Our Family Recipes

Categories: recipes | food:My%20recipes


() Egg Thing: It's difficult to search for casserole recipes on the web because most of the recipes are full of mushroom soup. So I went with my gut and did the following egg bake thing for dinner last night. I guess I could have checked the Julia Child, but my gut was closer.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Saute the leeks. Beat together milk, eggs, and cheese. Stack the zucchini in a 9-inch baking pan, mixed with the leeks. Pour the milk mixture on top and put bread crumbs on top of that. Bake for 50 minutes. It turned out great!

() Couscous: By popular demand the couscous recipe.

Okay. Drain the tofu, slice it into rectangles, fry it in peanut oil, slice it into strips.

Boil the olive oil and broth. Pour it on the couscous and fluff with a fork. Dump in all the other ingredients and mix it up some more.

Tastes like a particulate Cobb salad or something.

() Fast Hot Chili: This recipe is derived from a really complicated recipe for a non-chili black bean soup from a Greens cookbook. I got rid of most of the complicated steps and now it's made almost entirely from things that come in cans. The other recipe is worth making but it's not hearty like a chili, and it's really inconvenient to make without a food mill.

Saute a diced onion and 1 t oregano in 2 T olive oil. Add 2 chipotle peppers with sauce and 2 chopped serrano peppers and 3 chopped cloves garlic and 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice. Simmer this for a while.

Then prepare in a big pot: 2 cans drained kidney beans, 2 cans black beans with juice, 1 package fake ground beef, and 2 cups vegetable broth. You could substitute the kidney bean juice for the vegetable broth, but I've never trusted kidney bean juice. You could also omit the vegetable broth altogether. Heat this up a little so it'll be about the same temperature as the stuff in the skillet.

Then dump the skillet contents into the big pot and cook a little longer. Puree some of the chili and/or add crushed up tortilla chips to make it thicker. Eat with avocado/chopped tomatoes/sour cream/etc. This is pretty hot; the hotness dial is the serrano peppers if you want to change it.

() Potato Blue Cheese Soup: I was going to make a potato-leek soup similar to Ultimate Chowdah, but the cream in the fridge had gone bad. So I came up with the idea of using blue cheese to thicken the soup instead of cream. It was definitely one of my better ideas.

Melt butter in soup pan. Add aromatics and salt, and sweat. Add broth, potatoes, corn, and herbs. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Get out the stick blender and blend it. Stir in the blue cheese. Add pepper to taste. Yum.

For the record, the aromatics I used were one onion, part of a leek, and two stalks of baby garlic. Yes, it's Clean Out The Fridge Daze here at Leonard's house.

() They Keep Coming: Ie. the recipes from Sumana's mother. This is a cold/sore throat remedy that really surprised me. You grind pepper into a saucepan full of water and boil the water. Then you grate ginger into it and drink it. Shocking!

() Curry Recipe: From Sumana's mother, Nagalakshmi, who wants me to come to India and says if I do she'll teach me how to cook Indian food.

Heat the oil in a pan. When it's hot, add the mustard seed, turmeric, and ginger. Then add:

Close the lid and leave for 5-8 minutes. Then add:

Serve with rice or naan or whatever.

My problem was, I was using too much liquid and my curry always was soupy.

I revently bought a bunch of spices mail-order (more on this later) but I didn't get any turmeric. I thought the only reason people used turmeric was for color, to fool diners into thinking you'd put saffron into the food when actually you were too cheap to buy saffron. Sumana and her mother think this is a hilarious misconception of mine.

() Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller: You come up with a great name for a dish and then it turns out someone else came up with it in 1998. They provided no recipe, though, so this is still groundbreaking stuff. I made this tonight for my "secondhand-eponymous dishes" mini-dinner party (also on the menu: Caesar salad and bananas Foster).

Basically you are going to put oyster mushrooms at the bottom of a ramekin (to simulate an oyster in its shell), and then fill it up with your favorite Oysters Rockefeller topping, except a little goopier to make up for the lack of oyster liqueur. Then you bake it and broil it. Here's the recipe I synthesized which tastes good, though I have no frame of reference to compare it to. It makes 4 ramekins worth.

