Monday, March 26, 2012

Food Adventure: Quatayef

So. Remember that Date Cake? Well, for the same event, I also made these "Arabic Pancakes". These are a traditional dessert served for Ramadan. Never having used rose water before, I did have to track some down at the local import store. It definitely has a unique flavor (sort of perfume-y, as you might imagine) that evoked strong love/hate reactions from just about everyone that tried it. For being such a unique flavor, I found that I actually really liked it and would love to make these again! I found the recipe here and an alternate (that uses nuts and orange water) here. Now before you get completely nerved out by the long directions, keep in mind that it's a three-part recipe: the pancake batter (which is, surprisingly, a yeast dough), the cheese filling, and the rose water syrup. The rest is mostly assembling. So it's not a difficult recipe, but it is somewhat time-consuming, which you may want to keep in mind if you want to try it yourself. :D (And, if you do, please invite me over...)

The yummy ricotta filling:

Boiling up the rose water syrup. (One note on the syrup: I don't know what's traditional, obviously, but I would recommend halving the syrup portion of the recipe. Because there was A LOT left after I thoroughly drenched the pancakes... Just sayin'.)

Mmmmm. (And, yes, I do believe that IS "The Historian" open on the counter there...)

And I was so sad that I didn't get a shot of the finished Quatayef on the pretty silver platter! :( Ah, well. Guess it will give me an excuse to make them again.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Food Adventure: Fresh Fruit and Cream Tart

So, when you ask your 5-year-old princess what dessert she'd like to take to Abuela's house for Sunday dinner, be prepared for a LOT of work. ;D This tart recipe is from my old standby "Better Homes and Gardens" Cookbook, and while it really was kind of a lot of work, it was also delicious. (Not to mention pretty, right?)

The Mommy tart and the Isabel tart together! (And big thanks to my sister Abby, whose gift of tiny IKEA bakeware hasn't ever gone out of style at our house!)

Isabel's tart, which she very proudly decorated herself. :D

For the Rich Tart Pastry:
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C cold butter
2 beaten egg yolks
1 T ice water

In a medium bowl stir together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until pieces are pea-size. In a small bowl, stir together egg yolks and ice water. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture. Using your fingers, gently knead the dough just until a ball forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
On a floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough. Roll dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Press pastry into fluted sides of tart pan. (Or fake the whole "tart pan" thing like I did and use a 9-inch cake round, instead...) Prick bottom and sides of pastry. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5-6 minutes more or until pastry shell is golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile prepare Pastry Cream...

For the Pastry Cream:
1/2 C sugar
4 t cornstarch
1/4 t salt
2 C half-and-half (I used cream)
4 beaten egg yolks (...Yeah. Feel free to make an Angel Food Cake when you're done with all the egg whites you'll have left over...)
1 t vanilla

In a medium heavy saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Gradually stir half of the hot mixture into egg yolks. Return all of the mixture to saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat. Strain into a bowl. (And, yes, you can safely assume I almost always skip a step like that last one. The tart was still delicious.) Stir in vanilla. Place bowl of pastry cream in a bowl of ice water; chill for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator until serving time; DO NOT STIR.

Once the Pastry is cooled, spoon in your chilled Pastry Cream. Arrange desired fresh fruit on top. Tart can be assembled and chilled up to 4 hours before serving. We also added an easy glaze (roughly 1/3 C raspberry or strawberry jam and 1 T honey warmed in a small saucepan), but feel free to just take a break at this point, if you're not up for it. ;D

Food Adventure: Date Cake

So, lately I've been wanting to branch out a little in the food department. At a book club I attend, we'd decided to do Middle Eastern Food in February. Not knowing ANYTHING about Middle Eastern Food, I relied heavily on google, and came up with this. The cake would be a good coffee cake, and Asher said it was "DELICIOUS!", but I felt like the flavor was a lot like a recipe I've already got and was disappointed by the lack of "date" taste in the cake. But, hey. You win some, you lose some on a food adventure, right?

Boiling the dates...

Mixing them in...

And the finished cake!

I added a powdered sugar stencil of a dragon (NOT traditional... ;D ) in honor of the book we read: The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

WARNING: Food adventures are not for the faint of heart...