Category Archives: Winter

Farm Wife’s Fresh Pear Tart

Rustic and simple to make, this cake is an incredibly delicious treat in fall and winter.
A 9-inch tart
Shopping List

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
11/2 cups flour
2 pounds fresh pears, preferably Bosc or Anjou rather than Bartlett
1/2 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
3 TBL butter
12 whole cloves

Note that the pears will cook and don’t have to be fully ripened, although they should be on their way to getting ripe. Preheat oven to 375º F. In a mixing bowl, beat

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk

together in a bowl. Add

  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

and continue to beat. Add

  • 11/2 cups flour

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

Cut the pears lengthwise in two, scoop out the seeds and core, then cut them into thin slices about one inch wide. Add them to the batter in the mixing bowl, distributing them evenly. Smear a 9-inch round cake pan generously with

  • 1 TBL butter

and sprinkle with

  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

then turn over the pan and give it a sharp rap against the counter to shake loose excess crumbs. Put batter in pan, level it off with the back of a spoon. Make many small hollows on the top with a fingertip and fill with bits of

  • 2 TBL butter, cut into small bits

Stud the cake with

  • 12 whole cloves

distributing them at random, but apart. Place the pan in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the top is lightly colored.

While it is still lukewarm, cut around the edge of the pan, invert the cake on a rack and then invert it back onto a serving plate. It is very nice served while still warm, but it’s no disappointment at room temperature.

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan.

Duck Cholent

An update of a dish frequently made by eastern European Jews. Cooks overnight in the oven or a slow cooker.
Makes 4 generous servings

Shopping List

4 duck leg quarters
1 cup dry cannellini beans
1/2 cup pearled barley
4 small to medium potatoes
1 TBL olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 head of garlic
1 branch of fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups of duck or chicken stock
parsley, for garnish
I

Note: Regarding portions, you may want to put more duck pieces in this recipe without increasing the other ingredients as it has a lot of beans, barley and potatoes for 4 servings.

To cook this in the oven, you will need a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a ATTNtight-fitting lid. You can also make this in a slow cooker, although I have never made it that way.

Preheat the oven to 200º F, unless you will be using a slow cooker. Trim excess fat from

  • 4 duck leg quarters

In a skillet of suitable size, heat

  • 1 TBL olive oil

brown the duck legs, working in batches if needed and draining the excess fat as it accumulates. If you’d prefer to have a lower-fat version of this dish you can remove most of the skin and fat and skip the process of rendering the fat, although browning the meat a bit will make the finished dish look better. As the the duck is browned and the fat is rendered to your desired level, transfer duck pieces to a plate.

As the duck fat is rendering, peel and dice

  • a small onion (1/2 cup diced onion)

You can also prepare

  • 1/2 clove garlic

by peeling it and chopping it coarsely. ATTNKeep it separate from the onion for now.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the Dutch oven or slow cooker place

  • 1 cup dry cannellini beans (ATTNdo not soak them)
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 4 small-to-medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

When the duck been browned, transfer the pieces to a plate and remove all but 1 TBL of fat from the pan. The reserved fat is not used for this recipe, so you can discard or save it for something else. Over medium-low heat saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent, then add the garlic pieces and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the Dutch oven or slow cooker, and add

  • 1 TBL salt, ATTN See the Useful Information page (link at top). That’s Kosher salt!
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 TBL finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
  • several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme

Place the duck pieces on top of the other ingredients and add

  • 1 cup red wine
  • enough chicken or duck stock to come up to the mid-level of the duck pieces, about 4 or 41/2 cups.

Put on the lid and place in the oven. This will need to cook for about 10-12 hours (same for a slow cooker set on the low temperature) and don’t worry about the exact timing because if it’s done after 10 hours and cooks for 12, nothing bad will happen.

