Day 5, Orange-Scented Rice Pudding

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 5

It’s a real joy to reach into the fridge for prepared ingredients and pull together a new dish in no time flat. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I made extra rice for the smoked turkey gumbo on Day 2 and was left with orange sugar syrup from yesterday’s candied orange peels, so I added just a few staples and came up with this quick, elegant rice pudding.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 5

The orange flavor wasn’t assertive at all, but the scent was divine. To send it over the top, add a little orange flower water.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 5

Garnish individual cups with a sprinkle of cinnamon, add a few candied orange peels, and you could serve this to guests who’d never know they were eating leftovers. Hah!

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 5

The tiny cups are perfect for portion control, but determined eaters don’t let them stand in the way. We absolutely demolished this and I hope you will, too.

recipe after the jump

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Day 4, Lemon Curd Tart

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I just love the bright zing of a citrus dessert, don’t you? Chocolate has its place — I’ve known and loved many chocolate desserts over the years — but citrus just seems fresher and lighter on the palate, if not in calories. This tart came about through a bit of trial and error, but I was very happy with the final product and hope you will be, too!

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

The fillings are quite sweet — apple-lemon curd topped with candied orange peel — so a buttery almond crust is the perfect foil. Elana’s Pantry is my go-to site for anything almond-flour related, and this simple, rich tart crust did not disappoint. Just be sure to make the base as thick as the sides. You can see my base was a bit too thin which caused a few problems when cutting.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

Instead of a straightforward lemon curd, I searched for something that would play well with apple, as my original idea was to top this with roasted apples (which fell apart, hence the candied orange peel) and found an interesting recipe for a Bramley apple-lemon curd. Bramleys are a variety of cooking apple popular in the UK, quite sour, and quite impossible to find in the states. Still, the recipe was intriguing enough that I substituted the tartest varieties of apple I could get my hands on and walked away with a sweet, delicate filling for the tart. Now that I think about it, I wonder if quince would be an acceptable substitute for Bramleys. Hmmm…anyone?

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

I have to admit I chose the candied orange peel for aesthetic reasons, as I did the amount shown in the photos, but apart from the difficulty it caused slicing the tart, it was a good choice. I’d advise topping the already-cut pieces with a few slivers of peel just before serving to make life a lot easier.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

But the absolute best part about this recipe? It’s a two- three- four-fer. Is that even a thing? The recipe makes a LOT of lemon curd, which is a wonderful homemade gift, assuming it can be refrigerated soon after you give it. Packaged with a little porcelain spoon and a sleeve of shortbread cookies, I promise it’ll bring a smile to your food-lover’s face. The orange peel recipe also yields a metric shit-ton, so give those as gifts, too, or make them even more special by dipping them in melted bittersweet chocolate first. LOVE. And then there’s the remaining orange syrup…stay tuned for that one.

recipe after the jump

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A GOOP apologist

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In the late 90s, when the first anti-Gwyneth Paltrow backlash was in the news gossip pages, one of my contrarian friends made the conscious decision to become a Paltrow supporter. If something negative came up (and working at a sports magazine with grizzled black-hearted former newspapermen, it did), he’d extol her virtues, her beauty, her cerebral screen presence — basically, anything he could do to get under a detractor’s skin.

Now that the second wave of backlash has come around, I think I might just find myself taking on his old role. Like many people, I signed up for the GOOP newsletter looking for a laugh, but something odd happened — I didn’t always delete them. In fact, I’ve kept nearly every recipe sent from the beginning. (I make no such claim about the lifestyle or shopping tips, but this is a food blog after all.) And let’s be honest — who among us wouldn’t want to be in her position, culinarily speaking? She’s buds with Batali hisownself and probably picked up a thing or two traveling through Spain with him. So when she speaks (and mentions him in the newsletter), I listen.

Last week’s menu featured a few dishes from a meal she had at his home — a meal to which Emeril was invited, btw. Yes, the eyes do roll, but damn, this meal sounded pretty fabulous. And it didn’t disappoint, even with a few changes made to the menu. The chicken dish pictured above is a Spanish affair, complete with thinly sliced onions, lemons and fennel sautéed together with white wine and pimenton, then roasted in the oven. As if all of that weren’t enough, the whole cloves of garlic that baked and softened in the broth were absolute heaven and force me to apologize here and now to anyone who happened to be next to me at the gym yesterday. (I confess to being agnostic about preserved lemons, so when I ran out a few months ago, I didn’t bother restocking. The pomegranate pips were another story. There were none to be found in the few markets I visited, so they were a necessary deletion, but sorely missed.)

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Blood oranges. Mmmm. They’re one of my favorite things about this time of year. We’re all just barely hanging in there, waiting for a Spring that seems to retreat the closer we march to it, but at least these beauties bring a dash of color and verve to the last gray days of winter.

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The fennel and blood orange salad recipe offered with the chicken was incredibly simple to make and tasted fresh, light and healthy. Because the oranges aren’t terribly acidic, I added a splash of white balsamic to the mix to brighten up the flavors a bit. I’d imagine some thinly sliced red onion would be very good in here, too.

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The flatbreads were a bit problematic. My kitchen was a little too cold, so the dough didn’t rise in time to have them with our meal. That’s ok, though. I made them later, and we snacked on them with agave nectar all afternoon; they worked just as well for dessert.

So I don’t know where you stand on GOOP, but I’d heartily recommend the newsletter if you’re looking for a few (mostly healthy) ideas for dinner. And if you don’t enjoy that, you can join in the schadenfreude, I suppose.

Weekend breakfasts, brought to you by Zabar’s

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A few weeks ago, I made a Dutch baby pancake for breakfast and learned from Audrey in the comments section that lingonberry jam is a terrific addition. So when I found myself at Zabar’s last Sunday (my first time!) after brunch with Gil’s family (another first!), I made sure to look around their jam section for a jar. I chose between three brands, which was such a luxury.

And Audrey was oh, so right — the jam was a perfect accent to the pancake. It melted into the butter and lemon juice and turned into a sweet & tart glaze and oh dear lord I really need another one right this second…

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Deep breath. And moving on…

Because I didn’t know when we’d be coming home or after how much walking last weekend, I didn’t want to get too loaded down at Zabar’s. It was tough, but we left with only a few precious items. In addition to the jam, I picked up a smallish container of truffle butter because I could almost taste the shirred eggs I’d make when I first saw it.

The butter did not disappoint. Especially when mixed with heavy cream.

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Don’t you just love blood oranges, by the way? I’ve been eating my weight in them this week while they’re still around. The color just sends me.

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