Chop the MUSHROOMS and put them at the bottom of ramekins.

Saute the spinach and onion in the butter until the onion is a little brown and the spinach has wilted. Put the mixture in the food processor, add the rest of the FILLING ingredients, and process.

Make a white sauce out of the WHITE SAUCE ingredients, using the pan you just used for the spinach and onion. (Quick mini-recipe to make white sauce: melt butter, add flour and stir, when it's brown add milk and stir and reduce to a sauce.) Pour the white sauce in the food processor and process again. You are basically making a weird pesto with white sauce instead of olive oil. Then scoop it into the ramekins and smooth it out flat.

Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees, then garnish with more breadcrumbs and finish it by broiling for 2 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley, hot sauce, lemon juice, or whatever. Tasty!

() Sickbed Soup: This is an incredibly easy soup that you can make when you're sick. I made it up when Sumana was sick and then tried it myself when I was sick earlier this week. The general idea comes from my mother. It's actually cheaper than most canned soup nowadays.

Ingredients

Procedure

Dump everything except the lime/hot stuff into a pot and heat until it boils. Simmer until the noodles are soft. Pour into a bowl and add lime/hot stuff until it's hot enough to clear your sinuses. The microorganisms won't know what hit them!

If you're not sick you might be able to think about adding some other stuff, like chopped parsley or random spices.

() Melon Baller Melon Balls: More dang recipes. Why not? I just got a melon baller from Sur La Table thanks to a gift card I got for my birthday (thanks, Andrew/Claudia) and it's great. Now, no melon is safe from my circular scalpel. I made the following recipe and tried to sell them to Sumana as "fake Dippin' Dots". She didn't buy it, but the liked the results. It is a simple yet ritzy appetizer, at least if my notions as to what is 'ritzy' are accurate, which they probably aren't.

Ingredients

Procedure

Cut the canteloupe in half, remove the seeds, and take the melon baller to it. Whee! Put the canteloupe balls on a cooling rack and put the cooling rack on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle sugar over them and put the sheet pan in the freezer for at least half an hour. (Note: the cooling rack and sheet pan are just a thing I made up so the canteloupe balls won't come out embedded in frozen canteloupe juice. You can just put them in a bowl but it'll get a little messy. Maybe you could set something up with a strainer over a bowl.)

So flavor #1 is the canteloupe. Flavor #2 is the pepper and flavor #3 is the balsamic vinegar. The important events in the life of any given canteloupe ball are a) being formed from the primordial canteloupe; b) having a toothpick jabbed into it; c) being frozen; d) being rolled in pepper; e) being dipped in balsamic vinegar; f) being eaten. How exactly you put them together depends on the scenario. The constraints are that you want the canteloupe to be as cold as possible when eaten, and that I don't think balsamic vinegar will freeze well.

For a party scenario you might do it a-b-d-c-e-f, providing a dish of vinegar for people to dip the canteloupe in. Or if it turns out balsamic vinegar freezes well, you could do it a-b-e-d-c-f and omit the need for a separate dish of vinegar.

The way I eat it is a-c-b-d-e-f, reusing the same toothpick for every canteloupe ball. Also, I'm usually standing over the kitchen counter while I'm doing it. Even though I got good at cooking, I'm still a slob.

This is a controversial recipe, and not all people accept it. Sumana does not like the cracked pepper, and thinks it should be omitted from the recipe. This might argue for a party-time preparation of a-b-c-d-e-f, providing a dish of cracked pepper as well as one of vinegar, so as to satisfy picky people like her.

Note about balsamic vinegar: the best kind is the generic brand sold at Whole Foods, which is really good and really cheap. Also, you can make balsamic vinegar taste twice as expensive by putting it in a saucepan and reducing it by half. I learn things from cooking shows and give you the important bits.

() Melon Baller Melon Balls: More dang recipes. Why not? I just got a melon baller from Sur Le Table thanks to a gift card I got for my birthday (thanks, Andrew/Claudia) and it's great. Now, no melon is safe from my circular scalpel. I made the following recipe and tried to sell them to Sumana as "fake Dippin' Dots". She didn't buy it. However, it is a simple yet ritzy appetizer, at least if my notions as to what is 'ritzy' are accurate, which they probably aren't.

