Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie

Pumpkin kibbeh....note the kale filling
Kibbeh is usually a dish of minced meat mixed with bulgur and spices. Sometimes served raw, most often served cooked. It is a very popular dish in the middle east and is sometimes considered the national dish of Lebanon. In its most common form, it consists of minced lamb mixed with bulgur and spices, and is grilled, boiled, fried or baked. The shape, size and ingredients vary between different types of kibbeh and between the recipes that are traditional in different areas.  In the mountain area of Lebanon they make a Pumpkin Kibbeh.  I remember as a child my grandmother would make them into patties and fry them. We would stand close by, waiting for my grandmother to take them out of the pan and cool them. They were such a treat. My mother and I tried for years to duplicate my grandmothers recipe and finally....success! However, last year while I was browsing my favorite middle eastern blog  Taste of Beirut, I found a wonderful pumpkin Kibbeh that was posted by Joumana.   Although different than my grandmothers, it looked absolutely delicious!  I had to give it a try.  You can find her recipe here.  I also posted it below. Do yourself a favor and visit her very creative wonderful blog. Her site is full of interesting, healthy and delicious Middle Eastern food.  

Cooking the kale with chick peas and caramelized onions
Pumpkin and bulgur wheat mixed together with rest of ingredients 
Pumpkin mixture pressed into pan...layered with kale mixture...then topped with final layer of pumpkin mixture
baked and cut
Pumpkin Kibbeh Pie
1 pound of turnip greens or any other green I used kale
2 large onions, chopped, and divided in half
1 can of chick peas
3 tablespoons of sumac
1/3 cup of pine nuts
3.5 pounds pumpkin...equal to almost 2 pounds of cooked pumpkin...I used about 6 cups
1 1/2 cups of fine bulgur #1
2 slices of American-style white bread (or any soft bread)
2 eggs (optional)
Spices for the kibbeh: 2 teaspoons of Aleppo pepper (or paprika or chili powder),1 teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, salt, white pepper
clarified butter or olive oil or any other oil, as needed

Cook the pumpkin till soft (either in the oven or steam); peel, and mash the pumpkin flesh in a processor. Place in a large sieve and drain for several hours or overnight.

Make the filling: 
Steam the greens until soft and drain them well. Stir-fry the onions in some olive oil till caramelized. Add the drained can of chick peas and about one cup of caramelized onions to the greens in a bowl. Sprinkle with sumac and some white pepper, taste to adjust seasonings and set aside. (One can also add some pine nuts, previously roasted).
Take the drained pumpkin and place in a large bowl. Rinse the bulgur in a bowl a couple of times and let it sit till soft a couple of minutes. Drain the bulgur and press to remove all water from it. Add to the bowl with the pumpkin and the chopped onion.
Add the fresh breadcrumbs, the eggs, the spices and mix well. Taste to adjust the seasoning. 
Grease a 10X2 inch pan and place half the kibbeh batter all over the pan. Add the filling on top, using a plastic sheet to help spread it evenly. Cover with the other half of kibbeh, smoothing it out with a spatula.
Score the kibbeh with a knife, forming two diagonal lines. Decorate with pine nuts if you like and cover with a few knobs of butter or brush with some oil. Bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Orange Honey Christmas Braid

Orange Honey Christmas Braid
Well, we still have a few nights before the stockings will be hung, but the cookies are baked, the shopping is done, the cards have been mailed and the gifts are pretty much wrapped! So, today I made my Christmas Bread. This is a wonderful sweet dough recipe that my aunt had given me years ago. It is such a delicious addition to our Christmas morning breakfast. This recipe makes two loaves, so I send one to my son for their Christmas celebration. My aunt would make this bread every year at Christmas and at Easter she would make the same dough to make her Easter Bread. This is a basic sweet dough and can be used for several different breads. This bread is part of my family aunt was a great baker! She passed down so many wonderful recipes. They have now become part of the traditions I share with my family.  
The dough for this bread is pretty easy to make. It can also be made in a bread maker, which I sometimes do. I put all the ingredients into the machine and it does the initial work. I set it for dough and when it is done rising, I take it out of the bread maker and roll it. Whether you use a bread maker or not this is a delicious holiday bread. 
This Christmas Eve my daughter and her family will be with us, along with one of my sons. We will also be joined by other family members, gathering to share family stories, remembering those who won't be with us, eat wonderful food, and share the excitement of a child's joy at Christmas! 
As you hang your stockings this Christmas Eve, here's hoping Santa brings you everything you're wishing for.  And may a peaceful blessed Christmas be yours!  

