Monday, January 24, 2011

Citrus Season: Three Recipes to Cherish It

When I was little and living with my family in Toledo, Ohio, my mother would tell me about her delight in receiving an orange for Christmas when she was a little girl living in Toledo, Ohio. Oranges came from very very far away: Florida or California. They were both rare and expensive.  As a special treat for our holidays, she would carefully cut up an orange or two into what she called "rocky boats" and we would suck them to extract every last bit of juice and flesh. I still find it totally amazing to live in a place where oranges and lemons grow on trees right outside my window. And I cherish them now every bit as much as she did then.

Orange and Black Currant Scones
These scones have lots of flavor and interest without being overly sweet.

2 cups flour
1½ tablespoons sugar plus sugar for sprinkling
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, diced
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 egg
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup dried black currants

1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. With a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the butter and orange zest until the mixture resembles coarse meal. You an also do this step in a food processor.
2. Whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a small measuring pitcher or bowl. Pour over the dry ingredients and sprinkle on the currants. Stir just until the ingredients come together and form a soft ball. Do not over mix. Tip out the dough onto a floured board.
3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, patting them into rounds with floured hands. Place them 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
5. Sprinkle each scone with about ¼ teaspoon sugar, either regular or coarse.
6. Bake the chilled scones until lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or warm. They are best eaten the same day they are made.

Makes 8
Adapted from Judy Wicks and Kevin Von Klause’s White Dog Café Cookbook

Lemon Love Notes
There are many different recipes for what is traditionally in the South called Lemon Squares. What I like best about this recipe is its name. Isn’t that just wonderful? In addition, they are just lusciously delicious.

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor, with a mixer or with your hands.
2. Pat into a well-greased 9x9 or 9x11 pan (for a thinner crust). Bake 15 minutes in 350ºF oven until the crust is a light brown. Cool slightly.

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Zest from 2 lemons
Juice from 2 lemons
Confectioners’ sugar to dust

1. If you’ve used a food processor to make the crust, don’t bother to wash it before you do this next step. Process or beat eggs until light; beat in sugar, adding slowly. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour into the pan.
2. Bake in 350ºF oven for 25 minutes or until the topping is set.
3. When cool, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. If your confectioners’ sugar is lumpy, put a small amount in a sieve and sprinkle it over the squares, squashing the lumps through the sieve with your fingers. Cut into squares with a wet knife.

Makes 16-20 squares in a 9x9 pan.
Adapted from Of Pots and Pipkins: Recipes from the Junior League of Roanoke Valley, Virginia

Royal Grapefruit Sorbet

3 large pink grapefruits
3 tablespoons honey (in liquid form)
Black pepper, if desired

1. Remove and discard peels from the grapefruits. See instructions below. Place in a single layer on a microwave-proof dish or a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze for three hours or overnight until solid.
2. Microwave on defrost for 1 minute if you used the microwaveable dish. The sections should be just slightly thawed. If you used a cookie sheet, transfer a single layer of the frozen segments to a plate and defrost for 1 minute; you may need to do 2 batches.
3. If your sections are big, break them up into smaller pieces. Place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the honey and process until smooth. You may have to do this process in batches depending on the size of your machine. Place sorbet in a container and return to the freezer for a few hours or until serving time.
4. Scoop into bowls or serve on top of fresh fruit salad. For a spicy note, sprinkle with ground black pepper, if desired.
Note: If sorbet becomes too hard to scoop, microwave on defrost for one minute. It will keep in freezer for two weeks.

5-6 servings (about 3 cups)
Adapted from brochure from Harry and David’s Fruit of the Month Club Brochure

Sectioning Citrus

1. Cut off both ends of the grapefruit or other citrus fruit.

2. With a serrated knife, cut a strip around the top of the grapefruit, using a sawing motion. Keep moving down and around the grapefruit until you have reached the bottom. The hope is the remove the skin and the white pith without removing too much of the precious flesh of the fruit. If you have missed any of the pith, cut it off.

3. Cut the sections by cutting along one side of the membrane and then on the other side of the membrane. Slide out the section. Best to do this step over a bowl to catch the juice.

4. Continue around the grapefruit until you have removed all the grapefruit sections. Squeeze the bundle (bottom right) of membranes to get more juice which you get to drink as a reward.

An Additional Indian Dish

Gujarati Cabbage Slaw
One of last week’s dinner party guests asked for this recipe so I thought it made sense to add it to the blog.

