Monday, June 26, 2006

Ashley: Gevulde Koek

I decided to try to get caught up on some of my backlog of recipes this weekend. Steve and I hosted our first small dinner party on Saturday and decided on a Thai-ish menu. I thought the little almond cookies would go great with the mango sorbet that I had planned.

My first attempt at the dough yielded a crumbly mess. I think my biggest mistake was using room temp butter. For some reason when I looked at the recipe and it said cream sugar and butter I thought the butter should be at room temp. So, Steve enjoyed eating the dough from that batch.

"Take 2" - I decided to approach the dough as I do pie crust. I used cold ingredients and combined everything in the food processor. I also added just about a Tbs of cold water. I was panicked that the dough would still be crumbly. Next time I would try it without the water. The dough from this round turned out fabulous. I chilled it for about 30 min and it was very easy to roll and cut. I did chill the dough slightly before I popped them into the oven based on Elaine and Jer's advice.

My almond paste was a touch runny and I don't think I put enough stuffing in each little cookie. Nonetheless, the end results were cute delicious cookies!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Recipe #10: Kofte with Warm Eggplant Salad

I've been wanting to fix something out of a new Paula Wolfert cookbook that I picked up at one of the used bookstores here in Seattle. She specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine which is not something that I fix much of normally. This recipe is from "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean" and it's suppose to be a great summer dish.

3/4 lbs lean ground lamb or beef
3 T chopped parsley
1 Large clove garlic peeled and crushed
3/4 T Turkish baharat (see recipe below)
salt and pepper
pinch of Near East or Aleppo pepper
2 t flour
2 T soda water

Warm Eggplant Salad:
1-2 Eggplants
Juice of 1 lemon
3 med vine ripened tomatoes
1-2 t slivered med-hot green chili
3 T slivered Italian green frying or green bell pepper
salt and pepper and sugar to taste
3 t fresh lemon juice
2 T slivered white onions

1 1/2 t unsalted butter
1/4 t Near East or Aleppo pepper

Warm pita bread

In mixing bowl combine all kofte ingredients and knead until smooth and blended. Divid in 4 parts.

Eggplant salad:
1. Prick eggplants several times and grill them over coals until they collapse - about 30 min. I think you could also roast in oven with olive oil for 30 min.
2. Dip immediately in cold water then peel away skin and discard stem.
3. Soak eggplant in 1 C water mixed with lemon juice for 15 min.
4. Drain the eggplants and squeeze the flesh to express all moisture and any bitter juices. Cut the flesh with a fork, spoon or potato masher.
5. Broil or grill the tomatoes. Peel, seed and crush them draining of any excess liquid.
6. Combine tomatoes with eggplant, slivered chili and green pepper, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice and parsley. Cover and keep at room temp for up to 2 hours.
7. One hour before serving time, light a grill. Mold the kofte onto skewers and grill until firm, turning once.
8. Rub the onions with salt and let stand a few minutes. Rinse and drain. Fold into the eggplant mixture and set over low heat until just warm.
9. To make the flourish: Remove the kofte from the grill. Gently reheat the eggplant salad on top of the stove. Slip kofte off skewers into the warm salad. Immediately heat the butter in a small pan. Add the pepper , let the butter sizzle, swirl once and drizzle over the dish. Serve at once with warm pita.

Turkish Baharat:
Makes 2 T
Handful of sprigs of summer savory
1 T pickling spice
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1/2 t dried mint
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t ground black pepper

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm back!

After the long road trip, unloading 200+ boxes and coordinating just a ton of logistics....I'm back to you guys and all these recipes. Man am I looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I have some recipes that I need to catch up on....and I'll try to get to them ASAP. I'm gearing up to post Recipe #10 but before I do that I thought I'd post an interesting thing that I've come across at the markets....Garlic Spears!

My first bunch was a little yummier than the second...but they are a nice change. I don't know if you guys have ever seen or fixed them before. They are supposedly available for only a short season. It's suggested to fix them as you would asparagus...grilled, roasted or sauteed. I roasted mine with just olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. I think they need a little more time than asparagus. Very mild garlic taste with the texture of asparagus....tasty to accompany those Copper River Salmon that we've been fixing!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Jer: Gevulde Koek

I knew I would love these cookies when Kate first posted them as I adore any type of sweet with almond as well as any variation of the butter cookie. Kate’s photo was so gorgeous that I tried extra hard to make these look nice – chilling them ahead of time so the dough wasn’t too soft to work with, etc. But when it was chilled too long it was too hard to work with and I was eager to get them in the oven as we had Nelson and one of his oldest friends Ian coming over for dinner. Upon pulling them out of the oven, I despaired that they were ugly and cracked and nothing like Kate’s wonderful photo. But the guys told me I was crazy and didn’t understand why I thought they weren’t good looking. Ian proclaimed they looked like artisinal cookies and I just shrugged knowing they were just trying to make me feel better.

Alas, they were delicious – both out of the oven and after an hour of cooling (half of them were gone before we sat down for dinner). They reminded me and Nelson of the Chinese almond cookie and Pete ooohed with delight when he realized there was an almond paste filling (he is a devout fan of the almond torte below). So a huge hit all around and they were all gone by the end of the night, but I was so bummed by how they looked. They were beautiful until the last step of filling and putting the top and bottom parts together. I couldn’t get the sides to “stick” without making them look like they were put together by an amateur. Kate, how did you put your two halves together and get them to meld without ruining the integrity of the cookies sides. I used almond meal for the filling instead of grinding fresh almonds. The consistency of my paste was much thinner than Kate’s in her photo so I popped it into the freezer for 30 minutes or so to thicken up.

PS, here is a recipe for an almond torte that we make pretty religiously in this house. It if from a book called “Cooking for Mr. Latte” written by a food editor at the New York Times. It is a fun and light read filled with great recipes. This torte truly gets better day after day in the refrigerator so after it’s cooled, put it in an air-tight container and snack on it throughout the week. For company, I sometimes sprinkle with powdered sugar, or dollop with fresh whipped cream and serve with fresh berries. It is magnificent with tea..

Almond Torte

1 ½ C sugar
½ t salt
2 C flour
2 sticks butter
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 t baking soda
8 oz almond paste (not marzipan but paste usually found in an 8 oz tube)
4 egg yolks
1 t almond extract

Oven to 350. Butter two smaller cake rounds (the ones where you can pop off the sides and separate the sides from the bottom). Mix sour cream and baking soda and set aside. Cream butter and sugar well, add almond paste in small pieces, slowly. Beat for 8 minutes. Beat in yolks one at a time, add almond extract and sour cream mixture. Gradually mix in flour and salt. Put into the two pans (we like halving them into two smaller pans as we like the torte thin as the exterior is delicious and so the thinner the torte the more exterior there is for every bite). Bake until top is browned (~30-40 minutes). You do want to overcook it. Remove from oven and cool (the center may fall or crack when it cools which is not a big deal and gives it a nice texture). Put in air-tight container and refrigerate until serving. Remove an hour or so from icebox if serving for company.