Orange honey filling
The dough ready to roll
Ready for the oven
This beautiful bread will be enjoyed by my family Christmas morning
From my chaotic kitchen to yours Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays!

Christmas Bread Dough (Sweet Dough)
2 pkg. dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lukewarm milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 to 5 cups flour
1/2 cup butter. softened

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk, add salt and sugar. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and lemon rind. Add enough to make a soft dough. Work in the butter. Add more flour if needed. Knead dough on floured surface for 10 minutes or until it is shiny and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl turn the dough and cover the bowl with a towel. Place in a draft-free place to rise for 30 minutes or till doubled in bulk. Dough has risen enough if it does not spring back when fingers are poked into the center. Punch the dough down. Knead it briefly then continue with the Orange Honey Braid.

Orange Honey Braid
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup white raisins

2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons light cream
1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds

Set oven at 350〫Grease a large cookie sheet. Cut dough into two equal parts.  Roll each into a large square 1/4 inch thick. Cream the butter, honey, orange rind and cardamom together. Spread mixture evenly over dough. Scatter Walnuts and raisins over dough. Roll dough up loosely, jelly-roll style. Flatten out filled dough with a rolling pin to make it no more than 1 inch thick. Cut it into three equal strips. Braid the strips and pinch together to form a circle. Let rise till doubled. Brush with egg yolks mixed with cream. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday with Dorie...Potato Chip Tortilla

Potato Chip Tortilla
Well, as you can see by the title, I missed French Fridays this week. This has been a crazy month with all the Christmas preparation. My kitchen looked like someone had dropped the A bomb on it, due to all my baking. It was so bad, I couldn't find my glasses amongst the chaos. Yesterday I had no choice but to clean up the mess. I was hosting a Christmas party last night! I decided to make Dories Tortilla as an addition to my menu. The best part of this Tortilla was the ease of preparation. Because Dorie said it would make a great appetizer, I decided to serve it at my party. So yesterday afternoon I put this tortilla together...wonderfully easy! I still had scallions in my garden so I pulled out a bunch. I also used some of the fresh rosemary that's growing on my deck. I had everything ready to go and about 3pm I put it on the stove to cook. Dorie said it is best served at room temperature. Since my guests were arriving at about 7pm, I thought this would be a good time to get it done. It looked good but I needed to know weather or not to serve it to my guests. As you can see in the pictures...I swiped a little piece. I thought it was very good, although I think it could have used more seasonings. I went light on the salt because of the potato chips. The next time I make it I will add a little more spice... maybe more kick it up a notch. Other than that I thought it was delicious and more importantly my husband and my guests seemed to enjoy it! 
You can find this recipe in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table". You can see how other Doristas did here.

Garlic cloves, green onions, parsley, rosemary, cayenne red pepper and still could have used more of a kick!

The eggs and other ingredients whisked together
3 1/2 oz. crushed potato chips...the not so secret ingredient
Trying to hide the piece I tried
Ok, let's be passed the test

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flourless Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Perfect little lace cookies
I have always been a cookie baker, especially at Christmas. This is my season! My mother-in-law used to tease me about all the cookies I would bake. Every year, I had several cookies that routinely made it onto my cookie baking schedule. Family favorites! However, I would always add a few new choices each year. Therefore, some of my cookies would get rotated. That's what happened to my Oatmeal Lace cookies. When my kids were very young these cookies made it onto my list every year. Back then they were very hard to remove from the cookie sheet. I would almost always break half of them trying to get them off in one piece. Once they cooled...they were stuck but, if you tried to move them too soon they would stick to the spatula. I tried using foil, parchment, waxed paper...nothing worked consistently. However, these cookies were my son's favorite! So I would muddle through every year, despite the frustration. My son grew up, moved away and I stopped making the Oatmeal Lace Cookies. This year my son asked if I would send him a batch.  What could I do?  Of course I would! I searched through my recipes and found it tucked away in one of my many cookbooks.
A lot changes in 10 years, and now I have a SILPAT! What a baking difference! No sticking, no breaking, no crumbling,  just perfect little cookies every time! These very delicate, crispy lace cookies are almost more candy like than cookie. Similar to a toffee with oatmeal and coconut baked into them. This recipe says drop a 1/2  teaspoon of batter onto the cookie sheet. Be sure to follow the directions, they spread quite a bit so keep them small and give them room. Finally, get yourself a SILPAT if you don't have one...what a great invention!

