Shrimp & Toasted Pumpkinseed Tart {ModBak}

If the idea of a green shrimp tart doesn’t immediately appeal to you, you’re not alone. My family refused to try this tart before I even made it, just based on the photo in the book. Nonetheless, I dutifully made the next recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge, knowing full well it would mostly be left uneaten.

This tart begins with a cornmeal pastry crust. The crust is essentially the same as the rich pastry dough used in many of the recipes in this section of the book, except that half of the AP flour is replaced with stone ground cornmeal. This results in a rich, savory crust with a hint of crunch, as well as a touch of yellow, from the cornmeal.

To make the pipian verde (Mexican green pumpkin seed sauce), I toasted the pumpkin seeds, then ground them in the food processor with aromatics, spices, and shrimp broth.

I cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces, then sautéed them in butter and cumin.

Don't they look like crawfish tails?

 After removing the shrimp from the pan, I returned the pipian verde to the pan, heated it through, then stirred in sour cream and the shrimp. I beat eggs in a bowl and stirred in the sauce and shrimp, then scraped it all into the shell

I baked the tart at 375°F for about 25 minutes, until the crust was baked and the tart set. I cooled the tart for a few moments, until I could remove the sides of the pan without burning myself.

Despite its appearance, this tart was quite flavorful. The serrano chiles gave it a gentle spice, and the pumpkin seeds lent an earthiness to the dish. The shrimp were well-cooked, and I found myself picking them out as I started to get full.

To my surprise, the kids ended up asking for (small) slices, and they both enjoyed it. Not enough to ask for seconds. But, hey, small steps are good, too.

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Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port {FFwD}

If this looks like a picture from a book, it's only because it is

 This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is another braised beef recipe. I had never cooked short ribs before, so I was excited to try this one. I made the recipe for company the same evening that I made last week’s pancetta green beans. And like the green beans, because I was in the middle of cooking for guests, I didn’t get any pictures.

But fear not. I found a recipe for short ribs in wine by Dorie Greenspan which, while not the exact recipe from Around My French Table, is pretty close. You can find the recipe here. I noticed a few differences when perusing this recipe. First, the recipe in AMFT calls for an entire bottle of red wine and 1 1/2 cups of port. Also, the gremolata in the book uses cilantro instead of parsley, and you have the option of using tangerine, clementine, or orange peel (I used orange).

The short ribs were absolutely delicious. They were fall-off-the-bone tender (in fact, several of the pieces did fall off the bone as I was plating them), and the wine and port gave the dish a deep, slightly sweet flavor.

We all agreed it was one of the best beef dishes we had eaten in a long time. And it definitely made me want to try cooking with short ribs again.

Orange-Almond Tart {FFwD}

The second February recipe for French Fridays with Dorie was this simple and tasty orange-almond tart. I have been baking a lot of sweets lately, so I decided to make this as a mini tart. And as long as I was shrinking the tart, I thought I’d shrink the oranges, too, by using mandarin oranges.

The almond cream consists of butter, sugar, almond flour (made from finely ground almonds), flour, cornstarch, egg, and rum. I mixed the ingredients, chilled the cream in the refrigerator for a few hours, then scraped the almond cream into a prepared tart crust. I arranged the oranges on top of the cream, being sure to leave room for the almond cream to bake up around the oranges.

I baked the tart at 350°F for about 40 minutes until the cream was puffed, set, and golden brown. I cooled the tart, then removed it from the pan and served it on a dessert plate.

This was a really delicious tart, simple to prepare and full of possibilities. It could be made with just about any fruit and would make a nice, light dessert to accompany any meal.

Florida Brownies {Bake!}

A few weeks ago, M needed a treat to take to a Superbowl party. It just so happened that I was baking these brownies from Nick Malgieri‘s Bake! that weekend, so it worked out perfectly.

This was a very simple and straightforward recipe. The ingredients were butter, unsweetened chocolate, eggs, vanilla, salt, sugar, and flour.

For some reason, I tend to pass over recipes that call for baking chocolate in favor of those that use cocoa. This is beginning to change, thanks in large part to Nick. Watching him bake at a recent cooking class, as well as reading and baking his recipes, has made me realize that baking chocolate is actually pretty easy to work with, and the results are far superior to what you get using only cocoa or chocolate chips.

I began by meting the butter, then adding the chocolate to the pan off the heat. While the chocolate was melting, I whisked together the eggs, vanilla, and salt, then whisked in the sugar. I beat the sugar mixture in the electric mixer until it was very light and fluffy — about 10 minutes. I whisked the butter and chocolate, then added it to the sugar and mixed gently. I added the flour and mixed just until it was all combined.

I scraped the batter into a pan lined with buttered foil, then baked the brownies in a 375°F oven for about 35 minutes. I cooled the brownies for a bit, then unmolded them to a cutting board and cut them into 2-inch squares.

I plated most of the brownies for M to take to her party, but of course kept some at home, too. I’m a big fan of fudgy brownies, but these were more cakey than fudgy. They were still delicious — among the best cake-like brownies I’ve tasted. And they were a hit at the party, too, as evidenced by the empty plate M brought home.

Pancetta Green Beans {FFwD}

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was as delicious as it was simple. The ingredients were little more than those in the title of the recipe — pancetta, green beans, butter, salt, and pepper. And it was very easy to put together, even while finishing dinner for company.