¼ cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon asafetida, if you can find it
Note: Asafetida is the hardened sap of a fennel-like plant. You can find it at a purveyor of Indian spices in little plastic containers. (Vik’s in Berkeley) The smell is quite strong but the taste, while distinctive, is mild.
¾ cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 medium head green cabbage (1½ pounds), finely shredded
1 cup shredded fresh coconut or ½ cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 fresh Thai, serrano or cayenne chili, finely chopped, more or less to your taste
3 tablespoons sugar, or less if you desire
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Juice of medium lime (about 2 tablespoons)

1. Heat the oil in a wok or a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add asafetida and peanuts; sizzle for 30 seconds.
2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the lime juice; stir fry about 5 minutes or until the cabbage is hot. If your cabbage threatens to burn, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep the pan moist but not wet. Remove from the heat.
3. Stir in the lime juice. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, depending on your preference.

6 servings
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For the Fun and the Challenge: Indian Food for Sixteen

Last Saturday night we gave a dinner party/fundraiser for our church, First Congregational Church of Berkeley. The evening, entitled “Trends in Religion, Culture, and Politics,” included a dinner, to be cooked by me, and a discussion led by Katherine Fulton and our senior minister, Patricia de Jong. Sixteen people had signed up. Whew! So several weeks in advance of the Big Night, I asked myself: What would be the most fun to cook for a group this size?

I found the answer quite easily. Back in December we spent a week at Rancho la Puerta, a beautiful spa and cooking school located in Tecate, Mexico, about an hour from San Diego. The cooking school is connected to the organic garden that I wrote about last year on January 10, 2010. This year’s guest chef was Raghavan Iyer, an Indian from Mumbai (Bombay), who now lives in Minneapolis of all places. Raghavan is a very gifted teacher and also writes splendid cookbooks. His most recent is 660 Curries (2008), following up on Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking (really) and The Turmeric Trail. I loved his class, loved my classmates, and loved the food. So I bought his books and started working my way through 660, relishing the flavors and the exploration of a new cuisine. And decided, with no small amount of hubris, that I would cook an Indian feast for the dinner party. Had I ever been to an Indian feast? Actually, no. But it was a thrill, a challenge, a “what the hell” kind of moment.

Perusing his cookbooks, as well as Veganomicon, a favorite vegan cookbook, I came up with ten dishes that I thought would work—really I found thirteen but quickly realized that ten was plenty. Eight new recipes, two that I’d cooked before. Yellow pad in hand, I started planning.

I made a store list, and on Friday photocopied the recipes and put them in a notebook—so much easier than wrestling with four cookbooks and multiple pages, visited Vik’s Chaat Corner in Berkeley for Indian provisions and finally went to my local supermarket for everything else. I got home around noon and started cooking. Did I mention that first thing in the morning I’d had a crown on a back tooth? It was quite a day. By 10:30pm that evening, I had made seven of the ten dishes, crammed everything into my fridge (no mean feat), and cleaned up the kitchen. Saturday morning, I started on the last three dishes, interspersed with hiding various messes and tidying up the rest of the house. By 5:00pm when the guests started to arrive, I was pretty much ready. And the evening moved on nicely from there.

Curried Carrot Dip, Veganomicon, (see recipe below) with crackers and toasted naan (Indian bread) accompanied the first part of the conversation.

I put the following dishes on my dining room table, buffet style:

Cashew Cheese with a Red Bell Pepper Sauce, 660 Curries

Chickpeas with Mango Powder, 660 Curries (see recipe below)

Chicken in Saffron-Almond Sauce, The Turmeric Trail (see recipe below)

Samosa-Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Veganomicon

Gujarati Cabbage Slaw, Betty Crocker's Indian Home Cooking

Unripe [and Semi-ripe] Papaya Salad with Chiles, The Turmeric Trail

Spiced Yogurt Sauce, Veganomicon

Golden Raisin Relish, The Turmeric Trail

And finally, warmed naan which I purchased.

We took a break from the second part of the discussion to sample Sweet Potato Halwa, Recipes from an Urban Village, along with little tangerines and dates.

It was quite a feast. You’ll find recipes for three of the dishes below.

Thanks to Veganomicon and to Raghavan’s delicious recipes, the food was a great success. Lots of new flavors and textures: mango powder, asafetida, garam masala, paneer. A beautiful array of colors, lots of oranges and subtle yellows, green garnishes, and red sprinkles. And the conversation was as lively and interesting as the food, just as I had hoped. There were mutterings about a repeat next year. Am I up for it?