Ingredients

Procedure

Cut the cantelope in half, remove the seeds, and take the melon baller to it. Whee! Put the cantelope balls on a cooling rack and put the cooling rack on a parchment-paper-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle sugar over them and put the sheet pan in the freezer for at least half an hour. (Note: the cooling rack and sheet pan are just a thing I made up so the cantelope balls won't come out embedded in frozen cantelope juice. You can just put them in a bowl but it'll get a little messy. Maybe you could set something up with a strainer over a bowl.)

So flavor #1 is the cantelope. Flavor #2 is the pepper and flavor #3 is the balsamic vinegar. The important events in the life of any given cantelope ball are a) being formed from the primordial cantelope; b) having a toothpick jabbed into it; c) being frozen; d) being rolled in pepper; e) being dipped in balsamic vinegar; f) being eaten. How exactly you put them together depends on the scenario. The constraints are that you want the cantelope to be as cold as possible when eaten, and that I don't think balsamic vinegar will freeze well.

For a party scenario you might do it a-b-d-c-e-f, providing a dish of vinegar for people to dip the cantelope in. Or if it turns out balsamic vinegar freezes well, you could do it a-b-e-d-c-f and omit the need for a separate dish of vinegar.

The way I eat it is a-c-b-d-e-f, reusing the same toothpick for every cantelope ball. Also, I'm usually standing over the kitchen counter while I'm doing it. Even though I got good at cooking, I'm still a slob.

This is a controversial recipe, and not all people accept it. Sumana does not like the cracked pepper, and thinks it should be omitted from the recipe. This might argue for a party-time preparation of a-b-c-d-e-f, providing a dish of cracked pepper as well as one of vinegar, so as to satisfy picky people like her.

Note about balsamic vinegar: the best kind is the generic brand sold at Whole Foods, which is really good and really cheap. Also, you can make balsamic vinegar taste twice as expensive by putting it in a saucepan and reducing it by half. I learn things from cooking shows and give you the important bits.

() Vaguely Remembered Mashed Sweet Potatoes: I guess I should post this since I already got a request for it. This is the recipe for mashed sweet potatoes mentioned in the Salon article. It's based on an ATK recipe but the requestor couldn't find the recipe on the ATK site for whatever reason, and mine's a little different anyway. It's really simple, so here it is in 1-2-3-4 form:

Dump everything in a pot. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash and serve with pepper.

I have a nonstick pot, so even though I was lazy about stirring and some of the potato slices got burned on the surface, it just enhanced the flavor with Maillard reaction products. Laziness wins again!

I remember the ATK recipe using white sugar instead of brown. I'm sure they tested it both ways but using white sugar with sweet potatoes just seems wrong to me.

() Public Service Announcement: On behalf of Kevin. Attention, West Coast and chain restaurants! We know you think you know the recipe for biscuit gravy. You think it goes like this:

  1. Make white sauce
  2. Fry some crappy sausage
  3. Put some crumbled sausage in the white sauce

Unfortunately white sauce is not biscuit gravy. White sauce is made from butter, and biscuit gravy is made from sausage grease, verily, the same sausage grease you created while frying the crappy sausage and then dumped into the grease pan or whatever happens to grease in restaurants. Contrary to popular opinion it is not neccessary to be a lovable Southern stereotype to make good biscuits and gravy. It is simply neccessary to not start off with a dang white sauce.

() LowbrowRustic Cheese Puffs: When I was younger I sometimes tried to make choux puffs and put pudding or ice cream in them for a dessert. But since they always came out flat it was difficult to put things in them. For my birthday party back in July I made savory choux puffs with cheese, and Sumana loved them so much that I kept making them, and eventually I had paid my puff-making dues and my puffs started actually coming out puffed.

Sumana wanted me to put up the recipe even though there's nothing special about my recipe, so here it is. Maybe I can help with technique.

The recipe uses my patented "1 of everything" measurements. I call them Rustic because to save time I dole them out with a spoon instead of a pastry bag, so they are a little lumpy. As all restaurant-goers know, Lumpy equals Rustic and vice versa.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the butter, salt, and pepper in the water and boil it. As soon as it comes to a boil, dump the flour in and stir it into a big ball. Transfer it to the mixer bowl, or use a hand mixer, because you're really going to need to clobber this dough. I'm pretty sure that insufficient clobbering was the cause of the flatness of my earlier attempts (my other guess is cold eggs; I haven't yet run an experiment to see which it is).

