La cocina Latina is more than just excellent Mexican food. As Maricel E. Presilla shows in Gran Cocina Latina, it's a wonderfully complex amalgam of Portugese and Spanish-speaking countries' cooking customs, from Argentina and Cuba to Mexico and many islands in the Caribbean. Read more in our November cooking column!
When I think Latin American desserts, I think flan, and this one looks amazing.
This is a seductive flan with the texture of a creamy cheesecake and the aroma of fresh oranges and orange blossoms. I once made it for a friend who liked it so much I decided to serve it at my restaurants. The key flavoring is Venezuelan Santa Teresa Rhum Orange, an artful orange rum liqueur that gives the dessert flavor and depth. You can use other orange liqueurs, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier, but try adding a tablespoon or two of a good aged rum as well. It does wonders for the flavor.
Place the whole milk and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the black seeds into the milk, and add the bean; or add the vanilla extract. Add the cinnamon, star anise, and orange peel and bring the milk barely to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Strain and discard the solids.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the cream cheese, egg yolks, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon while adding the condensed milk until smooth and well integrated. Add the cooled steeped milk, ¼ cup liqueur, and the orange blossom water and stir gently until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the caramelized mold. Place the baking pan on the middle oven rack. Set the mold in the baking pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides. Bake until just until set, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
While the flan is cooling, place the orange juice, the remaining 1 cup sugar, and the slivered orange peel in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced almost by half. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup liqueur and continue simmering for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Chill the flan in the refrigerator, in the pan, for at least 3 hours before serving. Unmold onto a decorative platter and garnish with orange slices. Pour the sauce into a decorative bowl and bring to the table with the flan.
Happy Thanksgiving, readers! Our Cookbook of the Month, naturally, is Sam Sifton's "charming, absolutely essential manual," Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well.
If, by chance, your preparations aren't going very well—or if you simply need a great last-minute recipe for cranberry sauce—here's a little help from Sam Sifton.
Science! Sometimes it’s helpful. So is spice. Some like a clove or two added to their cranberry sauce. (I am not one of them.) Others, a whisper of ginger and a small handful of nuts, for texture. Of this, I approve.
2. Cook until sugar is entirely melted and cranberries begin to burst in the heat, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir again, add zest, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes longer, turn off heat, cover pan, and allow to cool.
3. Put cranberry mixture in a serving bowl, cover, and place in refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours, or until you need it.
Cooking in November means turkey . . . but this year, it also means Turkey, the country! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has taken us for a spin around the world with her November column, and with Leanne Kitchen's cookbook Turkey, "she offers an elegant cook’s tour of Turkey’s seven geographic regions, where Mediterranean, Slavic and Middle Eastern influences mingle and where courtly Ottoman dishes share the Turkish table with more humble, hearty peasant fare."
All T/turkey, all the time!
Celeriac, orange and walnut salad
Combine the orange juice and orange zest in a large bowl. Cut the celeriac in half lengthwise, finely slice, then cut into very fine matchsticks, adding them to the orange juice mixture in the bowl as you go to prevent them from browning — you may need to add a little more juice to coat the celeriac but take care not to add too much or the dressing will be too thin. Add the garlic and walnuts, then season with salt and toss well to combine. Just before serving fold in the orange slices.
Preheat a grill or griddle pan to medium-high. Drain the fish and thread onto the soaked skewers, brush with the remaining oil and cook the fish, turning often for about 5 minutes, or until just cooked through but still a little pink in the middle. Serve immediately with the salad.
Our October Cookbook of the Month is My Beverly Hills Kitchen by Alex Hitz! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt shares why this Southern cookbook, in a sea of Southern cookbooks, really stands out:
"It’s Southern food on Alex’s terms, revived, revamped and revved up, grand old plantation recipes (plus a few newer creations) prepared to foodie-pleasing, haute cuisine specs."
yield: 6 to 8 servings
Combine the pumpkin, eggs, yolks, heavy cream, ginger, salt, black pepper, and sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dishes and assemble a bain- marie.
Top the pumpkin mixture evenly with the crumbled Roquefort and then the roasted pecans.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until barely still trembling; bake for 5-10 minutes, less time if you will reheat it the next day.
Serve warm, garnished with the chives and cre?me frai?che.
Assembling a bain marie
Note: it sounds fancy, but it’s very easy, and makes such a difference in cooking perfect custards, that you owe it to yourself to learn how. Place a souffle? dish into a deep roasting pan, and pour boiling water into the sides of the pan, so the water comes about a quarter of the way up the sides of the souffle? dish. Be very careful when you put the bain marie in the oven so you don’t burn yourself!
Melissa d'Arabian, host of the Food Network’s popular “Ten Dollar Dinners,” has "taken a tough, practical stand on savvy shopping for delicious, $10 dinners for four" in her new cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners. It's all about using ingredients wisely—gives new meaning to the term "brain food"!
