Sunday, December 14, 2014

Beet, Orange, and Almond Salad

Sometimes I like a vegetable salad on the side, instead of a green salad.  This beet salad is not as dramatic as one with nuts and blue cheese or goat cheese--which I like very much--but I also like the fresh taste of this one.  Nice colors too, though by the second day everything will turn red.

adapted from Simply Light Cooking: 250 Recipes from the Kitchens of Weight Watchers
makes 4 servings

2 small navel oranges
3 cups drained, canned whole beets, cut into largish bite-size pieces (or use freshly roasted beets, below).  If using fresh beets, you'll need about a bunch and a half.
1/4 cup sliced scallions (about three scallions)
2 t. seasoned rice vinegar
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. olive oil
1 ounce slivered almonds, toasted

1.       Toast the almonds. (Or skip—fine with the nuts not toasted.)
2.       Put cut-up beets into a medium-sized bowl.  Add scallions. Peel the oranges and cut sections into the beets.  Squeeze the juice from the rest of the orange into a small bowl. 
3.       Add vinegar and oils to the reserved orange juice and whisk to combine.  Add dressing to beet mixture and toss to coat.
4.       To serve, sprinkle with almonds

Roasting Beets:

Heat oven to 425.  Wash beets and trim off ends, but don't bother to peel them.  Put large piece of foil on a roasting tray or jelly roll pan.  Put beets on top of foil and then pull up foil around beets to make a closed package.  Bake for about an hour, or until beets can be pierced easily with a knife.  Let beets cool a bit and then rub off the skin.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble

For Thanksgiving this year, David requested my mother's Pumpkin-Coconut Chiffon Pie, and I'm fond of the recipe also, so that's what I made.  But I was very intrigued by a recipe for Cranberry Pie posted earlier in November by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen blog.  Happily, I had an occasion the week after Thanksgiving for which I needed to contribute a dessert, which gave me a chance to try out this pie.  It is wonderful!  I like all pies, but do prefer fruit to creamy ones.  This one is on the tart side, but very pleasing.  (It's also quite a bit easier to make than the pumpkin chiffon.)  Said one taster, "I don't usually try new things, but I really like this!"

I've included the recipe for the pie crust, but you can definitely make this pie with a purchased pie crust.  I think the Pillsbury ones are very good, and used them for years, as the few pie crusts that I had tried to make on my own over the years invariably stuck to the counter and ended up not flaky in any case.  I also disliked cleaning up the mess of all the flour on the counter.  Then my friend Louise mentioned how easy the cleanup was with a silicone mat (just bring it to the sink and rinse off), as well as how easy it is to roll out the dough on the mat, without sticking, so I indulged in one.  Definitely a big improvement!  Now I enjoy making my own crusts.  I have this one, and like it very much.  Yes, expensive (even more now than when I purchased it), but I'm glad to have it.

Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble

Yield: 1 standard 9-inch pie (not deep-dish)

Crust (can be made a day or two in advance )
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup very cold water, plus an additional tablespoon if needed

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a wooden spoon until large clumps form. Knead the dough together with your hands, right in the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too dry to stick together, add the additional tablespoon of water.

Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

On a floured counter or silicone mat, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle.  Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp around the edge. Return to fridge until ready to fill.

4-1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 1-1/2 12-ounce bags)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 more tablespoons, if desired, to taste
a few gratings of orange zest (clementine zest also fine)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine all filling ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (No need to defrost frozen cranberries—just cook a couple of extra minutes.)  After about 5 minutes, berries will begin to leak juices. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes more until filling is loose. Transfer filling to a bowl to let it cool slightly for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the crumble topping.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup rolled oats ("old-fashioned," not "quick")
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse or sea salt
3/4 cup pecans, toasted if you have the time

Melt the butter and put it aside to cool.  Toast the pecans.  Grind the oats to a powder in a food processor (close to flour in grain). Add pecans and coarsely grind them with the oats. Add remaining ingredients except the butter, pulsing a few times to combine. Add butter, pulsing until crumbles form. Sprinkle topping over cranberry filling.

Bake pie 
Bake pie for or 45 to 50 minutes, until juices are bubbling enough that come up a bit onto the crumb topping. If pie browns too quickly, cover top with a piece of foil for remaining baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool a bit before serving.

To serve
I served the pie just as is, and it was wonderful.  You could also top it with powdered sugar, sweetened whipped cream with a little vanilla extract added, or vanilla ice cream.