Friday, November 25, 2016

Pumpkin-Pecan Pie



I don't much like plain pumpkin pie.  The pumpkin chiffon pie my mother used to make for Thanksgiving is the supreme dessert for the holiday, but it is a great deal of work.  I love pecan pie, but it's awfully heavy.  So I tried this recipe, which has a layer of pumpkin pie on the bottom and pecan pie on the top.  Very nice!


I found the recipe in my dessert file, clipped from an unidentified publication.  Searching the web, I found the same recipe by David Bonom here.  (But if you use the online recipe, note a significant typo in the pie crust recipe.  It should be 7 tablespoons of butter, not 7 teaspoons.)

PUMPKIN-PECAN PIE
serves 10

You need to start making the pie six hours before serving, as the pie dough needs to chill, the pie takes an hour to cook, and then the whole pie needs to cool and then chill for 4 hours.  Start with the pie crust, and then make the fillings while the pie crust chills.  You could certainly use a purchased pie crust for this instead (I like the Pillsbury refrigerated crusts), if you'd like to save some steps, though this one came together easily. 

Cornmeal Butter Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
7 T. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 T. ice water (or a little more, as needed; I used 6 or 7 T.)

In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt.  Add butter and pulse until incorporated (large granules).  Add water, 1 T. at a time, while pulsing, until ball forms (or until you can easily press the dough into a ball).  Remove and wrap with plastic wrap.  Chill at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. (I use a large silicone mat--really makes this easier.) Use a lightly floured rolling pin and roll into a 14" diameter round. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim excess dough, leaving enough to turn under and crimp around the edges of the pan.  Chill at least 15 minutes.

Pumpkin filling
1-1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 T. half and half
2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt

Pecan filling
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
1-1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the pumpkin filling:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well until combined.

Prepare the pecan filling:  In another bowl, combine all the ingredients except the pecans; whisk well.  Then stir in the pecans.

Pour the pumpkin filling into the chilled pie crust.  Gently spoon pecan filling over the pumpkin filling.  Place on a baking sheet and bake 65 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 1 hour.  Then put in the refrigerator and let chill 3 hours before serving.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Jade Green Summer Soup

I made this soup yesterday, the first course for a dinner cooked collectively.  It was in the 70s here, and I figured it was likely the last time to enjoy a cold soup, and found the recipe for this one when cleaning out my recipe files earlier in the week.  Unusually for me, I didn't note the source; it's copied from a book, but I had no idea which one.  Google to the rescue!  It's from Robert Wolke, What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained. I think this was a book I checked out of the library one summer, when the summer reading challenge included a category for "science."  This recipe is in a chapter on microwaves, explaining their impact on food.  The recipe is written for the microwave, but gives alternative instructions for stove-top cooking, which is what I did.

Today for lunch, I heated the soup up; it is excellent either hot or cold.  Next time I make it, I may add a couple of potatoes to the mix, to make it more of a main dish soup.  Note that there's no milk in this soup, unlike many chilled summer vegetable soups.  It was nice to have a soup like this with just the broth base.

JADE GREEN SUMMER SOUP
adapted from Robert Wolke, What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained
serves 6-8

5 cups chicken broth 
2 cups fresh green beans, chopped into about 1" pieces
2 cups chopped romain lettuce
2 cups zucchini, chopped into about 1/2" pieces
2 cups frozen peas
2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions, both white and green parts 
1/4 cup chopped parsley (and more for garnish)
salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped fresh herbs for garnish (I used parsley and chives)

Into a soup pot, put the chicken broth and all the vegetables: green beans, romaine, zucchini, peas, celery, scallions, and parsley.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add salt and pepper as desired.  Blend to the point of a textured purée (that is, not entirely smooth); I use a stick blender.  Chill thoroughly before serving.

Garnish each serving with chopped fresh herbs.  I used both parsley and chives.  Next time, I think I'd use just chives--would be prettier, and there is already parsley in the soup.  Mint might be nice, too.