Start clobbering and add the eggs one at a time. Once the mixture looks thoroughly clobbered, add another egg. Then add the cheese and clobber some more.

Scoop with a spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Parchment paper or a Silpat mat on the cookie sheet help a lot. Knife the puffs when they come out of the oven so they don't get soggy. Then either eat them or let them sit a while, cut them open, and fill with something. My favorite filling right now is duxelle (basically sauteed mushrooms and onions) and MORE CHEESE. I am trying to think of something with kalmata olives. For truly lowbrow cheese puffs you could just fill them with Cheez Whiz.

This makes 24 cheese puffs, or 2 cookie sheets' worth.

() Yum Yum Yam Yam Walla Walla Couscous: This is my reverse-engineering of a dish by that name that Seth had heard about when he was young. I'll present it in lovely CfE format.

3 yams, peeled and diced Bake on sheet for 30 minutes at 325 degrees combine
1 cup mixed dried fruit (eg. cranberries, raisins)
1 cup nuts (eg. walnuts) toast
2 Walla Walla or other sweet onions, diced saute in olive oil
ground cinnamon
cumin
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups water or broth boil combine and fluff
2 cups couscous

Discussion: I added more stuff to the recipe than to the dish I actually made, because the awesome expansion power of couscous made the end result look like a desert of couscous which expeditions of yams and cranberries had unsuccessfully tried to cross. Couscous can hold a lot of other stuff. I also added some garlic to the recipe because the couscous I made was too sweet and lacked bite. Put in the garlic when your saute is almost done so it doesn't burn; that's just a general rule of garlic. I used Hawaiian sweet onions because I couldn't find Walla Walla onions.

Not bad, for a first couscous recipe. And until I find a better one, I declare that this has the best name of any dish ever created.

(): By request, here are recipes for the things I served at my Sunday night dinner party:

() Butter Pecan Ice Cream: As a test of the automatic aggregation, I'll post the most recent recipe I've made. I'm having a little dinner party tomorrow and tonight I made butter pecan ice cream. This is a good time to formally state the pound-cake-like Generic Ice Cream Mneumonic I've come up with:

I'm experimenting with heating the sugar along with the cream and milk. It worked out well this time, so heat all that up in a pan.

Now, the rest of my mneumonic (patent pending) is '1 cup flavor stuff'. However, the flavor of butter pecan ice cream depends in large part on the brown sugar we're using, so that kind of counts as 'flavor stuff' and we actually want less than 1 cup. What I used was:

If you're offended by the idea of deviation from the mneumonic I made up, then 1) that's kind of weird, and 2) you can probably do 1 cup of nuts and 3 tablespoons of butter without ruining the ice cream.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Toast the pecans. I dunno when you stop exactly; generally you stop toasting nuts as soon as you smell the oils being released, but something is wrong with my sense of smell today so I just stopped when they looked right. Dump the nuts and butter into the cream/milk/sugar mixture. Stir in The Old Standbys:

When you've got nuts and sugar and cold, you know there's got to be salt.

There's your mix. Let it cool and then machine it. Very tasty.

() Ultimate Chowdah: I made this out of Planet Organic leftovers that I've been too lazy to cook the past few weeks. It is delicious (there is a huge amount left). Sumana says "It's the best chowdah I've ever had." I think it is too.

Ingredients

Procedure

Put everything except the leeks and the cream in a pot and start a-simmerin'. Saute the leeks in butter and put them in the pot. Once the potatoes and the corn are cooked (maybe 30 minutes), mash the soup with a potato masher. If you want, blend it a little with a stick blender. At the last minute, stir in the cream to turn it into a chowdah.

This is the only recipe I know of that is both a potato-leek soup and a potato-corn chowdah. That's right, it's two soups in one. Step right up!

PS about stick blenders: they cost about $30 except for one particular brand (I forget which) that costs $10. It's not worth $30 to have one but I think it is worth $10. So get the cheap one. It is useful for: soups, whipping cream, light drink-mixing duty.

