ROSE HARISSA CHICKEN THIGHS

Harissa is an ingredient I am quite fond of. Not only for its intense taste, but because I was introduced to it in a restaurant in Paris and the whole experience was pretty magical. It was my first time enjoying Moroccan couscous. I was with a Parisian friend who ordered the Couscous Royale, a real feast with several types of meat, including lamb and merguez (which I fell in love with at first bite). But what I remember the most was the waiter offering to add some harissa to our plate. He grabbed a ladle of the couscous broth, added this sexy red paste to it, mixed it with a small spoon, and poured it over our serving of couscous. Just a little bit, so I could decide if I wanted more, which obviously I did. When I learned from Ottolenghi that there’s this thing called Rose Harissa, I could not wait to get it and try it. If you think the regular kind is sexy, this one is sexy and she knows it.

ROSE HARISSA CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from Ottolenghi’s Simple)

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 celery ribs, diced
5 boneless, skin-less chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons rose harissa
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, sliced thin
1 can stewed tomatoes
15 g dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
1 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
cilantro to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker or regular large sauce pan. Sautee the celery pieces seasoned with salt and pepper until very fragrant and soft. Add the chicken pieces, let them briefly color on both sides. Add the harissa and the paprika and saute it all together for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes and the juices, the red bell pepper, and if cooking under pressure, add just about 1/2 cup of water, or enough to cover the  meat. Add the chocolate pieces, cover the pan and cook under pressure for 25 minutes. If using a regular pan, add the full cup of water and simmer it all gently for 40 minutes or longer, until the meat is very tender. After 30 minutes, add the pieces of chocolate and mix to dissolve.

When the meat is tender, or the pressure cooking time is elapsed, remove the chicken and, if needed, reduce the sauce and use an immersion blender to make it a bit more smooth. No need to fully blend it, just process until some pieces of tomato and red bell pepper still remain more or less intact.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro and lemon juice right before serving.

Spoon the sauce over the reserved pieces of chicken, serve with white rice, mashed cauliflower, polenta… anything you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When I opened the pressure cooker, I was hit with such intense peppery blast, that I thought dinner was ruined. Thankfully, it was not the case. The sauce turned out with a very nice flavor, hot, but not burning-hot, the rose component just made it all taste complex. We liked it so much that, contrary to what happens most of the time, I had nothing left for my lunch next day. We stopped when all chicken thighs were gone. Pups got nothing, not even a taste. Yeap, that’s how greedy we were.

We had quite a bit of leftover sauce, which I used as the basis for a turkey chili made a couple of evenings later. It would go very well with lamb, perhaps a perfect pairing for that tender lamb I spoke about not too long ago. And now, I am on a mission to find new uses for my sexy Rose Harissa. If only all life’s problems were as hard as this one…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Caramel-Chocolate Tartlets

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Korma-ish

THREE YEARS AGO: Sunday Gravy with Braciola

FOUR YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, February 2015

FIVE YEARS AGO: Avocado and Orange Salad with Charred Jalapeno Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: Green Olive, Walnuts and Pomegranate Salad

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Romanian Flatbreads

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ziti with Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

NINE YEARS AGO: Blasted Broccoli, Stove-top version

 

 

 

 

SHIBARI BREAD

I love a simple loaf of bread, mostly white flour, a touch of whole-wheat, good crust and crumb, nothing necessarily fancy. But I am always fascinated by what I call exotic bakes. Things that demand a little more attention, a little more work, and often a lot more patience. One site that never fails to amaze me is BakeStreet. Not only they show unusual, unique recipes, but they might include videos of the entire process, particularly when shaping is more elaborate. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled on their blog post on  Pan Shibari. They designed a bread recipe inspired by a classic Japanese knot (shibari is Japanese for knot).  The knot is quite an important symbol in Japan, and it’s easy to see why. It joins things, it carries a sort of sensual connotation, and it can be very artistic. I confess I was so mesmerized by that bread, I could not wait to try it myself. It was not easy. But, I’m happy with the way it turned out. My very first Shibari Bread!

SHIBARI BREAD
(slightly modified from BakeStreet)

600 g of all-purpose flour
300 g of whole milk at room temperature
36 g of cocoa powder + 45 g of whole milk
5 g of instant yeast
1 egg L (55 g)
75 g of unsalted butter at room temperature
40 g of honey
3/4 teaspoon of natural chocolate extract
10 g of salt
olive oil for brushing bread
1 egg yolk
2 tsp milk
pinch of salt

Make the dough.  In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mix the flour along with the milk, the egg and the dry yeast. Mix with the kneading hook for 5 minutes on low-speed, until it is homogeneous.

Add the honey and salt, continue mixing for at least 5 more minutes, until very smooth and silky.  Add the butter little by little, in small pieces, waiting for each piece to be incorporated before you add more. Continue kneading the dough until gluten development is complete (it will not tear when you stretch a small portion of the dough, instead it will form a thin membrane).

Divide the dough in two pieces, a small one with 200g, and a second one with the remaining portion, around 870g. Shape the small portion as a ball and place inside an oiled container. Cover and reserve. To the second portion, add the cocoa powder with the milk and chocolate extract. Knead to incorporate them well, and make a dough with homogeneous color. I find it easier to place back in the Kitchen Aid and let the machine do some of the work, then finish it by hand.  Form as a ball and place in a second oiled container.  Proof the two balls of dough for about 3 hours at room temperature. It should double in size.

