Thursday, March 24, 2011

purim for the aged

I only made one kind of hamantaschen this year - prune. It's not because prune is my favorite filling, although I do really love it. The sad truth is that I thought it might be a wise choice to counteract the "bagel jam", as J-Cat calls it. Bagel Jam is the digestive situation that arises when you buy a dozen bagels and only two people live in your house, so rather than actually cooking a meal you just keep eating bagels all weekend. I don't think I need to elaborate.

I'm happy to report that it seems my prune theory may have legs. I made the hamantaschen on Sunday evening - after about 18 hours of bagels - and by Monday morning I no longer felt like I was going to splode. You know you have entered middle age when you start planning your desserts around your digestive system. All foods must serve a double duty. It's a sad state of affairs. Recipe after the jump:


For the dough:
(From the recipe by Shmil Holland, NY Times, March 15, 2011)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature, in small pieces
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
Dash of salt
1 large egg, beaten, for the glaze

Put the confectioners’ sugar and the egg yolks in a food processor and blend. Add butter and lemon zest and process to blend. Gradually add the flour and the salt, pulsing until it forms a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

For the prune filling:
(From no particular recipe)
2 cups pitted prunes
1/2 cup orange juice
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine all filling ingredients in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a low boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer until the prunes are very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the ingredients into a smooth paste.

Assemble the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut 3-inch circles. Put a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each, and press up the sides to form triangles. Brush the tops with beaten egg.

Bake until golden and dough is delicately firm all the way through, about 15 minutes. If trays are on different racks, switch them after about 10 minutes.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011


Where have I been?! It's been a crazy month. Exciting and stressful and rather tiring. And I haven't been doing much cooking. But it was definitely time to get back in the kitchen, and what better way than cooking some Sunday brunch for mom and brother #2 and sissy and my new baby niece who can't actually eat food yet but should be very familiar with the smells of sauteed leeks by the time she can.

Brunch is a meal that I admit I have not made much of in my life. This is because I am not generally the type of person who wants to wake up in the morning anything. Especially on the weekend. From Monday through Friday my alarm goes off and I roll over and hit snooze and groan and snuggle my Opaw closer and scratch behind her ears while she purrs. I curse the moment the alarm goes off again and I actually have to get up. And I promise my kitty that come Saturday I will stay in bed and scratch her ears for much much longer.

But this morning I had thoughts of leeks and goat cheese in a rich, smooth quiche. And despite the fact that we lost an hour on this damned Sunday morning, I dragged my ass up and made some pie crust, and got everything else prepped while it chilled. It was extremely worth it. WORTH IT. Best. Quiche. Ever. Recipe after the jump:


2 medium leeks, white part only, washed thoroughly and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half & half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
1 par-baked pie crust (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saute pan, melt butter and saute leeks over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. While the leeks are cooking, combine the remaining filling ingredients, minus the goat cheese. When the pie crust is par-baked until light golden brown, remove from the oven and spread the leeks in the bottom of the crust. Crumble the goat cheese over the leeks. Sprinkle the chives over the cheese. Place the crust on the center rack of the heated oven. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the shell. Bake the quiche for 30-35 minutes until the top is light brown and a knife inserted one inch from the edge comes out clean. The center should be just set but still slightly jiggly.

Makes crust for 9-inch single crust pie.

1 1/4 all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice
4 tablespoons cold leaf lard, cut into small pieces
2-5 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together.

Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking.

To par-bake, lightly spray one side of foil with cooking spray and line the crust with the foil. Fill with pie weights, dry beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes until lightly brown on the edges.

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