The recipe suggested an optional addition at serving time of a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of sour cream, but I liked it very much without either of these.  Why not keep it simple and low-cal?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nicoise Salad

Not often enough, I put together a Salade Niçoise, and always wonder why I don't do it more often, because it is so simple, elegant, and delicious.  We recently had this when a friend came over for dinner, and her delight in it leads me to share the recipe here.  The original recipe includes instructions for a vinaigrette dressing, so if you want to make that also, click on the link below.  I just serve it with oil and vinegar.  It does take some time to prepare each of the ingredients, but you can do any or all of it ahead of time, which helps.  Served with a crusty bread, this is a full meal.

NICOISE SALAD
adapted from Simply Recipes
serves 6
  • grilled tuna or salmon, about 16 oz; canned tuna or salmon is also fine
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • 12 small red potatoes (about 2" in diameter, about 1-1/2 lbs. total), boiled until just tender, cooled under cold water, and then cut in quarters
  • Boston or butter lettuce, enough for 6 people, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths (or a comparable amount of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin into crescents
  • 8 ounces green beans, steamed until just tender (I use the steam-in-bag type)
  • olives (kalamata if you don't have nicoise)
  • 2 cans of anchovies
  • fresh pepper
  • capers
  • olive oil
  • vinegar (I use balsamic)
Once all the ingredients are prepped, you can either put everything on a large serving platter, or you can make up individual plates.  Lettuce goes on the bottom, and than place each of the ingredients through the anchovies on top of the lettuce, each in its own pile.  Sprinkle on some fresh pepper and some capers, and then drizzle on olive oil and vinegar, as desired.

If you don't use up all the ingredients at one sitting, they will all be fine the next day as well, straight from the refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Low-fat Vanilla Cream

With berries in full season, I was reminded of this simple recipe, adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  It's a great substitute for whipped cream or crème fraiche.  The original recipe suggests low-fat cottage cheese and yogurt, but I use non-fat and it's still delicious.

LOW-FAT VANILLA CREAM
makes about 1 cup, serves 5-6

1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
2 T + 1 t. pure maple syrup
1/4 t. vanilla extract


Blend all ingredients together.  (An immersion blender works well.)  Chill and serve.  Keeps for about 3 days in the refrigerator.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tuna Burgers with Ginger and Cilantro

When I have high quality tuna, I usually do a very simple recipe--why mess with the beautiful taste.  But I've been holding in the freezer some tuna I got from a Portland, OR supplier via Sitka Salmon Shares.  The portions came very thick and oddly shaped, a challenge to sear in a pan or broil.  I had time for some leisurely preparation yesterday, so I decided to make tuna burgers, and found this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine in my file.  It's also available on the web, so go here for enticing photos, and links to some complementary recipes (rice noodle salad and melons with ginger syrup) that also look great.  I've adapted the recipe a bit, below.  And you definitely want to serve it with the dipping sauce.  No buns--would detract from the delectable taste and add pointless calories. Note that the burgers need to chill for at least 20 minutes after you shape them, and that the sauce should stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.  So--a good meal to make ahead; just sauté the burgers right before serving.

FRESH TUNA BURGERS WITH GINGER AND CILANTRO
serves 4

1 lb. fresh tuna fillet
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. chopped red onion (or scallion)
2 T. lite mayonnaise
1-1/2 t. minced fresh ginger
1/2 t. Sriracha sauce (or minced fresh hot red or green chile peppers)
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

1-2 T. canola oil (for sautéing the burgers)

Cut the tuna into 1" chunks and, in two batches, pulse 3-4 times in the food processor--until just chopped.  (Or, you can cut the tuna into a 1/4" dice.)

Gently stir in the cilantro, onion, mayonnaise, ginger, Sriracha, and black pepper. Shape into four thick patties--recipe said 1", though mine were less.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours--or longer.  I made four patties, cooked two last night, and then left the other two in the fridge so that I could cook them fresh this evening.  Still just fine!

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  (Cook on the stove rather than broiling or grilling--gives greater control over the heat, easier to keep the center medium-rare.)  Cook the burgers until nicely browned on both sides (flipping half-way through), but still pink in the center, 2-4 minutes total.  Serve with Thai-style dipping sauce.