PPS: Susanna, I made your ninety-minute rolls this morning and they were so good that I made another batch in the evening.

() Pesto Fondue!: It's madness, but it works. Make fondue and then add some pesto to it at the last minute. I made it last night and it was more of a cheesy pesto dip because I lost control of the cornstarch, but it tasted great. Also good on toast.

() Strawberry/Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream: I bought a bunch of strawberries thinking I would make that Italian dessert with strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Then I remembered how much I like strawberry ice cream and I decided to make strawberry ice cream instead--with balsamic vinegar! Ha! Here's the recipe:

Macerate[0] the strawberries in the juice/vinegar/vanilla for an hour. You can add any other flavorings you want; I tried a little almond extract because I have this huge thing of almond extract I bought and I'm trying to figure out what it's good for. Once it's good and macerated, add:

Mix well. Smush with a fork or potato masher if you want. Put in an ice cream maker, and there you go. No cooking. Strawberry seeds are very small so you don't have to worry about seeds in the ice cream.

I have had the ice cream but I am not sure how it tastes. I just don't know! Is the balsamic vinegar good or bad for the flavor? Would it be better as just a standard strawberry ice cream? It's a very complicated flavor and I need more time to decide.

I think my final verdict will be it's good for small dishes on the veranda but not for big pints that you eat while watching Sex in the City and generally being a big stereotypical chick. Ususally I wait to post up a recipe until I know whether or not I actually like it, but Sumana is doing a taste test and she always wants me to have the recipe put up in advance.

Other recipes coming up: pestoast, vegetarian risotto.

[0] This is cook-speak for 'soak'. I don't know why there are so many cooking terms that mean the same thing. "Marinade" and "macerate" imply different types of soaking substances, but since you have to say what the soaking substance is, I don't know why they don't just say "soak" except in those really terse recipes that are really just descriptions like you see in those pocket French cookbooks: Strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar, made into ice cream. Here "vinegar" implies a marinade, but "macerated" makes you know that you have to add sugar and rare liquers and whatnot.

() Hummus Take 2: I made some hummus for Mark's birthday party, which I'm going off to after I post this. It turns out you have to start it in the food processor, unless you have a monster diesel-powered blender. I really do recommend finishing it in the blender, though. I added some sesame seeds and it's got a little different taste from the other batch of hummus. I think that's mainly because I used a different brand of garbanzo bean. Still good, and I managed to get the consistency right.

() Pretty Good Hummus: It's been over a week since one promise fed into another. I promised Alyson I'd try to figure out how to make smooth, creamy hummus like they serve in Middle Eastern restaurants. She and I are tired of the grainy stuff you get in a tub from the store. So join me in the Test Kitchen You Can Bruise, as I uncover the secrets of great hummus.

I looked at eight different hummus recipes on the web and tried to factor out the commonalities and tally the differences. I came up with the following generic set of ingredients:

Generic Hummus

Process all ingredients except for olive oil in food processor or blender. Use water or reserved garbanzo liquid to lubricate the hummus if the blade won't catch. Slowly drizzle olive oil (as though making pesto) into the vortex until hummus reaches desired consistency.

Simple enough. Then there were the secret ingredients: cumin, soy sauce (?! But it was in two of the eight recipes!), ground sesame, oregano, paprika, chopped parsley, chopped chilis, coriander, plain yogurt, cayenne, turmeric, and cilantro.

I decided to use yogurt instead of water or reserved liquid, because it would both lubricate the hummus and add the tangy flavor you get at a restaurant. I bought cumin and coriander to put in the hummus, but I am a spice spaz and I couldn't find the coriander. I used marjoram instead, because it smelled nice.

What I got was pretty good. It's smooth (a little too smooth, actually; I used too much yogurt) and tasty. Since I got it pretty close, I think my one experiment entitles me to take a guess at the two secrets to smooth hummus:

  1. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt to the generic recipe.
  2. Use the blender, not the food processor.

I started the hummus in the food procesor (a teeny 2 cup model that makes me work in stages; wedding gift overflow from an anonymous source), but I wasn't happy with the consistency so I moved it to the blender to finish it. I'm almost certain you could get the exact same result by just dumping everything in the blender.