I began by sautéing the pancetta. The recipe calls for two ounces of pancetta, but the package I bought contained four ounces. I didn’t have any use for other half of the package, and I figured more bacon is better, so I used it all. While the pancetta was cooking, I boiled a pot of water and cooked the green beans for a few minutes. I flashed the green beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color.

When it was almost time to eat, I melted some butter in the sauté pan, then added the beans and pancetta, heated them through, and seasoned with fresh ground black pepper and just a little bit of salt. I served the green beans with short ribs in red wine and port (next week’s recipe). They were a big hit, and everyone said they complimented the short ribs well.

Family Food: Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash {Recipe}

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Today is a special day for my friend, Cheryl Tan. After what I’m sure seems like an eternity, her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, comes out today. Check it out on Amazon. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what Cheryl told me about this book and her inspiration for it:

  • A Tiger In The Kitchen,… is about a year that I spent traveling to Singapore to learn about my family by cooking with them. The book is filled with lessons (life, cooking and otherwise) learned in the kitchen, as well as a few recipes.”

To celebrate the release of Cheryl’s book, I would like to share a family recipe with you. This is far and away my favorite recipe from my maternal grandmother, Nanny Faye. Nan made a lot of great recipes. Her fried chicken was nothing short of sublime. But the dish we all looked forward to whenever she would visit was her Hungarian Goulash.

Nan said she was given this recipe by a Hungarian neighbor, and for years she would never share it with anyone. When I was 13 years old, Nan came to live with us for about a year while my mom was in nursing school. During that time, Nan and I started cooking together, and I would help her make goulash whenever it was on the menu for dinner. Eventually, I tried to write down the recipe as best I could from what I observed while we cooked. I showed my attempt to Nan, and without a word, she took it and began to make some corrections. Before long, I had the recipe that no one in my family thought possible to get in writing.

I grew up thinking this dish was fairly representative of Hungarian goulash. In later years, I found that what most people think of as “goulash” is quite different than Nan’s dish. Most other recipes are more like a soup than a stew and are served over spaetzle or some other kind of noodle. They also usually contain onions and green peppers. At some point, I began to question the authenticity of Nan’s goulash. But I eventually realized that goulash is to Hungary as red beans and rice are to New Orleans. That is to say, it’s a dish found in every kitchen, and every cook has her own way of preparing it. So even though this recipe may be different than what you think of when you hear the word “goulash”, if you try it, I am certain you will agree that it is delicious by any name.

The recipe presented below is largely the same as it was when I got it from Nanny Faye, with just a few changes. When Nan made goulash, she did the whole thing on the stovetop, cooking the beef in the sauce for about 45 minutes, then adding the carrots and cooking for another 45 minutes, and finally adding the potatoes and cooking until they were done, 45 minutes to an hour. I like to put the whole thing together and braise it in the oven. It’s easier, takes less attention, and comes out beautifully.

Nanny Faye’s Hungarian Goulash

 Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • Salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

 Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes. Salt lightly. Melt butter in large, heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown beef on all sides in small batches. As pieces are well-browned, remove them to a bowl.
  3. While meat is browning, mix flour and paprika in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups water, garlic, and a pinch of salt.
  4. After all the meat has browned, reduce heat to medium and return meat to the Dutch oven. Add flour mixture, tomato paste mixture, carrots, and potatoes, in order, stirring well after each addition. Cook until sauce begins to bubble.
  5. Cover Dutch oven and place on center rack of oven. Allow meat to braise for 1 hour. Remove pot from oven, uncover, and stir stew. Add water as necessary – mixture should be thick.
  6. Replace lid, return pot to oven, and cook 1 1/2 hours longer, until beef and vegetables are very tender.
  7. Serve immediately with crusty French bread, or chill overnight and reheat the next day. Like most stewed beef dishes, this goulash benefits from an overnight rest and will taste even better the next day.

Yield: 10-12 generous servings

Basque Potato Tortilla {FFwD}

When I saw the name of this recipe, I pictured a potato-filled quesadilla or some other Mexican-inspired dish. But in fact, this dish comes to France from Spain, where tortilla — translated “little cake” — refers to an egg dish similar to what we think of as an omelette.

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is in essence a baked omelette filled with potatoes and onions. Although in France and Spain it is generally served cold or at room temperature for lunch or dinner, I couldn’t imagine eating it any other way than fresh out of the oven for brunch.

I began by cooking the potatoes and onions in a small amount of olive oil. Because it was a busy week, I took a shortcut and bought a bag of Potatoes O’Brien. So in addition to the potatoes and onions, my tortilla also had a few green and red peppers in it. After the vegetables were cooked, I removed them to a bowl, washed the pan, and put the pan back on the heat with a little more olive oil.

When the oil had heated, I poured in beaten eggs and the potatoes and lowered the heat. After two minutes, I ran a spatula around the edge of the pan, then put the lid on the pan. I allowed the eggs to cook slowly, periodically using a rubber spatula to make sure the eggs weren’t sticking to the pan.

After the eggs were mostly cooked, with just a little uncooked egg glistening in the center of the tortilla, I placed the pan under the broiler to finish cooking.

This was a really good egg dish, although I still can’t envision eating it cold. We enjoyed it for brunch, and everyone agreed that, whatever the book calls it, it was a baked omelette. I could see making this again for breakfast or brunch when I have company, and changing up the ingredients for variety. And I would definitely add cheese the next time.