ATTN Some ovens have a safety feature that shuts them off running for an extended period of time. My oven shuts off after 12 hours. If you have such an oven (usually the ones with electronic displays and controls), pay attention in case it shut itself off overnight and just start it up again, making sure the food temperature has stayed warm enough to be safe.

When the 10-12 hours mark has been reached, open the cover and add salt/pepper if needed. Some people like to remove the duck pieces and take the meat from the bones, returning it to the cholent. The last time I made this the duck legs were small enough I could give each person their own.

This dish is much better the day after you make it. To reheat, place the Dutch oven in a 300ºF oven until heated thoroughly.

Serve in bowls, perhaps garnished with

  • chopped parsley

although my my used to say “gornisht helft” (“nothing helps”) when speaking of parsley garnishes.

Inspired by a recipe by Deb Lindsey published in The Washington Post.

Potato Soup

Growing up in the Depression was bad enough (we hear), but feeding a household with 7 children, 3 or 4 adults on a meager income made it tougher. Nonetheless, my maternal grandmother kept her family fed. Potatoes were a recurring part of the menu.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Shopping List

4 large or 6 medium potatoes

1 large onion

1 carrot

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 heaping tablespoon flour

Combine in a large saucepan or small stock pot

  • 4 large or 6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and pierced in several places with a knife
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Cover with water, a couple of inches above the level of the other ingredients. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking until potatoes are soft but whole pieces remain. This will take about 40 minutes.

When potatoes reach this stage, turn off the heat and remove the onion from the soup. In a small frying pan, melt

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

over a medium heat. Continue to stir as it starts to darken. Add

  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour

stir to make a thin roux. Cook this until it is brown, ATTNbut do not let it burn, and then remove from heat. This mixture is called an “einbrenn” and it’s what gives the soup its flavor.

Carefully add a spoonful of soup liquid to the einbrenn because ATTNthere is going to be some spattering. Add another spoonful of liquid and then start to mix the contents of the pan into the soup. You can wash out the last bits of the einbrenn from the frying pan by taking a bit more of the liquid from the soup pot. Return the soup to the heat, and cook for 30 minutes more. Stir regularly and ATTN don’t let the heat get too high or soup may scorch.

Adjust the seasoning. I like to add black pepper although the original recipe had only salt. If you like the soup a bit less chunky, use a potato masher to break up some of the pieces of potato.

Make this soup the day before you plan to serve it because it will taste much better. When reheating the soup, you may find it has gotten so thick you need to add a little water. Reheat on a low flame otherwise the soup might scorch. Or, reheat in a microwave oven.

From my grandmother’s recipe, passed down by my mother, Rita. The recipe probably came from eastern Europe, where that side of my family originated.

Cullen Skink

Don't let the strange-sounding Scottish name for this delicious soup scare you away. It's smoked-fish chowder. Perfect for a cold winter's day.
4 servings

Shopping List

16 ounces smoked haddock fillets

3 cups milk

1 bay leaf

2 large potatoes

2 large leeks or 1 large onion (or a mixture)

3 TBL butter

3/4 cup heavy cream

parsley for garnish

In a shallow broad (frying) pan, place

  • 16 ounces smoked haddock fillets
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups milk

and heat until it’s steaming but don’t let it boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the fish is fully cooked. Turn off the heat, remove the fish to a cutting board, and reserve the milk and bay leaf.

In a 2-quart sauce pan over medium heat add

  • 3 TBL butter

and when it is foamy add

  • 2 large leeks, finely sliced and cleaned (or 1 large onion, minced)

Add back in the bay leaf and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add

  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup water

cover and let steam until potatoes are just cooked through. Add the reserved milk. Simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile flake the fish, removing any skin or bones.

Add the fish back to the pan and add

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Remove the bay leaf. Season with black pepper to taste. (It probably won’t need any salt, but check.) When serving, you may want to garnish with some chopped parsley.