All the herbs and spices affect the way it tastes, not the consistency. I do not claim to have made the tastiest hummus in the world; just one that has a good creamy consistency. As for flavor, I have not tried this, but adding a tablespoon or two of peanut butter might be good.

You might balk at buying plain yogurt just so you can use a little bit of it in hummus. The solution is to buy a lot of plain yogurt and make tzatziki with the rest; then you've got the complete Pita Fun Pak.

Incidentally, after smelling my post-hummus breath Sumana wants me to make it clear that a little garlic goes a long way in this recipe.

() Pesto Myths And Facts: I should be sleeping off my NewsBruiser triumph, but instead I'm writing this because I promised Sumana to demystify pesto tonight. So let me tell you that I made pesto on a whim without ever having made it before and it was great. I made it out of less-than-fresh basil and it was great. I made "Panic Pesto" out of whatever vaguely relevant ingredients I had lying around, and it was great. It's hard to screw up pesto. With that in mind, let me clear up some common misconceptions about pesto and its manufacture.

Myth: Pesto is just olive oil and basil.
Fact: Pesto is also three other things.

To make pesto you combine basil, nuts, cheese, and garlic in a food processor, then, with the food processor on, drizzle in olive oil until the mixture becomes semi-liquid. There should be a lot of basil, the same amount of nuts as cheese, and garlic to taste.

You can add pepper if you want. I wouldn't add salt if I were you. There's plenty of salt in the cheese, and if you are some kind of salt vampire or humanoid deer you should just keep your freakish lifestyle to yourself. There is no room in the blues for your petty sentimentality!

Myth: You must use hand-carved pine nuts.
Fact: That doesn't even make sense.

You can make pesto with any kind of nut. Panic Pesto was made of half pine nuts and half walnuts. Does it make a difference? Sure. In the way it tastes. Not in whether or not it's pesto. It still tastes fine.

Myth: Only Parmesan cheese is acceptable.
Fact: The previous statement is a myth, whereas this one is fact.

Panic Pesto was made of 1/4 Parmesan and 3/4 Jarlsberg fondue leftovers. If Jarlsberg works, then any white hard or semi-soft cheese should work. Maybe bleu cheese would work. Maybe even cheddar would work.

Myth: The non-use of basil in pesto will anger the pesto king.
Fact: The pesto king is an imposter and a fraud. So who cares?

I have only ever made pesto with basil, because both Sumana and I are crazy about basil. But you could make it with parsley instead, or spinach, or anything that's leafy and green with some flavor. You could even make mint pesto, though I wouldn't put it on pasta.

Myth: Blah blah blah.
Fact: Just put whatever you want in pesto. Make it with walnut oil. Substitute some other aromatic for garlic. Make hummus instead. You could probably come up with a combination that is awful, but my feeling is you'd have to ignore some other common-sense rule of cooking to do it.

() Baklava Brownies: I have reached that annoying (to you) stage of culinary skill where I can kind of make food on the fly, but I can't precisely recreate a recipe after the fact. I just can't envision the quantities. However, the secret of cooking is that recipes are very flexible so long as you're not making a cake or anything. So although the quantities I put down below are estimates, they should come out fine. If you run out of filling, just make more. That's what I did.

With that in mind, here is my baklava recipe. This is not at all like traditional baklava, which I think I've mentioned I don't really like. It's really dry and I can't help but think it is a complete waste of an opportunity to use figs or dates. The consensus from the salon.com tasting lab is that these are like brownies, so I dub them Baklava Brownies. They are probably healthier than fudge brownies, because they're basically made of dates and nuts, the sort of things that if you cornered a doctor and asked if it was healthy to eat a lot of them, the doctor would give sort of an equivocal answer versus a straight "no".

The goal of this recipe is to prepare FILLING, put it between sheets of BUTTERED PHYLLO, and bake it before adding TOPPING. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then start assembling the

FILLING

Chop up everything in a food processor. You should have a big sticky mass. This is going to have a browniesh consistency and taste, but it's not going to have any structural integrity. That's why you're going to employ it as filling in a

BUTTERED PHYLLO ASSEMBLY

I'm not going to get into the mechanics of buttering phyllo dough. Suffice to say that you need:

Layer three sheets (actually half-sheets) of dough on the bottom and spread half of the filling on top. Layer three more sheets on top of the filling and put the rest of the filling on top of that. Top with three more sheets. Butter every side of every sheet of phyllo dough.

