The holidays may be over, but the cold weather is sticking around, so calories still aren't counting, right? In Wintersweet, Tammy Donroe Inman offers a collection of sweet treats focused on seasonal ingredients and rich flavors. Perfect for those "not into fussy holiday baking and elaborate concoctions," this book relies on simplicity, and the recipes are neatly arranged by ingredients so you can easily whip up something after a quick peek into your cabinets.
Inman's recipe for rice pudding adds some bright, fruity notes to a simple, yet always satisfying classic and can be tweaked to fit your mood.
Persimmon, Pistachio and Coconut Rice Pudding Parfaits
Back in culinary school, I had to submit an original dish to be critiqued by my instructors on originality, flavor and presentation. Here’s what I came up with: coconut rice pudding served in a papaya “boat” fitted with a triangular “sail” made from pistachio-coconut meringue. It tasted great—but it looked like something a preschooler might have made. In this new-and-improved version, I use raw persimmons instead of papayas, and no silly sails. Parfait glasses or jelly jars allow you to see the pretty layers. The result is whimsical and comforting. This rice pudding recipe makes double what you’ll need for the parfaits, but then you’ll have plenty left over.
Makes 6 Parfaits
5 cups (1.25 L) whole milk
13½ ounces (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup (185 g) long-grain white rice (like basmati or jasmine)
1 cinnamon stick
2⁄3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
6 ripe Fuyu persimmons or 3 very ripe Hachiyas or wild persimmons (about 1½ pounds, 680 g)
¼ cup (30 g) chopped, shelled, salted pistachios
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, coconut milk, rice and cinnamon stick over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 to 20 minutes more, or until the pudding is thickened but still creamy and pourable (think risotto). Remove the cinnamon stick. Let the pudding cool to room temperature.
When ready to serve, slice the Fuyu persimmons in half along their equators. With a paring knife, score the flesh on the cut-side all the way down to the skin in parallel lines about 1/2-inch (1-cm) apart. Do the same in the other direction, so you get perpendicular lines. Now you have little cubes you can spoon out of the skins when assembling the parfaits. (If using Hachiyas or wild persimmons, you can simply scoop out the soft, jelly-like flesh, removing any seeds.)
In small parfait glasses or jelly jars, alternate layers of rice pudding and persimmon, ending with a layer of rice pudding. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Any leftover rice pudding can be eaten plain straight from the fridge.
Variation: Try this with pomegranate seeds or cubed kiwi, papaya or mango substituted for the persimmons.
"Southern hometown food is extraordinary,” says Kelly Alexander, writer of the Southern Living No Taste Like Home cookbook; and the BookPage staff here in Nashville definitely know how right she is. Well-written instructions combined with recipes and local lore from six different Southern regions make this collection a winner, regardless of what state you call home. During these winter months, comfort food is key, and Birmingham chef Shannon Gober's Not Yo' Mama's Mac 'N' Cheese recipe has a decadent, grown-up twist. Not Yo’ Mama’s Mac ’N’ Cheese
Makes 8 to 10 servings. Hands-On Time 1 hour. Total Time 1 hour, 20 min.
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Bake breadcrumbs in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until golden, stirring once after 21?2 minutes.
2. Cook prosciutto, in batches, in a lightly greased large skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until crisp. Drain on paper towels; crumble.
3. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add shallot, and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add wine, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven, and cook 1 minute.
5. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and next 4 ingredients; cook, whisking constantly, 12 to 14 minutes or until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove and discard bay leaf.
6. Place 4 cups (16 oz.) Cheddar cheese in a large heatproof bowl; reserve remaining Cheddar cheese for another use. Add Gouda and Parmesan cheeses to bowl.
7. Gradually pour white sauce over cheeses, whisking until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth.
8. Stir in pasta and prosciutto until blended. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with breadcrumbs. 9. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately.
Note: Don’t use preshredded cheese; it doesn’t melt as smoothly. You can shred the cheese and crisp the prosciutto up to 1 day ahead and chill. You can also toast the breadcrumbs ahead and store them in a zip-top plastic bag.
For No-Bake Mac ’N’ Cheese: Omit breadcrumbs. Prepare recipe as directed in Steps 2 through 6. Stir pasta, prosciutto, and cheeses into white sauce. Serve immediately. — Executive Chef Shannon Gober, John’s City Diner, Birmingham, Alabama.
Celebrity chef Scott Conant, creator of the critically acclaimed New York restaurant Scarpetta, has released The Scarpetta Cookbook. His dishes range from simple to quite complex, and many require some planning, but each one is worth the work for the end result. Conant calls the following recipe "a quintessential Scarpetta dish that has not lost its popularity over the years."
This is a quintessential Scarpetta dish that has not lost its popularity over the years. At the restaurant, waiters bring these mushrooms to the table in tiny saucepans. The lid to the pan is ceremoniously lifted, and you first experience the dish with what I call “the breathe,” that initial aromatic hit that puts the dish right in your head. The mushrooms and their cooking juices are then spooned over a waiting bowl of our creamy polenta.