Curried Cauliflower & Potato Soup

Roasting the cauliflower first adds depth. Some tomato and coconut milk give the broth a rich, silky texture.
Makes about 3 quarts

Shopping List

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

11/2 tsp cinnamon

11/4 tsp turmeric

pinch cayenne pepper

1 small head cauliflower

2 TBL olive oil

1 large onion

1-2 carrots (for 1 cup diced)

3 large cloves garlic

11/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp red chile pepper flakes

1 (14-16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, or no-salt tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

2-4 russet potatoes (3 cups diced)

2-4 sweet potatoes (3 cups diced)

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

1 large lime

1 bunch cilantro

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

In a small bowl, combine

  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 11/2 cinnamon
  • 11/4 tsp turmeric
  • 11/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, toss

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
  • 1 TBL olive oil

Sprinkle with 1 TBL of the spice mixture and toss again. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower until the edges are browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat the remaining

  • 1 TBL olive oil

over medium-high heat. Add

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup diced carrot

and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook a few minutes more, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Add

  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 11/2 tsp grated (or minced) fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp red chile pepper flakes
  • the remaining spice mixture

Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

Stir in

  • 1 (14-16 ounce) can whole tomatoes, or no-salt tomato sauce

scraping up any browned bits and breaking up the tomatoes, and simmer for 1 minute. Add

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups diced peeled russet potatoes (1/2-inch)
  • 3 cups diced peeled sweet potatoes (1/2-inch)
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 TBL lime juice

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, partially cover and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

Stir in

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • the reserved roasted cauliflower

Return to a simmer to heat through. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Kiffling (Wedding Cookies)

Rich crescent-shaped almond cookies with a light, crunchy texture. Despite the powdered sugar, they're not too sweet. They're easy to make.
Makes 3 dozen
Shopping List
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz almonds (unroasted, skins on)
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

These cookies have a delicious crumbly texture. I’m not a fan of confectioners’ sugar, but the coating on the on the outside works perfectly.

Using a mechanical grinder (meat, nut, whatever), grind

  • 8 ounces almonds

I suppose you could use 8 ounces of almond flour, but leaving the skins on provides a darker result and more flavor.

In a bowl, cream

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter

Add

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

When thoroughly mixed, add the ground almonds. Then blend in

  • 2 cups cake flour

to make a uniform dough. ATTN Using cake flour provides the cookies with a better texture. Place the covered dough in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325º F. After the dough has rested, measure out uniform pieces. I  used a scale and aimed for 22g pieces: they’re a little bigger than I’d have liked because (to my surprise) the dough rose a bit as it baked. You can just use a spoon or approximate uniform pieces with your eye: ATTN that’s better for your mental health.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form crescents, making sure they taper down at the points. Place the cookies on the parchment-lined pans: they can be fairly close because they don’t expand much.

Kiffling waiting to go into the oven.
Kiffling waiting to go into the oven.

Bake for about 12 minutes and then check on them. If you need to rotate the racks or swap the racks top to bottom. Keep an eye on them until they are golden. At the size I made the cookies they took about 22 minutes to bake, but your timing may vary. You definitely want the cookies watch the cookies until they take on a nice color.

When the cookies come out of the oven, coat them in confectioners’ sugar. The cookies can break, so my approach was to dust them using a strainer with confectioners’ sugar right over the cookie pans. Then I used a spatula to move the cookies over a little to place the bottoms onto some of the spare sugar on cookie sheet.

Some people dust them a second time after they cool, but it’s more sugar than I like.

From my sister, Mindy, who probably got it from a family friend.

 

Rum Balls

Easy: no baking involved.
Makes about 30 cookies

Shopping List

about 11/2 cups vanilla wafers

about 5 ounces pecans

2 TBL cocoa

about 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

 

If you have a food processor, it will make chopping the nuts and pulverizing the vanilla wafers, but do each one separately. Next time I make this I’m going to grind the pecans instead of chopping them.