I built my baklava on a cookie sheet, but it should be small enough and would be more in keeping with the brownie theme to put it in a brownie pan. Anyway, according to some online sources you should cut squares out of the baklava before you bake it--just cut the top layer of dough, don't cut into the filling. I did this and it turned out fine.

You've got a half-sheet of phyllo dough left. Cut it up, butter it, and smush it along the sides of your assemblage so that the filling doesn't run out when you bake it. Then bake it, for about 10 minutes. While it's baking make the

TOPPING

You really shouldn't trust my recipe here, because my topping never reduced and thus didn't turn out too well. But it's equal parts honey and sugar (about 1/4 cup of each), reduced in an equal amount of water with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Spoon it over the baklava when you take it out of the oven.

Like brownies, you can eat this hot or let it cool. It's good either way.

() Recipes I Just Made Up: I made up a recipe for a college student (Rachel) to eat without having to leave her house. Unfortunately it did not work because yes, she has no bananas, but she did like the recipe. "you should be a CHEF with your own cooking show", says she. Well, I am a CHEF of sorts, but unfortunately my proposal for a cooking show was rejected by ESPN.

I call this "Bisected Banana". Take a banana, peel it, and split it lengthwise. Spread creamy peanut butter on one of the banana halves and use it to glue the banana back together. Sprinkle the banana with a little sugar. The end.

() Poached Pear Ice Cream: "What I need for a dessert for my expensive theme restaurant," I told my chef, "is a combination of some chi-chi dish like poached pears, and a dish of the people like ice cream."

My chef, who is also me, cried out, "You're mad! Mad, I tell you! You've never even had poached pears and you have only the vaguest idea of what a poached pear is! Also, what theme restaurant?"

"I call it 'Foods You Can Bruise: The Interactive Restaurant Experience'," I told the chef. You know, I think of him as the son I almost had. "It will serve never-before-seen fusion cuisine, made with only the freshest ingredients, except where we can get away with it."

"Maybe you should call it something like 'The Lowdown,'" said the chef.

"Silence, chef-self! The longer the name, the longer the line out the door! The First Rule of Restauranteering never fails... to fail! Now, while I write the description for the menu, find a poached pear recipe on the Internet that can be turned into an ice cream!"

Ingredients

Preparation

Put a tiny bit of brown sugar in the pear seed cavities and put them cavity-down into a dish. Put a tiny bit of salt on each pear half, then spoon some maple syrup on top and put a little more brown sugar on top of that. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 8 minutes or until soft. (You could probably add cloves or something to the mix, but do I look like a clove-haver?)

Your pears are now microwave-poached. While you were waiting for them to be poached you put the cream and the milk into a saucepan and heated it to almost boiling. Now chop up the pears, put them in a bowl, and pour the milk/cream mixture over it. Add the sugar and the cinnamon. Stir. Add a little tangerine or orange juice and stir some more. If it doesn't taste sweet enough, add some more maple syrup or be ready to add more honey. If you want, add a tiny bit of vanilla and/or lemon oil. Then cool it, daddy-o.

Now it's ready to go in the ice cream machine. At some point during the ice cream making process, add some honey to the mixture. You now have poached pear ice cream!

Notes

I made this last night and it's delicious, but I made it way too sweet, which overpowers the taste of pear; indeed, overpowers your very sense of taste. I don't know why I kept putting sugar into it when it already had so much of so many kinds of sugar. The delta between the published recipe and what I actually made was 1/4 cup of white sugar and maybe 1/8 cup of brown. The recipe as published should be sweet but not too sweet. Let me know if I actually removed too much sugar. Oh, also the stuff I made had no cinnamon because I forgot to get cinnamon.

This is the metadessert recipe for which I asked Alton Brown's advice. For the record, he said that both honey and cinnamon would work well, but to be careful with the honey because it can affect the way the ice cream sets.


[Main]