THAI-STYLE DIPPING SAUCE

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 rounded T. sugar (original recipe called for 2-1/2 T; less was fine)
2 T. fish sauce
1-1/2 t. rice vinegar
2 t. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 t. minced garlic (I used jarred)
1/2 t. Sriracha sauce (or minced fresh hot red or green chile peppers)

Combine all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Let stand at least 30 minutes before serving so that the flavors can develop and blend.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Indian Keema with Peas, with a full menu

We had guests to dinner last weekend, and needed a menu where most everything could be done ahead of time.  This worked out really well!  We started with home-made baked tortilla chips, guacamole, and store-bought hummus.  (The generic brand at Hy-Vee is good enough that I don't bother to make it from scratch anymore.)  The main course was Indian Keema with Peas, served over brown rice (I highly recommend short-grain brown rice--tastier than long-grain), with a side dish of a cucumber and fennel in yogurt.  Dessert was fruit dipped in chocolate and hazelnuts.  It was a nice combination of tastes and textures.  Here are the three recipes not linked above:

Indian Keema with Peas
adapted from Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet (Times Books, 1980)
4 servings

1 t. minced garlic
1 T. chopped fresh ginger
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 t. vegetable oil
1 T. curry powder
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground turmeric
1/4 t. ground coriander seeds
1/4 t. ground cumin
1 lb. ground lamb (beef could also be used)
1 c. chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 T. lime juice
1 t. sugar
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 t. crushed hot red pepper flakes
1 c. peas, defrosted if using frozen

Approximate how much garlic, ginger and onion will yield the given amounts.  Using the food processor, first mince the garlic, add in the ginger, and then the onions.  Add the oil and blend to a fine purée.

Sauté the mixture in a skillet and cook, stirring often, until the mixture almost starts to brown.  Add the curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander and cumin and stir to blend.

Add the meat and cook, breaking up any lumps.  When the meat is no longer pink, pour off any accumulated oil, then add the tomatoes, lime juice and sugar.  Add a generous grinding of pepper and the hot red pepper.  Cover closely and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the peas and continue cooking until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes.

Serve with rice, brown or white.  


CUCUMBERS AND FENNEL WITH YOGURT
adapted from Craig Claiborne's Gourmet Diet
5 servings

1 large cucumber, about 1-1/2 lbs.
1/2 small fennel bulb
2 cups plain yogurt (I use non-fat)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion or scallions
1 t. finely chopped garlic
2 T. white vinegar
1-1/2 T. sugar
1 T. olive oil
2 T. finely chopped fresh dill (or 1-1/2 t. dried)

Peel the cucumbers, cut them in half length-wise, and scrape out the seeds.
Cut the cucumbers until thin, half-moon slices--about 4 cups.
Trim the fennel bulb and cut it in half.  Cut one half crosswise into thin slices--about 1 cup. 
Combine the sliced cucumbers and fennel with the rest of the ingredients, blending well.  Chill for an hour or longer.


CHOCOLATE-HAZELNUT DIPPED FRUIT
adapted from a loose recipe, source unknown
serves 4

4 ounces semisweet chocolate (bar or chips)
4 cups whole strawberries, with stems, washed and patted dry
16 dried apricots
2 ounces hazelnuts, finely chopped (other nuts would be fine also)

Set out a cookie sheet with a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Chop the chocolate in large pieces (if using a bar) and heat until melted.  (I do this in a microwave.)  Set the bowl with melted chocolate in a pan of just-boiled water, so that it doesn't harden while working.

Pick up one piece of fruit at a time and dip it into the melted chocolate, coating about half of each piece of fruit.  Then immediately dip the tip in the chopped hazelnuts.  Place the dipped fruit on the waxed paper, and continue with the rest of the fruit.

Let the dipped fruit stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, to let the chocolate harden.  This can be done a couple of hours ahead of time.  If the kitchen is warm, I bring the tray into the basement to keep it cool.


I haven't tried this with other fruit, but it could be nice--maybe pineapple, clementines, or cherries.