Measure together in a bowl

  • 1 cup (95g) of vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup (135g) finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup (110g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBL (10g) cocoa powder

Stir to combine ingredients. Add

  • 1/4 cup rum or bourbon
  • 2 TBL corn syrup

Mixture should be refrigerated a couple hours (or overnight) to allow the dry ingredients to fully absorb the liquid. Roll into small balls. (I overthought this and weighed them to target about 14g each.) Roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store in refrigerator.

NOTE: The original recipe made double this quantity, and Betty suggested making half with cocoa and half without cocoa.

From a dear family friend, Betty Rosen. I get a smile on my face every time I think about her.

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornmeal Crust

Much better than those frozen pot pies of your childhood

Shopping List

1 pound cooked chicken meat or 4 chicken thighs

2 medium (or 1 large) turnips

1 parsnip

8 ounces mushrooms

3 medium or 2 large carrots

2 large onion

1 pound potatoes

3-4 TBL olive oil

5 ounces frozen peas

1 cup milk

13/4 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon chicken base (or 1 cube chicken bouillon)

1/4 cup cornmeal (we prefer the granularity of Quaker brand corn meal)

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

If you have some cooked meat and broth available, skip this step and continue with the mushrooms, below.

Place in saute pan

  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

placing

  • 4 chicken thighs on top of onion slices

add

  • 3 cups water

Bring to a boil, reducing heat to maintain a low, gentle simmer and cook ATTNcovered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, reserving liquid, and let cool. Discard onion pieces. Strain liquid and measure: add water to bring amount to 3 cups. Discard chicken skin and bone the chicken meat, cutting into bite-size chunks.

Continue from this point if you already have cooked meat and broth available. Slice and saute on high heat:

  • 2 TBL oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms

cooking until well colored. Set aside. In the meantime, dice

  • 2 medium (or 1 large) turnips
  • 1 parsnip
  • 3 medium-sized or 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat

  • 1-2 TBL olive oil

and saute vegetables for 10 minutes. Then add

  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Continue cooking for 10 minutes stirring often. Stop cooking while vegetables are still a bit crisp, especially the potatoes. Add

  • chicken meat (1 pound or whatever you obtained from cooking the chicken thighs)
  • 5 ounces frozen peas

Spoon into a baking dish or gratin pan. Generally this is about the size of a 13- x 9-inch baking pan or a decorative dish. The pan should hold all the mixture with a bit of room to spare; broader is better because you get more crust surface.

In a small bowl, combine until smooth

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425º F. In a large saucepan, heat

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt

to a boil. Then add the milk mixture. Stir until it thickens. Stir sauce and pour over chicken/vegetable mixture in the baking dish

In a mixing bowl, combine

  • scant 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in

  • 1/2 cup shortening

When mixture resembles coarse crumbs, sprinkle with

  • 1/3 cup ice water

ATTN1 TBL at a time, mixing with a fork in each area where you sprinkle. Add only enough water for the dough to bind together. Roll it out on a floured surface into a shape about 2 inches bigger than the top of the baking dish. Position over filling, folding the 1-inch overhang into a flute. Brush crust with

  • Milk or 1 beaten egg

ATTNCut slits in top of crust. Place on a cookie sheet to catch any drips and transfer to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbling. You may need to cover the edge of the crust with foil to prevent over-browning. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Dried Fruit Fruitcake

My mother found the basis for this recipe in Family Circle or Good Housekeeping magazine around 1970 and made it several times. Before eating this, I thought fruitcake was awful, but this is a real delight.
2 loaves or 1 large round cake

Combine

  • 2 cups dried apples, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces dried apricots, chopped
  • 8 ounces pitted whole dates, snipped into small pieces
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup calvados (or apple juice)

(Note that this totals to about 8 cups of fruit but the volume will vary depending on how it is packed and how large the pieces are cut.)  Let mixture stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, stir together and set aside

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice

Preheat over to 300º F. Make batter by creaming

  • 1 cup butter

Blend in

  • 1 cup sugar

One at a time, beating after each, add

  • 6 eggs

Add flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with a total of

  • 16 ounces applesauce

Stir in fruit after incorporating flour. Grease and flour pans: I use 2 9- by 5-inch loaf pans, but you may choose to make one large cake in a 10-inch tube pan.  The tube pan takes 2 hours to cook and the loaf pans take about 1 hour 45 minutes.