A Taste of India

The following three recipes aren’t exactly an Indian menu—but could be with a few additions. Like rice and stir-fried spinach with garlic. Better in terms of learning to cook Indian food and helping your dinner companions like the spiciness of it, you might introduce the chicken or the chickpeas into a dinner that is rounded out with more familiar fare. Like rice and a salad. The carrot dip will be a hit under any circumstances.

Curried Carrot Dip

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into ½ -inch pieces
¼ cup sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place the carrots in a pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and let cool.
2. Place the sunflower seeds in a blender or food processor and process into crumbs. Add the carrots and all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
3. Taste for salt and adjust the spices and lemon juice. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with crackers, toasted naan (Indian bread) or fresh veggies.

Makes 2 cups
Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Chickpeas with Mango Powder
This recipe calls for mango powder which you can find at a purveyor of Indian spices in your area. I go to Vik’s Chaat Corner in Berkeley, located on Channing Way at Fourth Street. But don’t hesitate to use lime juice instead. Vary the amount of heat in the dish by starting with a small amount of cayenne, tasting the sauce (and waiting for the heat to build), and adding more to your taste. This dish benefits from sitting for a while after being made. The flavor sneaks into the chickpeas with every passing minute. Just reheat gently before serving.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 black, green or white cardamom pods
1-2 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long
1 cup canned crushed or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons mango powder or fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground, or 2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoons cayenne pepper [I used about 1/8 teaspoon]
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups cooked chickpeas, canned or cooked from dried beans
1 cup water or chicken stock
4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped red onion

1. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks and cook until they sizzle and smell aromatic, 10 to 15 seconds.
2. Add the tomatoes, mango powder or lime juice, coriander, ground cumin, salt, cayenne, and turmeric. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the sauce, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the chickpeas, 1 cup water or stock, and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas absorb the flavors, and the sauce thickens, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with the onion and the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 cups
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries

Chicken in Saffron-Almond Sauce
This dish is so convenient. Ahead of time you can get the chicken steeping in the cream and saffron, chop up the garlic and ginger, and make the almond paste. When you are ready for dinner, everything is set to go and you can cook it up in 20 to 25 minutes.

1-2 pinches saffron threads
½ cup heavy cream, warmed (in the microwave)
1¼ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper [I used much less.]
½ cup blanched almond slivers
¼ cup water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see below)
2 tablespoons ghee, vegetable oil, or butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. In a large bowl, steep the saffron in the warm heavy cream for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken, cilantro, salt, and cayenne. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 8 hours.
3. In a blender, purée the almonds, water or stock, and Garam Masala until smooth.
4. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the ghee, oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden.
5. Stir in the chicken mixture and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until partially cooked.
6. Mix in the almond paste and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.
7. Pour into a warmed serving bowl. Rice or naan (Indian bread) are great for sopping up the delicious sauce.

4 servings
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s The Turmeric Trail

Garam Masala
You can find jars of Garam Masala in the spice section of your supermarket or in packets at an Indian spice store. I don’t particularly like the balance of spices in these jars—the one I tried has too much allspice or cloves in it. But if you are really pinched for time, try one out. It won’t ruin your dish, but your own mixture will make it much better.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (removed from the pods)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
15 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches in length, broken into pieces

1. In a small heavy skillet, roast all the spices over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the spices turn one shade darker, start to crackle, and become fragrant.
2. Transfer the roasted spices to a plate to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Grind in a spice grinder until the mixture has the texture of finely ground black pepper.
3. Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place for up to a month. Be sure to label the jar so you remember the contents.

Makes about ¼ cup
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s The Turmeric Trail

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken for the Kids (and Grown-ups Too)

Lemon Chicken
I made this recipe for the first time shortly after acquiring The Silver Palate Cookbook in April 1984. Both of my boys (then 9 and 12) loved this chicken, maybe for the lemon but mostly, I suspect, for the brown sugar. Over the years, my taste has changed and I’ve vastly decreased the amount of sugar—but there is still a little hint of sweet that is balanced nicely with the sourness of the zest and juice.

9 chicken thighs, skin and extra fat removed
Lemon zest from 4 lemons
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoky sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1. Combine the thighs and lemon juice in a bowl just large enough to hold them. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight, turning occasionally. A shorter time is fine too.
2. Drain the chicken thoroughly and pat dry, setting aside the marinade. Fill a plastic bag with flour, salt, paprika and pepper and shake well to mix. Put two pieces of chicken into the bag at a time and shake, coating completely.
3. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
4. Heat the oil in a large frying plan until hot and fry the thighs, until well browned. This will take about 10 minutes per batch.
5. Arrange the browned chicken in a single layer in a large shallow baking pan. Sprinkle them evenly with lemon zest and brown sugar. Mix together the chicken stock, leftover marinade, and lemon extract and pour around the thighs.
6. Bake for 35 or 40 minutes or until tender.

