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Miscellaneous Cooking

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A version of this appears almost everywhere and the one I originally saw was in The Way to Cook, by our beloved reine de cuisine, Julia Child. Julia originally called for zabaglione sauce and a last minute flaming of brandy or rum. I prefer a traditional hard sauce. You can make the pudding a week ahead and re-steam or microwave before serving. I offer it in small portions in miniature glass crème caramel molds or crystal stemware. The French gave us Buche Noel, but we can thank the Brits for steamed puddings. This can be made a week ahead and needs 1-2 hours steaming before serving or microwave before serving. A tin pudding mold can be found in kitchen shops or you can get an old-fashioned pudding mold at Golda's Kitchen in tin http://www.goldaskitchen.com/merchant.ihtml?pid=4662&step=4 (but Golda's has other choices as well). You can also use a 3-4 quart ceramic bowl. I had my first steamed pudding at a Chanukah party, years ago, hosted by my mom’s (still) best friend, Evelyn Ortenberg. It was the finale to a brisket and latkes meal! Since then, I have made it myself but it is also, in another guise, the famed steamed fruit pudding at Canada’s now-all-but-gone, Murray’s Restaurant chain. You can add dried cranberries or blueberries to this but frankly, I prefer it as old-fashioned as is and has been for centuries.

The classic sticky, gooey, delicious brown sugar pudding. A crusty top is broken into with an eager spoon...to get at all the goo inside. Serve with spoonfuls of delicious sticky toffee sauce.

Perfect for a dairy Chanukah supper

Take a cornbread base, add El Paso style taco filling, top with Monterey Jack and serve with a side of salsa, avocado slices, and sour cream and diced chilies. Whoa Nellie. This is best served in small hunks of chili and cornbread base - on a gorgeous Santa Fe style ceramic plate or Fiesta ware, alongside a mixed green salad and ice-cold iced tea and lime wedges.

Pack your thermos or Mason Jar (what could be homier?) with this ambrosial elixir. You can fiddle with the juices you choose when making homemade iced tea. The key is to use room temperature spring water when making iced tea, as well as a Simple Syrup for a sweetened tea that is ‘cleanly’ sweet and delicious. Cranberry juice gives this a Nantucket zing but orange juice, apple, or raspberry are divine. You can also double-up the tea bags for ice tea concentrate and serve this over crushed ice, with a bit of Pelligrino in a wine glass or specialty tumbler. I add cinnamon sticks and for real tartness, some citric acid (but lemon juice is fine).

Most cream soups begin the same way. Simmered vegetables go into a chicken or  vegetable or water stock. This is then amalgamated with a cream base, usually made with a classic flour-butter roux, to which milk and cream is added. The soup is then seasoned, the softened vegetables and creamy broth get pureed, and voila: cream soup in any flavor you choose. You can play around with the herbs and spices but mostly, this is the sort of recipe that suits whatever vegetable you prefer or what the market or season offers.  For spring, of course asparagus is my choice. It is absolutely lovely with fresh herbs, a touch of lemon, black pepper and fleurs de sel (salt). Once you get this soup down pat, it works with whatever vegetables you like.

This is a lusty world-beat chicken that is punchy with great taste  - you will love the intense flavor of cumin, lime and orange juice, and cilantro, grilled or oven roasted to perfection. It is perfect for waking up a tired palate and a once weekly repetoire chickenk dish. Add saffron rice, black bean salsa and a salad and you have it made in the shade.

Latin sweet with a maple beat. This is ‘bless me/hate me’ recipe for it is the most unctuous, smooth, heavenly concoction you will ever have. Curses, it’s also easy so you are warned – decadence without sweat.  Instead of caramelized sugar, boiled maple syrup makes the bottom layer.  This makes one large flan or 8-10 ramekins or individual ones. What I liked about this recipe is that it takes the guess work out of caramelizing sugar. However, if you want to go that route, slow cook 1 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon water over the lowest possible heat until it caramelizes and then pour that into the prepared mold. This recipe also is the most definitive, using condensed milk, real milk, and cream in a triumpherate of custardly smoothness. Serve chilled with fresh raspberries and homemade, small shortbread cookies.

Some newspaper featured this in their food section sometime ago but I never could find the recipe again. I created it from memory and what I would want it to taste like and it turned out incredible. I served it at Rosh Hashanah and it was devoured in a way I've never seen (seriously - it's a casserole - but it was mobbed like it was the last edible on earth). It’s so good, people will forget whatever the main dish you’re serving. I serve this for Passover, or Rosh Hashanah, or Thanksgiving and it would be wonderful at Christmas or Easter too. Or daily. It has a secret ingredient that you might protest at but it is kosher and the transformational element in this memorable side dish. Oh, why Madras? It's the brand of curry powder I use. The shredded apples (btw) tend to 'melt' or cook into the hot potatoes as you are mashing it all up.

 

This doesn’t have an exciting name but it is the fastest, easiest way to flavor and nutrition I know off. It is essentially chop, dump and sauté and serve but it smells as exotic as if you’d been cooking over the proverbial hot stove for hours. You can add tofu if you like but if you serve it alongside a protein of some sort, that’s not necessary.

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