Cool cake(s) and remove from pan(s). Soak cheesecloth in

  • brandy as needed

wrapping cake(s) in cheesecloth, then in a plastic bag. Store the cake at room temperature, but avoid hot places. Check back on the cake every 2 weeks and if the cheesecloth has dried, be sure to re-soak the cloth and re-wrap the cake. The cakes will need about 6-8 weeks of aging before they are ready to eat.

ATTN The brandy you choose will change the flavor of the cake. A fruit-flavored brandy, such as Calvados or Grappa would probably be great. I’ve used Metaxa and been quite happy, but I’ve also had great results with cheap blackberry-flavored brandy, which is what my mother always used.

Maafe

Mah-fay is a stewed dish found in many countries of Africa with variation, but always having of ground peanuts in its sauce.
About 6 servings, depending on your appetites

Remove the skin from

  • 10-12 chicken thighs

You may wish to brown them in some

  • vegetable oil to coat bottom of 3 quart pot

If you do brown them, reserve the chicken after browning. If not, and I am inclined not to bother, put the oil in the pot and continue by cooking

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt

until it is softened. While it cooks, prepare

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 peeled butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 3-4 jalapeno peppers, stems removed and discarded. Cut peppers half, then slice crosswise. I leave the seeds in because I like more spice in the dish. You can omit the seeds or reduce the peppers according to taste.

When the onions are soft, add the vegetables, chicken and

  • the complete contents of 1 can (32 ounces) of plum tomatoes
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of peanut butter (I used smooth this time)
  • a few shakes of garlic powder or some minced garlic
  • 1 TBL grated ginger
  • 1 cup water

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Make sure the heat is just hot enough to keep it at a simmer. Move chicken around in pot after 20 minutes and again 20 minutes later.

You can serve the dish as soon as the chicken is cooked through (about 40-45 minutes total) but ATTN it will taste much better if you reheat it and serve it the following day.

Note: this dish can be made with goat, beef or probably even firm tofu instead of the chicken. You may wish to vary the vegetables to include potatoes or other root vegetables.

Italian Clam Soup

So delicious and clammy!
Makes four servings

Shopping List

3 dozen littleneck clams

1/4 cup olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic

canned anchovies

1 cup dry white wine

28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

2 tsp dried oregano

dried basil

fresh parsley

Red pepper flakes

bread, for croutons

Scrub

  • 3 dozen littleneck clams

At some point, make the croutons, at bottom of this recipe. Heat in 2-3 quart soup pot

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Add, keeping heat low enough it does not brown:

  • 2 TBL finely minced garlic

Cook briefly and  add

  • 6 anchovy fillets

Cook until the anchovies break down into a paste.  Add

  • 1 cup white wine

and simmer for a minute. Open

  • 28-ounce can of San Marzano or other plum tomatoes

Chop up tomatoes a bit (you can remove the seeds if you care  to), discard a gross-looking piece of basil that seems to be hidden in every can and add all the tomatoes and liquid to the pot, along with

2 tsp dried oregano

11/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1/2 to 1 tsp hot red pepper flakes

freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

ATTN Do not add salt: the anchovies have enough. Bring the pot to a boil and stir briefly. You may work up until this point and pause the recipe until 5 minutes before you with to eat. If you do so, turn off the heat.

Resume the recipe by bringing the soup to a boil. Add the cleaned clams and cover the pot for 5 minutes (or until all the clams open). Serve the soup, leaving the clams in the shells. Garnish with Garlic Croutons (see next paragraph).