These are almost more candy like...if I don't hide them my hubby will eat them all!
1/2 teaspoons of batter
They spread so give them room 
Ready to send to my son!
Perfect treat with tea or coffee

Flourless Oatmeal Lace Cookies
- 3 lg eggs
- 2 c sugar
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- 3/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 c shredded coconut
- 2 c uncooked rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with foil or baking parchment.
2. Beat the eggs, then add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. (Electric mixer is best for this.)
3. At low speed, stir in the melted butter, vanilla, salt, coconut, and oats.
4. Drop the dough by teaspoons 2 inches apart. (Do NOT use tablespoon, as these cookies really spread.) Bake about 10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Lift foil or parchment from pan and cool on rack until wafers can be easily removed.

From my very old edition of Joy of Cooking!

Monday, December 12, 2011

German Pfeffernusse Cookies

Delectable Pfeffernusse
Pfeffernusse are a traditional German Christmas cookie popular all over Central Europe.  They are rich with spicy flavors and keep well, when stored in airtight containers, for several weeks. Since my husband is Dutch, spice cookies are very much apart of our Christmas cookie baking. Pfeffernusse can be cut from a long roll of dough. They can also be rolled into very small balls and sometimes the dough is rolled out and cut with cookie cutters.  Although these cookies are called "pepper-nut" they do not always include pepper in the list of ingredients. However, many do include a dash to 11/2 teaspoons of black or white pepper. Spice cookies have been baked for centuries and besides pepper, the earliest recipes call  for cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Cloves are often used in Old World Christmas recipes because of their symbolism. They represents the aromatic gifts the Magi brought to the Christ Child.
When I first met my husband, my mother-in-law always had a package of Pfeffernusse in her house at Christmas. My first try at these cookies tasted nothing like these delectable cookies that were baked in the Pepperidge Farm bakery. In fact, they held no resemblance to any good spice cookie. They were hard and tasteless. I went on a search for the perfect Pfeffernusse. I don't know if I ever found the perfect Pfeffernusse but my recipe is a delicious addition to my cookie tray.

Mixing molasses, honey and shortening
dough ready for oven
My beautiful little Pfeffernusse 

So yummy!



1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup margarine
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons anise extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Stir together the molasses, honey, shortening, and margarine in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the eggs and anise extract.
2. Combine the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses mixture and stir until thoroughly combines. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Roll the dough into 1 inch size balls. Arrange on baking sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart.
4. Bake in preheated oven 10 to 15 minutes. Move to a rack to cool. Roll cooled cookies in confectioners' sugar.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food #27 Anne Willan-Clafoutis Limousin

One delicious and easy dessert!

This weeks one of 50 is Anne Willan. She is #27 on Gourmets list of the 50 Most Influential Women in Food. She was born in Newcastle, England in 1938, and is the founder of the prestigious Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne cooking school, in Burgundy France.  Anne was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who in Food and Beverage" in America in 1986.  She is an authority on French cooking, with more than 35 years of experience as a cooking teacher, cookbook author and food columnist. Her book "The Country Cooking of France" won two James Beard Foundation book awards in 2008. One for best international cookbook and one for best cookbook photography. Anne was also named by Bon Appetit magazine as Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2000. She was an associate editor of Gourmet magazine and food editor of the Washington Star before moving to Paris, where she started La Varenne cooking school.
I decided to make Anne's Clafoutis Limosin ( Cherry Batter Pudding ). I chose this because I love custard puddings and this has a custard base. I know cherries are out of season but when I saw this recipe I had to make it. I used canned tart cherries packed in water. I'm sure this would have been better with fresh cherries but this was really delicious. It was such a nice easy  dessert for a very crazy week of decorating and shopping. I will be putting this Clafoutis on my "goto" list for quick desserts. 

Place cherries into baking dish that has been buttered and sugered

Pour the batter over the cherries

Bake at 375〫for 1 hour

This is so luscious  

Cherry Batter Pudding
Clafoutis Limousin

Serves 6 to 8
  • 1 pound/450 grams tart cherries, rinsed and dried
  • Butter and sugar for the dish
  • 3 tablespoons/45 milliliters/1 1/2 fluid ounces kirsch or Cognac, for sprinkling
  • Confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling                                                                                                                Batter:
  • 1/4 cup/60 grams/2 ounces sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup/30 grams/1 ounce flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups/500 milliliters/16 fluid ounces milk
  • 1 1/2-quart/1.5-liter / 11/4-quart baking dish
Butter the baking dish, and sprinkle it with sugar, turning and tilting until the dish is evenly coated. Spread the cherries in the dish. For the batter, put the sugar in a medium bowl, add the eggs, and whisk until light and frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour and salt and stir just until smooth. Do not overbeat or the pudding will be tough. Stir in the milk. The cherries and batter can be prepared an hour or two before baking and kept covered at room temperature.
Heat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C/Gas 5. The batter may have separated slightly, so stir to mix it, and strain it over the cherries. Bake the pudding until browned and just set, 50 to 60 minutes.  Let it cool 5 to 10 minutes, then sprinkle it with the kirsch (the aroma from the alcohol is a treat in itself.) Dust it generously with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.
by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.

