt Ann.” These scones would not be recognizable as such in modern bakeries that bake giant, fluffy fruit-filled mounds called scones. Most scones today have absolutely no relation to these flat, griddled gems which are somewhere between pancakes and biscuits. In fact, the recipe card says “Have griddle same heat as for pancakes and fry on a dry griddle.” They should be eaten hot off the griddle with sweet butter and homemade jam.

 

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 scant teaspoon baking soda

Sugar to taste

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons butter

Enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, usually about 1 cup

 

Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt – I use about 2 tablespoons sugar and no more than ¼ teaspoon salt. Cut in the butter using your fingertips.

Slowly add the buttermilk, beating with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Lightly flour a clean work surface.

Scrape the dough onto the work surface and divide it in half. Pat each half into a fairly neat circle about ¼-inch thick and then cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Heat the griddle over low heat until very hot.

When hot, add the scones, a few at a time, and cook for 3 minutes to just set. Then, increase the heat slightly and cook for another 4 minutes or until the dough begins to puff up a bit and the underside has begun to color. Using a spatula, turn and cook for an additional 6 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Watch carefully, adjusting the heat as necessary, to keep the scones from burning.

Remove from the heat and serve hot with butter and jam.

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Gooseberry

There is no country like Great Britain when it comes to naming what I call (and they do too) nursery desserts – syllabub, spotted dick, whim-wham, roly-poly, fool, and apple dappy are just a few of the sweet desserts the English call puddings. Fools are one of my favorites simply because they are so easy to do, particularly in the summer when berries and fruits are at their peak. I don’t know where the name “fool” comes from, but perhaps because a cook would be a fool not to embrace this easy to do dish which in its basic make-up is just fruit and whipped cream, although there are ways to fancy it up. I tend to lighten it a bit with a combination of yogurt and whipped cream. Gooseberries are the traditional berry used, but they are rarely available except for a couple of weeks in the summer at farmers markets, so feel free to use any berry or fruit you like.

In this recipe, I just sprinkle the top with crushed cookies, but if you want to turn it into a dinner party dessert, layer the fool between layers of crushed cookies in individual glass bowls or even martini glasses, ending with a layer of fool. You can also save a few gooseberries to use as garnish along with that proverbial mint leaf.

 

1 pound fresh gooseberries, topped and tailed

3 tablespoons granulated sugar or to taste

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Confectioners’ sugar or to taste

¼ cup crushed cookies of your choice

 

Combine the gooseberries with ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until very soft.

Remove from the heat and pour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the granulated sugar and process to a smooth puree. If you hate seeds, press the puree through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container and set aside to cool. If you don’t mind seeds, transfer the puree to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Place the heavy cream in a medium mixing bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat for a minute or so to lighten. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Fold the yogurt into the whipped cream.

Scrape the whipped cream mixture into a serving bowl. Gently fold in the cooled gooseberry puree. Taste and, if necessary, sweeten with confectioners’ sugar.

Sprinkle the top with crushed ladyfingers, amaretti cookies, vanilla wafers, or butter cookies and serve immediately.

If not serving immediately, do not sprinkle the top with the cookies until ready to serve. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

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PIE©StephenKolyer

 

I have been writing cookbooks for 45 years and I rarely hear from anyone who has cooked from any one of the many, many books I have written, co-authored, or ghosted.  However, the other day I got the following note posted on Facebook from a very nice lady named Elaine Grahame-Dunn.  I wanted to share it as just simple graciousness doesn’t come my way very often.  The book about which she is commenting was published in 1992 in the States and in England and Australia somewhat later.  How nice that it is still being used.

 

June 16th, 6:19am

Just wanted to say how much I use your wonderful book ‘The Great American Pie Book’. I am a British woman living near Seville in Spain and own a bed and breakfast establishment. It is a great book to go to for inspiration when I feel a little jaded with my menu choices. Thank you. It isn’t said enough in this World nowadays. X

 

And after my response to her I received the following:

Just wanted to make contact and I think it’s important to let people know when they do a good job. Some recipe books are nice you look at but not practical. Few and far between are those that make life easier as a cook! Thanks again for a job well done. You are welcome here any time. X

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Krumville

 

I happened on the Facebook page of my young friend Antonella who was doing a pop-up for her gluten-free bakery, Krumville Bake Shop (www.krumvillebakeshop.com), at a Soho (a trendy Manhattan neighborhood) store. For the occasion, Anto had done a trial strawberry cake which she had featured on her page. It was so invitingly beautiful that I jokingly posted “can you bring me a slice?” And, sure enough at the end of the day our doorbell rang and there was Antonella cake slice in hand. I will tell you that the cake was even more delicious than it looked….and absolutely impossible to identify as being “gluten-free.” She ships all over so should you need or know someone who needs spectacular gluten-free treats, Krumville is the go-to bakery. And, even if you aren’t gluten-free, I still recommend Antonella’s products – they are all delicious.

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