To make the croutons, toast 8 slices of a baguette. When toasted, rub one side with the cut surface of a garlic clove you have cut in half.

Adapted from  More 60-Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey.

 

Black Cake

Black Cake is made on many Caribbean islands around Christmas and New Year’s. I’d been wanting to make one since I first read about it in Laurie Colwin’s wonderful collection of essays, Home Cooking, but I never felt comfortable with her recipe —  something felt too relaxed, but that’s how most of her recipes are. When The New York Times published an article and recipe about Black Cake, I was inspired. From there, I made some adaptations.

Makes 2 9-inch cakes, 24 servings

At least two days before you’re going to make the cake, and more like ATTN two to twelve months before, combine

  • 1/2 pound prunes
  • 1/2 pound black raisins
  • 1/2 pound currants
  • 3/4 pound tart dried cherries (Montmorency preferred)
  • 1/4 pound dried bing cherries
  • 2 TBL dried citrus peel
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 3/4 cup Manischewitz Concord grape wine (or cherry brandy)

Place mixture in a glass or plastic container and cover until you are ready to bake the cake, stirring from time to time. There is no need to refrigerate this mixture.

When you’re ready to bake, grind the fruit, adding

  • 2/3 cup blanched almonds
  • additional rum if the mixture is too dry

I used a meat grinder with the finer of two grinding plates and there was no need for additional rum, but whatever you do, ATTN don’t overtax your equipment and burn out the motor. If you need to add extra rum, the cake will just bake longer.

Prepare 2 8- or 9-inch round pans by buttering them and lining the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 250 F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine and set aside

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, beat

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

until fluffy. Add

  • 11/4 cups dark brown sugar (1/2 pound)

Then beat in,

  • 5 large eggs, ATTN one at a time
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Angostura bitters

In a large bowl, combine the batter and the dry ingredients. Add the ground fruit and

  • 3 TBL browning (see note below)

The batter should be a medium-dark brown: it will get darker as it cooks. Distribute the batter between the 2 prepared pans and bake at 250 F for one hour. ATTN Reduce heat to 225 F and bake for another 2 hours. Using a cake tester, check that it comes out clean. Depending on how much liquid was in your fruit mixture, the cake could take up to another hour to finish — but mine didn’t.

Remove the cakes from the oven. Place on racks, and immediately brush with

  • 2 TBL dark rum

Let rest for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pan and leave on racks to cool completely. Wrap in wax paper and then foil. They will keep, in a cool place for several weeks.

NOTE: Browning is a product that’s used to color gravy, but when you go shopping make sure you don’t purchase something that says “Browning and gravy flavoring” or something like that. The only ingredients in browning is caramelized sugar and water. Browning contains no salt and gravy flavoring does. If you can’t find browning, follow the directions for making burnt sugar in the recipe cited above from the Times.

Gedempte Chicken with Preserved Lemons

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Shopping List

2 tablespoons oil

3 cloves garlic

1 large or 2 medium onions

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Several shakes cayenne pepper

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces and trimmed of fat

1 or 2 cans (16-ounce) chickpeas

1 preserved lemon

In a 2-quart stew pot, heat on a medium heat

  • 2 tablespoons oil

When the oil is warmed up, add

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped

Stir occasionally. After 5 minutes add

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Several shakes cayenne pepper

Let this cook for about 10 minutes until the onions become translucent and are browned at the edges. (We used to joke that it didn’t taste right unless you burnt the onions. We’re wiser: it’s no joke.) Be sure the onions are well browned in order to develop a good flavor. Cut up

  • 1 whole chicken, to make 8 to 10 pieces, trimmed of fat

Remove the chicken skin if you will be eating the food right after cooking and you are in a rush, otherwise you won’t have time to cool the liquid to separate out the fat. Push the onions aside and place the meat at the bottom of the pan, with the onions on top, thus allowing the meat to brown. As the chicken browns, turn the pieces over, and eventually get the rest of the chicken into the pan. When it is all browned, add

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 or 2 cans (16-ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Peel of one preserved lemon, cut into small pieces

Cover the pot, reducing heat to the lowest flame to keep it at a low simmer.Occasionally move the pieces around as they cook. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. (If you want a more saucy result, add some chicken stock, but resist the urge to add more water.) If you did not skin the chicken, then you must remove the liquid from the pot and separate out the fat. Serve over couscous.