6-8 servings
Adapted from Julee Ross and Sheila Lukins’ The Silver Palate Cookbook

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Fish Dish for Wooing and Wowing

Fish with Teriyaki Sauce
Katherine Fulton wooed me and wowed me with this recipe in the opening stages of our relationship. At that point, almost 21 years ago, we were unaware of the mercury these wonderful deep sea fish were ingesting. Knowing the health dangers as we do now, I choose to eat them only occasionally and to buy them from a fish purveyor whom I trust to get the best and safest available.

I served a Lemon Barley Pilaf (from my May 19, 2010 blog) and a light salad of cucumber, jicama, lettuce, and avocado, along with the fish.

2 pounds fish, thick fillets or steaks (tuna and swordfish both work well)
¼ cup chopped scallions, garnish

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
½ cup mirin
OR as a substitute for the mirin
¼ cup sherry or sake with 2 teaspoons sugar and
¼ cup white or rice vinegar or fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the marinade ingredients.
2. Rinse the fish fillets or steaks and place them in a deep bowl. Pour the marinade over the fish and chill for ½ to 1 hour. Remove from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before cooking.
3. Place the fish with the marinade in an oiled plan. Cover and bake at 350°F. for about 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Remove the fish from the marinade and grill or broil it, basting occasionally with the marinade. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side so as to keep it a little pink in the center.
If you want to use a grill pan on the top of the stove, heat it over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade and cook it for about 3 minutes on each side so as to keep it a little pink in the center.
4. If you grill, broil, or pan grill the fish, heat the remaining marinade in a small saucepan until it boils. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the fish.
5. Garnish the fish with chopped scallions.

4-6 servings
Adapted from The Moosewood Collective’s New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

Two Winter Salads

Orange and Black Olive Salad
The oranges on the tree outside my kitchen window are pretty sparse this year. I had my trees trimmed at precisely the wrong time—when the fruit was just forming. But trimming was exactly what the tree needed to make abundant fruit next year—if I can just hold on. The store-bought varieties are quite flavorful so I can still make this wonderful winter salad.

6 navel or temple oranges
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 teaspoon sweet smoky paprika
¼ teaspoon hot smoky paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Peel and section the oranges: First cut off the stem and the navel ends of the orange down to the flesh. Then cut off all the peel and white pith from the orange, starting at the top and working around the orange. It is easiest to do this with a serrated knife. Next section the orange by cutting on one side of the membrane and then on the other to release the orange piece. Continue your way around the orange. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into the bowl with the oranges. Refrigerate if you are not serving right away. You can do this the day before you are going to serve it.
2. Just before serving, drain the oranges, saving the juice. Arrange the olives and the oranges on a serving dish.
3. Make a dressing of the olive oil and the remaining ingredients, except the parsley; pour it over the olives and oranges. Add some of the reserved juice if the oranges need a bit more sauce; you can drink the rest. Sprinkle with parsley and stir in slightly. Serve at once.

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Couscous

Tabbouleh Cracked Wheat Salad
Elias Abusaba, our dear friend and a remarkable poet, would make us his version of Lebanese tabbouleh every time he and Mary Edith came to dinner. Nothing could compare to his. After he died, I was on my own and have tried my best to duplicate his wonderful salad, although I must confess (please forgive me, Elias) I don’t chop the parsley, green onions, and mint by hand. In memory of Elias…

½ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
Juice of 1-2 lemons equaling about 6 tablespoons
3 Romas or other tomatoes, seeded, juiced, and chopped (you want about 2 cups chopped)
Note: Romas are pretty good during the winter—but are certainly not local. You can also use sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, thinly sliced.
2 cups chopped parsley (1½ - 2 bunches) using a food processor
½ cup chopped green onions (4-5 green onions) using a food processor
½ cup chopped mint, using a food processor
1 tablespoon dried mint
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
Pinch of allspice, optional
Pinch of cinnamon, optional
½ teaspoon cumin, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
Lettuce for serving

1. Soak the bulgur in 2 cups water for 20 minutes. Squeeze well with your hands, removing as much moisture as you can.
2. Put in a bowl and add the lemon juice and tomatoes. Let sit for 30-45 minutes to absorb the liquid or until the grain is tender.
3. Add the parsley, green onions, fresh and dried mint, cucumber, spices, if desired, salt, pepper and oil. Mix well.
4. Just before serving, taste for seasonings. Adjust as needed. You can serve the salad on a bed of greens or use the leaves to scoop it up.

