Sunday, February 28, 2010

Maple pecan pie

1 pie crust (I've been using Nothing in the House's recipe, but with all white flour - which makes enough for two one-crust pies; the other half freezes well)
1 1/2 to 2 cups of pecan halves
1 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
5 TBSP melted butter
1 TBSP brandy
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the crust, place in a pie pan, make the edges look all nice if so desired.
2. Spread pecans across the bottom of the pie crust (they'll float to the top once you pour in the liquid mixture).
3. Combine all remaining ingredients (if you beat the eggs well first, you might avoid the unsightly eggy bit you see in the photo) and pour into the pie crust.
4. Bake until set, 50-60 minutes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Free-form apple tart with palm sugar

This is just one-half of Nothing in the House's pie crust (though I didn't have any whole-wheat pastry flour, so I just used 2 cups of all-purpose), rolled out, filled with 3 medium-sized apples, peeled & sliced, and then topped with a sprinkle of ground ginger and a couple of tablespoons of grated palm sugar (H brought home a cake of it from Thai Phat the other day). Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 for another 20-30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Potato timbales with garlicky black beans and greens

My work email has, over the last few months, apparently been subscribed to a wide variety of e-publications vaguely related to my interests (including Guitar Magazine, Keyboard Magazine, even "EQ Magazine," which is, I guess, for folks who are really, really into the proper balance between treble, mid and bass). Generally, these all get deleted, but the week before the Superbowl I glanced at something from a cooking-related site, and jotted down not the recipe but the basic mechanics of something they called "mashed potato timbales."

So, especially what with having a couple of egg whites on hand after using the yolks for Roman Style Baked Semolina Gnocchi earlier in the week, I thought I would take a crack at the recipe. They are light in texture but not in calories or fat, so I paired them with some ├╝ber-healthy beans & greens.

Potato Timbales
2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp salt
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. ricotta cheese
sprinkle of dried oregano (or whatever seasoning you like)
2 egg whites
butter for greasing tins (maybe 1 TBSP altogether)
cornmeal or breadcrumbs for coating (optional)

1. Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks, and cook in boiling water until tender. Mash well.
2. Add the salt, sour cream, cheese and seasoning. Mash until well blended.
3. Grease standard muffin tins (one 12-muffin pan or 2 6-muffin pans) generously with butter, then sprinkle cornmeal or breadcrumbs in if desired.
4. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold into potato mixture.
5. Spoon potato mixture into muffin tins and bake in 425 degree oven for 27-30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes.

The final result:

While timbales are baking, make your beans. I used a lot of garlic, combined from a bunch of cloves of widely varying sizes, amounting in total to about 1/3 of a head:

Garlicky black beans and greens
1/3 of a head of garlic, peeled and minced
about a TBSP of cooking fat (I used rendered bacon drippings, but any oil would probably be OK)
1/2 can or so of tomatoes, with juices
3 cups of recently home-cooked black beans, with cooking liquid, or 2 cans black beans, well-rinsed, plus some water
about 2/3 of a bunch of chard or other greens, stems removed, leaves cut into 1/2" wide ribbons

1. Heat cooking fat over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
2. Add tomatoes and season well with salt, stirring to break up tomatoes.
3. Add beans and cooking liquid (or water).
4. Add greens, stir to combine, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes, until greens are well wilted.
5. If mixture is overly liquidly, cook uncovered to reduce. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Plate up a couple of timbales per person, surrounded by beans. And the sauce? I just opened one of these cans because, you know, it's a weeknight:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweet potato and black bean empanadas with pumpkin-seed crust

The vaguely greenish tint to the crust comes from the incorporation of pepitas (raw, shelled pumpkin seeds) into the dough.

Empanada Dough
1/2 c. pepitas (raw, please)
2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, cold
1/3 c. ice water, plus more if necessary
1 TBSP vinegar
1 egg

One medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
A few chard stems, cut into small chunks (optional)
Cumin seeds
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can), well rinsed

First, make the dough:

1. Combine the pepitas with 1/2 c. flour in a food processor and whiz up good until pepitas are ground into breadcrumb consistency. Add the remainder of the flour and the salt and pulse briefly to mix.
2. Add butter, cut into small chunks, and pulse a couple of times to roughly incorporate (you should still have some decent-sized pieces of butter).
3. Combine ice water, vinegar, and egg, and beat with a fork. Turn on processor and pour the water-vinegar-egg mixture in a slow steady stream. Pulse until dough comes together in a ball, adding a few drops more ice water if necessary.
4. Remove dough from processor, press into a disk, wrap in cling wrap and put in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Now, make the topping:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potato chunks, and pieces of chard stem if you're using it, together with enough oil to coat lightly in a baking pan. Sprinkle with cumin seeds, salt and pepper, and stir again.
2. Once oven is heated, place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
3. Remove from oven, toss with black beans, and season to taste with more salt & pepper. Turn down your oven to 375 if your dough is close to being ready.

Here are the sweet potatoes and chard before going into the oven — very festive looking, no?

Once dough has chilled for at least an hour, remove from refrigerator. Divide dough into eight pieces, and, working one at a time (and keeping the rest loosely wrapped in cling wrap and ideally in the fridge), roll out into a circle (or vaguely circular shape), about 8-9" in diameter. Place one-eighth of filling on one side of the dough, fold the other half over to make a half-moon shape, seal edges by crimping with a fork. Repeat for remaining dough.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until a little browned and flaky-looking.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Spicy avacado sandwich with kumquats

Take some thick slices of avacado, and toss with a splash of orange juice, a good shot of hot sauce, and a sprinkle of salt. Layer on toasted whole-wheat bread, then top with thinly sliced kumquats.