Pasta with Squid Ink Sauce

Inky black and tasting very fishy this isn’t for everyone, but we love it!
Serves 3, perhaps 4.

Boil some water to cook the pasta. A big pot full of salted water is best. Wait until the water is almost at a boil before starting because it will take a lot longer than preparing the sauce.

In a large frying pan, saute over medium heat

  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 TBL olive oil

Cook until the onion is translucent and tender, but don’t let it brown. Add

  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 generous teaspoon squid ink
  • 3 TBL chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Let bubble gently for a few minutes. Meanwhile clean

  • 1 pound squid

Cut squid into rings. Start cooking

  • 1/2 pound perciatelli (bucatini)

When the pasta is about ATTNa minute or two from being fully cooked, add the squid to the sauce and stir it from time to time. The squid will get tough if it overcooks, so don’t start this prematurely.

Drain the pasta and add it to the frying pan. ATTNWhile wearing an apron or black clothes, stir until the sauce has thoroughly coated the pasta and the squid is cooked. The total cooking time for the squid is under 3 minutes or you will chewing an awful lot of rubber bands.

Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding a sprinkle of cayenne if it’s not as spicy as you’d like. Serve immediately. Even though there is only 1/2 pound of pasta, this will serve 3 or 4 people because there’s so much squid.

Adapted from FXCuisine.com.

 

Marmalade

Inspired by a recipe from The New York Times, I’ve adapted this for my own love of bitter marmalade.

For a batch I use 3 sour (Seville) oranges and 1 Meyer lemon, which makes about 5 half-pint jars of marmalade. You can easily triple the quantity and will have no problem. Feel free to switch the ratio of fruit or use other varieties of oranges or lemons.

Well before starting put 5 small plates in the freezer if you don’t have a candy thermometer. See note at end of this recipe.

Cut ends off the citrus fruit  until flesh is exposed. Slice in half lengthwise lengthwise, and then cut into 1/8-inch slices, removing seeds as you see them. Cut the pieces in half again or you’ll have long pieces that can be awkward to eat on toast.

Measure the fruit and juice. Place the fruit and an equal amount water in a very large saucepan. The bigger pan will help avoid having a boiled over mess. Boil the fruit and water for 25 minutes. Add as many cups of sugar as you had fruit. (3 cups fruit, 3 cups water and 3 cups sugar, for example). Bring to a boil until a candy thermometer reaches 222 degrees or use the cold-plate test described below. This will take about 25 to 40 minutes more, but start checking after 20 minutes. ATTN Keep an eye on the pot as you do this because it can easily boil up and over if it’s too hot, resulting in a huge sticky mess. Stirring can help reduce the chances of a boil-over, but just keep an eye on things.

When the desired temperature is reached, remove from heat, remove any foam that surfaces. Transfer to jars or let cool a bit longer and store in plastic containers. Keeps refrigerated for 4-5 weeks. Because the jars are not sterilized and processed in a hot-water bath, you must refrigerate this. I suspect you can freeze the jam without any problems. If you process canning jars (half-pint jars for 10 minutes) it can be stored at room temperature until opened.

Note: The Times recipe described a method new to me for testing the jell. Put a bit of the hot jelly on a plate that’s been chilled in the freezer and watch to see if runs down the plate or starts to jell as you tilt the plate. You don’t need a hard jell for this test to indicate it’s ready.