6 servings
A combination of two recipes: Cassie Maroun-Paladin’s Foods of the Lebanon and Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

Three Desserts to Enliven Winter Evenings

I know, I know, I know, it’s January and we’re all trying to take off the few extra pounds we took on over the holidays. So why in heaven’s name would I want to give you recipes for three absolutely delicious desserts? Well here is my reasoning. People are still having birthdays and need a nice cake. Friends who adore desserts are still coming over for dinner and asking as they walk in the door “What’s for dessert?” You still might have some apples in the fridge from your tree in the backyard or cranberries in your freezer. And Lavender Shortcake, who can resist these little squares of lavender goodness to remind us that better weather lies ahead? If none of these things convinces you to try one of the three, set this blog aside and pull it out again in April, but by then your apples will most likely be gone.

Jamaican Rum Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup dark or light rum
6 tablespoons crushed walnuts, optional
Rum Syrup, see recipe below

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour a 9- or 10-inch spring-form pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until they are fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, blending until smooth.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, rum and nuts, mixing until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.
4. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the cake bounces back when pressed gently in the center. A 9-inch pan may take a little longer.
5. Prepare the syrup. See recipe below.
6. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke it with toothpicks. Pour the hot rum syrup over the hot cake.
7. Let the cake cool before removing from pan.
8. You might want to microwave each piece before serving. You can serve it with rum raisin ice cream which is yummy but not necessary.

Rum Syrup

½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark or light rum

1. Put the butter and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir to combine as the butter melts.
2. Add the rum and bring to a boil for a few minutes.

10 servings
Adapted from Joan Nathan’s The New American Cooking

Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream
I have had The French Laundry Cookbook on my shelf since November 2003—a long time. In these seven years, I have made exactly one recipe from it. This one, in October 2004. I swear it is the only recipe in the whole book that I felt competent to tackle. But it quickly joined my list of “keepers” and has become a fall staple. Sally Schmitt was one of the original owners of The French Laundry Restaurant. She and her husband passed the restaurant and this recipe along to Thomas Keller when they were ready to devote themselves to their apple orchards some distance to the north.

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup milk or half and half
3 apples
1 cup fresh cranberries, at room temperature, defrosted if previously frozen
Cinnamon sugar: 1 tablespoon sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Hot Cream Sauce, see recipe below

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch cake pan or spring-form pan. Put a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.
2. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Slice them into ¼-inch wedges.
3. Beat together the butter, sugar, and egg in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients until the mixture is fluffy and light in texture.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not overbeat; mix just until the ingredients are combined.
5. Spoon the batter into the pan. Press the apple slices into the batter, about ¼ inch apart and core side down. Work in a circular pattern like the spokes of a wheel. Put most of the cranberries in the middle of the cake and the remaining around the edges. Poke some into the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the cake bounces back when softly pushed in the middle. Set on rack to cool briefly or let cool to room temperature.
7. Serve the kuchen in a good-sized puddle of the hot sauce. Pass the remainder in a pitcher.

Hot Cream Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1. Combine the cream, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 5-8 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly.

8 servings
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
12 drops lavender essential oil
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 1/3 cups cake flour or unbleached regular flour
1 large egg white
1½ tablespoons dried lavender flowers
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling

1. In a food processor, blend the sugar and essential oil for 15 seconds, until well combined. Add the salt and the butter and pulse until the butter is well incorporated. Add the egg and pulse until incorporated. Add the flour and carefully pulse, until the dough forms small pebble-like shapes. Remove the dough from the processor and gently combine by hand until smooth. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. Roll out the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch.
Note: You may need to let it soften slightly before attempting to roll it out. Rolling it out between two sheets of plastic wrap may be helpful.
3. Line your rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
4. Cut the dough into rectangles and transfer to the baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between each shortbread. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes. If you have bits of leftover dough, mush them together, chill slightly, roll them out to ¼-inch thickness, and add to the baking sheet.
5. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
6. Whisk the egg white in a mixing bowl for about 10 seconds, until it is frothy. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator, brush with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar and lavender flowers, pressing them slightly into the dough.
7. Bake until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool before serving. The flavor and texture are much better at room temperature.

Makes about 27 2x2 inch cookies
Adapted from Mandy Aftel and Daniel Patterson’s Aroma