Which wine? This rich dish needs a wine with intensity and weight to match the richness of the polenta and the woody nature of the mushrooms. A red from Umbria, like Caprai Montefalco Riserva or Sagrantino from Fattoria Scacciadiavoli, would fit the bill.
In a medium saucepan, heat the 6 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring, until the shallots just begin to color, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, thyme, and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 2 minutes. Add the Chicken Reduction, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half and has a saucy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the preserved truffles. If the mixture thickens too much—you want the mushrooms to be swimming in the sauce but there should be a mushroom in every bite—add 2 tablespoons of the Chicken Reduction to thin it out a bit. Stir in the chives and crushed red pepper.
Divide the Creamy Polenta among serving bowls. Top with the mushrooms and their cooking liquid and serve immediately.
Serves 8 to 10
In a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the cream and milk until warm, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and keep whisking until the liquid is very frothy (like a cappuccino) and hot. While still whisking, slowly rain the polenta into the pot. Continue to whisk until the granules swell, about 8 minutes. At this point, switch to a wooden spoon to stir the polenta. (It will get too thick for the whisk.) Keep stirring until the polenta has begun to thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until it evenly begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and the liquid has reduced, about 1½ hours. The polenta might look “done” sooner, but it does continue to soften, so be patient. During this time, a skin might form on the bottom of the pan, which is fine.
Just before serving, raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the butter and the cheese, and cook, stirring, until the butter is melted, then take the pot off the heat. If the polenta looks thin, don’t worry, as it will thicken as it cools.
Makes about 4 cups
Heat a convection oven to 425°F or a conventional oven to 450°F.
Rinse the chicken bones and pat them dry. Spread them out on two rimmed baking sheets in a single layer with a little room between the bones. Roast until golden brown, about 1 hour, flipping and turning the bones every 15 minutes or so.
In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rosemary and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the celery, onion, and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are well browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until some of the juices evaporate, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost all of it has evaporated. Add the chicken bones (with juices and drippings) to the stockpot, then add enough water to cover everything by about 2 inches (about 6 quarts). Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium to cook at a gentle simmer, stirring often to break up the bones and emulsify the fat, until the chicken is falling off the bones and the stock has a full flavor, 2 to 2½ hours.
Remove the chicken bones and strain the broth several times through a chinois or other fine-mesh strainer. If you want to make and use the reduction right away, spoon off any visible fat floating on top of the stock. Otherwise, chill the stock until the fat solidifies on top, and then scrape off and discard most of it.
Pour the defatted stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat slightly so the stock is not boiling so furiously. As the stock simmers, some of it will remain on the sides of the saucepan; use a spoon or ladle to pour some of the stock over this to deglaze it. (This will further increase the intensity of the flavor.) Continue simmering until the stock has darkened, thickened, and reduced to about 4 cups, about 30 minutes. The reduction can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Note: If you don’t want to make, or don’t have the time to make, this chicken reduction but want to prepare one of the dishes calling for it, experiment with some of the commercial chicken reductions out there. One that I have tried with success is called Glace de Poulet Gold, by More Than Gourmet brand. A classic reduced chicken stock, it can be reconstituted to get a flavorful chicken reduction that, while not exactly what I make, is exceedingly convenient. You can find it at most supermarkets as well as at specialty food markets.
'Tis the season to be fancypants. Our Top Pick in Cookbooks for December, Sweet by Valerie Gordon, is the ideal guide to the most gorgeous and delicious sweet treats of the season. Writes Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt, "Sophisticated, grown-up winners, all; you can’t go wrong."
Gelée sounds so much more sophisticated and elegant than the word “gelatin.” We all grew up with the packaged variety in those electric colors with flavors like orange and lime. Dispel that notion of gelatin; this version is far more delicious and impressive. Use your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine.
2. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup water and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
3. Add the gelatin to the sugar syrup, stirring until it has dissolved. Pour into a large pitcher. Pour the Champagne into the pitcher and stir with a long spoon.
4. Pour the gelée into glasses or small glass bowls and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, until set.
The gelée can be refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
Adding strawberries, sliced if large, and raspberries, is a delicious way to vary this recipe. Add the berries to the glasses before refrigerating the gelée. If you add berries, it is best to serve the gelées the day they are made, as the berries can darken and break down, and the effect will not be as pretty.
Happy Thanksgiving! You probably don't need any new recipes today, so enjoy your enormous meal, and in three days when you're ready to eat again, try this one from One Good Dish, David Tanis' minimalist cookbook.
A traditional bread-and-butter pudding made with milk, egg, sugar, and spice is for some the ultimate use of an old loaf. Like French toast, it is a frugal way to make a delicious dessert. I usually prefer a savory version with ham and cheese. It’s sort of like a quiche, but easier. Adding briefly cooked spinach or chard makes a lovely green version, or sprinkle in a handful of freshly chopped herbs along with the scallions.
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a shallow 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Spread the remaining butter thinly on the slices of baguette. Line the baking dish with half the baguette slices, butter side down.
3. Beat together the eggs and half-and-half, adding ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Grate in a little nutmeg, add the scallions, and whisk again. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pushing down to submerge the bread if necessary.
4. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the custard is set but still a bit wiggly and the top is nicely browned.
The season of gift books is upon us, and if you've got a foodie on your list, Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt recommends Daniel Boulud's Daniel: My French Cuisine above all other cookbooks this year. Now to find someone with enough culinary talents to take on recipes like this one . . .
Barley-Mustard Crust (makes extra)
For the Barley-Mustard Crust
Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt wasn't kidding when she said Suzanne Goin's gorgeous The A.O.C. Cookbook "is serious, challenging cooking, not dumbed-down, not simplified." But for the courageous cook, these recipes are worth it.
Combine the cream, milk, and fig leaves in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes, allowing the fig leaves to steep in the hot liquid. Strain the leaves from cream mixture, discard them, and return the liquid to the saucepan. Heat this cream mixture over medium heat to a scald, add the sugar, and stir until it dissolves. Slowly whisk the cream mixture into the bloomed gelatin until completely incorporated. Chill the cream mixture over an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until it’s at room temperature or slightly cool.
Prepare six 3-inch ring molds (or individual ramekins) by lightly brushing vegetable oil on the inside surfaces. Pour a small amount of the cream mixture into a bowl, and whisk in the crème fraîche or yogurt. Then whisk that thickened cream–crème-fraîche mixture back into the cream. (Tempering the cream this way creates a very smooth and silky panna cotta.) Pour the panna- cotta cream into the prepared molds, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, until set. When ready to serve, cut the remaining three fig leaves in half and place them on each of six dessert plates. Cut six 3-inch circles of walnut pain de Gênes and place one in the middle of each fig leaf. Center one walnut lace cookie atop each cake. Carefully unmold the panna cottas on top of each cake- cookie stack. (To unmold, gently press your finger down on the panna cotta close to the edge, pulling lightly inward, to the center, and then moving your finger along the perimeter of the panna cotta. When f ipped upside down, it should pop right out.) Trim the stems of the figs, and cut each one in half. Place one fig half on top and one fig half on either side of each panna cotta. Thinly shave the melon with a vegetable peeler; weave the slices around the plates, and place scoops of melon sorbet nestled among the fruit.
Best suited to armchair savoring, Daniel Boulud's Daniel: My French Cuisine is a gorgeous cookbook, our Top Pick in Cookbooks for November and one of the best gourmet gifts of the season. With recipes from Boulud’s famed New York restaurant, Daniel will inspire the most intrepid of cooks.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Oretta Zanini De Vita, a renowned Italian food historian and pasta authority, and Maureen B. Fant, an American who’s lived and cooked in Rome for more than 30 years, teamed up to create the ultimate Italian cookbook, Sauces & Shapes, which Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls "glorious."
Don't judge me, but I might spend the rest of the fall season eating this soup and only this soup. Yum!
As for what pasta to use, fresh quadrucci or dried cannolicchi are good, but pasta grattata (see below) is great. Spaghetti spezzati (broken spaghetti) hark back to the bad old days in Naples, when the fragments of pasta used to be scooped up from the bottom of the madia, where the pasta was stored, and tossed in the soup. Sister Attilia, Oretta’s childhood mentor in Bologna, used the odd cuttings she had put aside from making her famous tagliatelle.
For the soup:
Bring the broth to a boil in a 6-quart (6-liter) pot and add the onion mixture and potatoes. Lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely falling apart. Taste for salt. The amount will depend on how salty your broth is.
Add the pasta and cook al dente.
Transfer to a heated tureen, stir in the cheese, grind on some pepper, and serve piping hot.
To make pasta grattata (“grated pasta”): Make egg dough using your favorite recipe, but if possible use durum-wheat flour, and add a pinch of salt to the dough. When the dough has rested and is quite firm, cut it into manageable pieces and grate it like cheese on a large-holed cheese grater or the grating blade of the food processor.
Spread the pasta grattata on a kitchen towel to dry, about an hour for immediate use or 3–4 hours if you plan to store it.
With delicious recipes like this one, London restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's cookbook Ottolenghi is likely to stir up a "rapturous feeding frenzy" similar to the one inspired by their award-winning, trend-setting cookbook Jerusalem. Ottolenghi is our Top Pick in Cookbooks for October!
To prepare the cauliflower, trim off any leaves and use a small knife ?to divide the cauliflower into little florets. Add them to a large pan ?of boiling salted water and simmer for 15 minutes, until very soft. Drain into a colander.
While the cauliflower is cooking, put the flour, chopped parsley, garlic, shallots, eggs, spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk together well to make a batter. When the mixture is smooth and homogenous, add the warm cauliflower. Mix to break down the cauliflower into ?the batter.
Pour the sunflower oil into a wide pan to a depth of 2?3 inch / 1.5 cm and place over high heat. When it is very hot, carefully spoon in generous portions of the cauliflower mixture, 3 tablespoons per fritter. Take care with the hot oil! Space the fritters apart with a fish slicer, making sure they are not overcrowded. Fry in small batches, controlling the oil temperature so the fritters cook but don’t burn. ?They should take 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Remove from the pan and drain well on a few layers of paper towels. Serve with the sauce on the side.