Cooking time: 10 minutes
2) Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring often, until they are browned, about 5 minutes.
4) Add the capers and then stir in the butter until it is melted and the sauce comes together. Turn off the heat and pour over the chicken before serving.
The recipes in David Venable's debut cookbook, In the Kitchen with David, promise to "warm your heart, stir your soul, and happily fill your stomach." Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt found it to be "warm, chatty" and defined by its devotion to comfort.
According to the publisher, this is David's all-time favorite, and he serves it at every Thanksgiving.
My ultimate macaroni and cheese
While the pasta is cooking, heat the half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium heat. Just before the mixture starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in 2 cups of the warm half-and-half. (This will keep the eggs from scrambling.)
Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir 1 cup of the Cheddar, all the mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the milk into the saucepan. Heat the saucepan on medium-low heat to help melt the cheese. Whisk in the mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Do not let the mixture boil.
Toss the cooked pasta and cheese sauce together and then pour into a 4-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle an even layer of crumbled bacon on top and bake for 10 minutes more.
Cheap meals don't have to consist of Easy Mac and fast food. As proven by Melissa d'Arabian's cookbook, Ten Dollar Dinners, it's possible for a family of four to eat inexpensive, savvy meals.
Writes cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "She’s gathered all her spending-with-a-purpose strategies for supermarket shopping (smart splurges included), tips for stretching expensive ingredients, budget entertaining and pantry management, as well as 140 tantalizing recipes."
for the salad
2) To make the vinaigrette: Pour the vinegar into a large bowl; add the sugar, onion, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes and then whisk in the olive oil. Add the arugula, toss to combine, and transfer to a large platter. Arrange the vegetables on top of the greens and serve.
There are plenty of vegetarian cookbooks out there, but Vegetarian Cooking: At Home with The Culinary Institute of America stands at the top of the list! Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt writes, "This prestigious culinary academy’s take on making meatless meals at home expertly covers all the bases—equipment, ingredients, techniques and, most importantly, detailed instructions. Whether you’re a full-fledged veg or just want to decrease the amount of meat you consume, you’ll find a full array of delicious dishes."
In this book—and this recipe—health and big flavor go hand-in-hand.
Makes 4 servings
3. Garnish with additional cherries and pecans, if desired.
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls The Mexican Slow Cooker "mother’s little helper" for its easy translation of Mexican dishes to slow cooker prep. She also calls it the Cookbook of the Month, and with delicious recipes like this one, it's easy to see why.
While the chiles soak, line the skillet with a piece of aluminum foil. Add the tomatillos to the skillet and roast over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred in spots and softened. Remove the tomatillos from the skillet.
In a blender, combine the chiles and their soaking liquid, the tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, and garlic and puree until very smooth. (For a smoother texture, you can press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, if you like.) Transfer the puree to a 5-quart slow cooker. Add the carrot, chicken, salt, broth, and water and stir. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender.
While the chicken is cooking, cut the tortillas in half, then cut the halves into strips 1/4 inch wide (or cut them into small squares.) Heat the oil in a small skillet and fry the tortillas until crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and discard the skin and bones. Shred or dice the chicken into 1-inch pieces and return to the broth. Add the cilantro. Heat through, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, divide the fried tortilla pieces among the serving bowls and ladle the hot soup over them, including some of the chicken in each bowl. Garnish with a few pieces of avocado and serve very hot with the lime wedges on the side.
American chef Adam Perry Lang takes BBQ to a whole new level in his cookbook, Charred & Scruffed. This book isn't for grilling beginners, but for those who love to cook with fire, it's a "new BBQ bible, with chapter and verse on breakthrough techniques, superlative seasonings and innovative recipes."
Butter beans are just another name for lima beans, especially in the South. But I tend to think more sensually, and I have always felt that when they are cooked just right, these beans achieve a state of melty smoothness that is best described by the word “buttery.” In the process of cooking, they throw off starch—just like Arborio rice does in risotto. The result is velvety creaminess. My recommendation for these beans is “Serve with anything,” because they go with everything. But I could also say, “Serve with nothing else,” because they are satisfying all by themselves and quite irresistible when you take them from the fire—steaming, bubbling, and fragrant.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until it sizzles when a piece of bacon is added. Add the rest of the bacon, the shallots, crushed garlic, and sage and cook, stirring, until the shallots are just translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the beans, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over high heat until very hot. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the grated garlic and oregano and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated and the tomatoes are crackling.
Stir the tomatoes into the bean mixture, along with the prosciutto fat. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a 2-quart casserole or baking dish.
Stir the parsley into the beans, adjust the acidity with white wine vinegar as necessary, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Serve, or keep warm in a low oven until ready to serve.