Peter

 

For none other than fond memories of holidays past I ordered several 16 ounce cans of French Puree des Chataignes, a sweetened chestnut puree that is more popular in Europe than the US. Very delicious spread on toast, waffles, French toast, mixed with ricotta for cannolis, with ice cream or gelato. and especially for a “Mont Blanc,”. A Mont Blanc is a celebratory French desert with a meringue base topped with swirls of piped chestnut puree crowned off with with a wintry blizzard of whipped cream peaks.

Feeling not quite that ambitious for a Christmas Eve supper I settled on making a more modest traditional French chestnut puree soufflé dessert that is topped with shaved chocolate. Very simple to prepare and happily it was received with great delight.

Following that thread the following week I decided to make Nigela Lawson’s Chocolate Chestnut Cake for a New Year supper that was met with oohs and ahhs, The consensus was that while Nigela’s chocolate chestnut cake was of course deliciously decadent, it was the simpler traditional chestnut soufflé’s beguiling flavor is what  won everyone’s favor. 

So while the chestnut puree soufflé is not exactly a visual feast on the plate it is it’s deliciousness that triumphs .

Chestnut Puree Soufflé Dessert

 

Sweetened chestnut puree is readily available on Amazon.

Chestnut Puree Soufflé dessert

preheat the oven to 350 f /180 c

Generously butter a medium soufflé dish or spring form pan.

  • 16 ounces sweetened chestnut puree
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 1 tablespoon rum or brandy
  • shaved chocolate
  • powdered sugar

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.

Separate the eggs into separate mixing bowls and refrigerate bowl with the egg whites.

Whisk the egg yolks together with the chestnut puree until the mixture is thick and airy.

While continuing to whisk begin adding in small amounts of butter at a time while whisking until incorporated. Add the rum and whisk until combined and set aside.

Remove the egg whites from the refrigerator. Add a pinch of salt and using a whisk, or a hand held mixer, rapidly whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.

Then using a wide silicone spatula begin adding the egg whites, a generous dollop at a time to the chestnut puree mixture, gently fold in the whites in until they are incorporated before adding more egg whites. Continue until all of the whites are folded into the chestnut puree mixture. A few streaks of egg whites in the mixture are are fine.

Gently pour the batter into a buttered soufflé dish or spring form pan and place it gently in the center of the preheated oven.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the browning on the surface. If it’s browning too quickly open the oven door briefly and bake a little longer as needed.

Test by inserting a thin skewer gently into the center of the soufflé. If it comes out clean the soufflé is done

The soufflé will have puff up while baking but will fall once it transferred r to a rack to cool.

If you like add some shaved chocolate over the cooling surface of the soufflé.

A light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving is optional.

Bon appetite!

Today I want to share some of Wayne Thiebaud’s painterly confections which are as buoyant and beguiling as any baked creation you could ever possibly imagine!

Wayne Thieboud was a founding member of the Pop Art movement of the 60’s, along with Andy Warhol, Roy Licktanstein, Robert Rouschenberg, Jasper Johns, and others. His paintings stand apart and quietly occupy their own space. I like to think of him as the Morandi of pop art.

          Wayne Thiebaud died on Christmas day this past week  at 101 . 

 

As the winter equinox draws nigh more fortifying meals are going to be the order of the day for the winter months ahead. There are always those favorite tried and true hearty soups and robust stews to fall back on, but adding a little variety to your winter repertoire is sure to liven things up just when it’s needed t the most.

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Quiche usually conjures up thoughts of summery fresh herbs and vine ripe tomatoes, but putting a heartier wintery quiche on the table in the dead of winter will be one of those “aha” moments that is sure to please!

The recipe that follows is ripe for interpretation. Feel free to use what ever winter produce available and by all means include an assortment of herbs and spices to compliment your produce choices. I assure you It will be a lovely hearty meal that you can serve with nothing more than a winter salad with a zesty lemon garlic vinaigrette!

Winter Quiche

I have used a tradition pastry for this quiche, but If that seems like to much of a bother, by all means use a quick mashed potato crust instead,( recipe here) substituting acorn squash fort the potatoes in the quiche recipe that follows.

f Pastry shell  I recommend making it a day in advance so the dough is well chilled before rolling it out the following day.

Needed: a deep 10 or 11 inch pie dish.

  • 4 oz. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup of vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 2 ¾ cups unbleached all- purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup ice water

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the well chilled butter, shortening, and salt. Mix on low speed for 2 or 3 minutes until softened. Turn the speed up to medium and mix another 1 or 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula as needed.
Turn the speed down to low and start adding the flour in three batches while continuing to mix on low until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Then begin adding small amounts of water while continuing to mix. Add more water as needed until the dough begins to come together. Then continue adding very small amounts of water until the dough holds together, but do not over mix.

Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface and kneed until the dough holds together while forming it into a ball. Divide the dough in half and flatten both halves into discs about 1 inch thick. Wrap the discs tightly in cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, transfer a round of dough to a well floured wooden cutting board, or a pizza peel. Begin rolling out the dough slowly. As the dough warms it will soften and roll out easily into an 11or 12 inch circle. Make sure to toss flour under the dough as you work so it will move freely when you slide the pasty centered into the pie dish. Work the dough evenly up the sides of the pie dish. Then make a scalloped edge around the rim of the dish. Chill for 1 hour before b blind baking. Put the remaining round of dough in the freezer for later use.

Preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c

Lightly brush the interior and edges of the pie shell with with melted butter. and line the interior of the pie shell with parchment paper. Then fill the shell with pie weights, being sure to press them up against the sides of the dough to hold it in place as it bakes.

Blind bake the pastry shell for 25 minutes. Remove the parchment along with the pie weights and return the pie to the oven for another 10 minutes until just lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool.

Winter quiche filling:

  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (omit if using a potato crust
  •  use a large butternut squash as an alternate for potatoes,  peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾ inch slices on the diagonal
  • 1 large turnip, peeled and cubed
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms,  stems removed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, sliced
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, pits removed, and halved
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cups whole milk
  • 4 organic eggs
  • ½ ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmigiana cheese

Pre heat the oven to 350 f / 180 c

Fill a sauce pan with several cups of water fitted with a steam baske. Fill the steaming basket with the potatoes (or butternut squash), carrots, and turnips and cover with a lid. Place the pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and steam the vegetables until they are al dente. Promptly remove the pan from the heat. Remove the steam basket of vegetables and set aside to cool.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. When hot add the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the pancetta and saute until it is lightly browned. Remove the pancetta and set aside. Add the onions to the skillet and saute until wilted. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until they begin to give up their liquid and are lightly browned. Add the thyme and rosemary and continue sauteing while adding the vermouth and saute until the vermouth is reduced. Add the sun dried tomatoes and olives and toss until well combined.

Add the steamed vegetables and toss until all the ingredients are well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

When you are ready to bake the quiche spoon the sauteed vegetable mixture into the pasty shell and arrange evenly.

In a small bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, and nutmeg until combined. Pour the milk egg mixture over the top of the vegetable filling and jiggle until the egg mixture settles in evenly.

Add the feta, pushing it into the quiche filling. Scatter the parmigiana over the surface of the quiche and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the egg mixture is just set. Promptly transfer the quiche to a cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Serve while warm with a salad of choice.              Bon appetit !

 

 

Autumn’s brilliant colors blanketing the landscape is always a vivid reminder that time is flurrying by and the holidays are just around the corner. For cooks this means it is time for some careful planning that is key to seamless holiday entertaining. Baking cookies tops my list. It is always good idea to include old favorites that are sure please everyone, but I like to include a cookie that has a back story.

Pumpkins and pecans are both native to the Americas. They pair well, and are ideal for both sweet and savory holiday baking projects. I urge you to try these festive pumpkin pecan cookies with a caramel Kahlua glaze. They are sure to liven up your holiday entertaining!

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Caramel Kahlua Glaze

Makes 24 cookies

preheat oven to 350 f / 180 c

Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted, and chopped
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Caramel Kahlua Glaze

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp Kahlua (or rum)
  • water to thin

 

Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and pop them into the preheat oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool. Then chop the pecans and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and auspice and whisk to combine.

, Combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a mixing bowl. Using either a stand or hand mixer, beat the ingredients on medium high speed until until light and fluffy.  Add the Greek Yogurt and beat  until incorporated. Then ddd the pumpkin puree, and vanilla, and mix on medium low speed until just combined.

Reduce mixer to ow speed and begin adding the dry ingredients. Mixing just until combined. The dough will be very firm.

Add the pecans and fold in using a silicone spatula until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Using an ice cream scoop with prominently a 2 tablespoon capacity is ideal for shaping the cookies. Dipping the scoop into cold water before scooping up the dough w makes it so much easier to to release the dough onto prepared baking sheet without any fuss. Allow about 1 ½ inches between each cookie.

Gently press the tops of the cookies with your finger tips to flatten them slightly.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back half way through the baking time.

When done transfer the baking sheet to a rack and set aside to cool.

Once the cookies are cool you can prepare the glaze.

Measure out the powdered sugar and set aside.

Using a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the brown sugar and heavy cream set over medium heat. Swirl the pan until simmering. Once the mixture begins to boil turn the heat down so the mixture bubbles evenly, while swirling the pan, for 4 or 5 minutes without overheating.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the Kahlua and swirl until combined.

Promptly add the powdered sugar and whisk continuously until the mixture is smooth and thickening as it begins to cool down. If the mixture begins d to seize up just add a little water the thin it down a bit.

Quickly glaze the cookies by spooning the glaze over the top of each cookie in a circular motion. Work as fast as you can as the glaze will become less fluid as it cools. Should that happen just whisk in a little water to thin the glaze just enough to continue.

Allow the glazed cookies to set for 30 minutes. Yu can then place them in cookie tins with parchment sheets between layers.

 

 

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