Thanks to Mary of One Perfect Bite for this wonderful challenge. These are the other bloggers who are also featuring the recipes of Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. Hope you'll check them out. They are all very talented ladies.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast 
Joanne - Eats Well With Others 
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey 
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney 

Jeanette - Healthy Living
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen 

Sue - The View from Great Island 
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds 
Amy - Beloved Green 
Linda A - There and Back Again 
Martha - Lines from Linderhof 
Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits 

Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Most Lovely Things

Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sambusik (Lebanese Nut Turnovers) #cookielove Blog Hop

Santa won't leave if you put these out with a glass of milk

One of my favorite Christmas cookies of all time are the nut turnovers (sambusik) my grandmother used to make. These were the only cookie I remember her baking.  My aunt told me recently, these were her signature cookie. She made them every Christmas for as long as I can remember. We would always wait with anticipation for her to start her baking.  My grandmother came to this country when she was 16 with an uncle, leaving behind her mother, father and 5 sisters. Full of hopes and dreams for a new and better life, she embarked on an adventure knowing she would probably never see her family again. She came with a bag of her belongings, a lace trimmed hankie from a dear friend, and all her mothers recipes burned into her memory. She lived with family in N.J. and a marriage was arraigned. With the help of her aunt that marriage never took place. Ever the independent strong minded woman, she met and married my grandfather while working in Thomas Edison's factory. While I was growing up my grandmother was the heartbeat of our family.  I am so lucky to have wonderful memories of her, and many of her recipes handed down from my mother.
These cookies are so delicious and are now part of my Christmas baking. They are flavored with mahleb, which is the pit of the sour cherry used in breads, cookies and baked goods in the Middle East, and orange blossom water.  You can find mahleb at Penzey's here. You can find orange blossom water in middle eastern grocery stores and online.

Mahleb and orange blossom water
I break off pieces of dough and pat into a round, then fill with a spoon of nut filling
Fold over
And crimp
These cookies will brown on the bottom but not so much on top
Roll in powdered sugar

And enjoy!
Lebanese Grandmothers cookie!

Sambusik (Lebanese Nut Turnovers)

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 lb. butter (melted)
1/2 Tablespoon mahleb (finely ground) I use an electric coffee grinder to grind the mahleb
1cup of milk

Confectionary sugar for rolling

2 cups coarsely ground walnuts
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1/2 cup sugar

In small bowl mix all ingredients for filling.

Mix all dry ingredients. Add melted butter and milk and knead thoroughly. Roll out and cut into rounds. Put a spoon of nut filling onto each round and fold dough over to form half moons. Bake at 350〫20 minuets. Bottoms will be browned. When cool roll cookie in confectionary sugar.

This post is part of a #cookielove Blog Hop...check out the fun!

Friday, December 2, 2011

FFWD Matafan (Fluffy mashed potato pancakes)

Delectable little pancakes...Matafan
Today is friday and it's time to share another Dorie Greenspan recipe. This month our first pick is for Matafan, a fluffy mashed potato pancake. I was thinking this morning of how French Fridays have broadened my horizons when it comes to cooking.  First, I have never heard of Matafan...second, I don't think I would have tried them if it wasn't a pick for this group. It just seemed like a lot of work for a batch of pancakes. Not so!! The most time consuming part of this recipe was the baking of the potatoes. You do have to beat egg whites but, it was worth the effort.
My husband wasn't feeling well last night so he went to bed early. I was in the middle of making the Matafan. I thought I would make a few to photograph and then refrigerate the batter....that was my plan...honestly! After I took my pictures, I decided to eat these cute little pancakes for my dinner. A little sour cream and they would be perfect! The first four were just a warm up. After eating 12 of them I decided to refrigerate the rest of the batter, so my husband could try some in the morning. I still can't believe I ate so many! These little gems were light and fluffy and so yummy! I couldn't help myself...honestly!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook "Around My French Table" and it has been posted here. If you don't own this book put it on your Christmas list, you will truly enjoy it!
Check out the others Dorie participants to see how they did here.

Ricing my potatoes
The batter
I can't believe I ate the whole thing
These are so worth the effort