Now is the perfect moment to swallow that Prozac.

Shape the bigger ball of dough as a batard, after de-gassing it lightly. Reserve, covered with plastic film as you work on the other ball of dough.  Roll the smaller ball as a rectangle of approximately 14 by 10 inches. Cut parallel strips with a thickness of 0.4 inches (1 cm).   You will need 15 strips, but you will have more than that, which is good, in case you get in trouble.

Place 3 strips laying horizontally on the center of the bread, as shown in the composite picture. Place 6 strips laying on top, forming a C shape facing one side of the bread. Use other 6 strips to form a bundle held in the center by the C-shaped group of strips you just placed. Braid according to the video. Start all over if necessary. Who am I kidding? It will be necessary. Several times. Keep calm (HA!), and braid on. Once the braiding is done…

stop sobbing, regain your composure…

and brush the surface of the bread with olive oil. Cover with plastic film and let it proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.  It will almost double in size.  Meanwhile set the oven to 350 F.

When ready to bake, brush the surface with egg yolk whisked with milk and salt. Make sure to cover all the parts of the bread.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until internal temperature is about 195 F.

Cool yourself completely and also the bread before slicing (slicing applies to the bread only).

Pat yourself on the back. You’ve done it!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe (without jokes), click here

Comments: Having recently made panettone, I can tell you that the dough for shibari bread has some similarities: inclusion of egg, milk and honey, and the butter being added at the end, after the dough is almost fully developed. The main bread takes quite a bit of cocoa powder, which gives it almost the feeling of a German rye bread. Quite interesting, when you consider that the formula involves exclusively white flour.

The braiding. Not. For. Sissies. Keep in mind, there were no written instructions or diagrams. Just a video. The woman knows what she’s doing, and she moves fast. One piece of advice, keep track of the time it takes you to braid, and take that as part of the  proofing. It took us 45 minutes to wrap this baby up in strands. Don’t judge us. Thank you.

I don’t know how many times I watched the video (it is mesmerizing), made drawings trying to number the strands and figure out which one is moved when and how. At some point I thought I “got” it, and said to myself, this will be totally doable. Famous. Last. Words. When I had the actual strands of dough and the shaped bread in front of me, things got very nasty very quickly.  Luckily, I made it on a holiday in which we were home, snowed-in. Hubby to the rescue. He had the video going, stopping at every step and guiding me. Still we had to start over four times, if you can believe it. All that as the shaped bread was rising right in front of my scared eyes. Strangely enough, we managed to do it, and what is even more amazing, we are still married. I recall the phrase “You are just impossible!” being used more than once. I tell you, if your marriage can take the The Elusive Shibari Test, you are tied for eternity. I am counting on it.

I think this basic method has a ton of potential. The double-color dough is very elegant, but one could just use a single dough and make the same braid on top. Or switch things around and make the braid with the cocoa-tinted dough, and keep the main loaf underneath as a white bread.  I also envision a savory type of bread, with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, for instance. The thing to keep in mind is that the bread must have a gentle rise in the oven, and the dough used for the braid must have a similar formula so that both components rise at compatible speeds. That all points in the direction of enriched breads, since they tend to have a more gentle oven rise. But I am speaking from intuition and could be totally mistaken. Worth a few experiments, I think…

To make the dough strands I used my set of rolling cutters closed down to the tightest level. In that configuration they generate strands with almost exactly 1cm wide, and they end up quite uniform. In the video, the Bread Goddess does all the cutting free-hand, but if I tried to do that, I am not sure our marriage would survive. It would be a 50:50 thing, maybe. Perhaps 25:75. Hard to tell.

So there you have, the mandatory crumb shot. It is a moist and delicate crumb, but with a very assertive flavor coming from the cocoa powder. It pairs well with jams, but also with a nice slice of ham or a Roquefort type cheese.  I hope you enjoyed the post, and please take a look at that video. The real “fun” part starts at 3 minutes and 50 seconds, in case you are interested in the braiding process.  I had that song as an ear worm for a while…  Maybe I still do!  🙂

ONE YEAR AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four – January 2018 

TWO YEARS AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

THREE YEARS AGO: When Three is Better than Two

FOUR YEARS AGO: Somebody Stop Me!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

SIX YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

NINE YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

30-HOUR LEG OF LAMB WITH MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Let me just say upfront, the pictures do not do justice to how tasty this meal turned out. Ideally, this would be prepared using lamb shoulder, but it is very hard to find. So I used the upper part of the leg, boneless, tied with a net to keep its overall shape. You have two options for leg of lamb: cooking it rare to medium-rare (more traditional), or cooking a lot longer, so that the meat pretty much falls off the bone (when there’s a bone).  I wanted to make it sous-vide, but while doing some research, found a wide range of temperature and cooking time listed in cookbooks and websites.  After hyperventilating about it for a while, I settled on 30 hours at 160 F. I am thrilled to report that it was a successful experiment. If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, please see my comments after the recipe.

30-HOUR LEG OF LAMB WITH MASHED SWEET POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied and tied (2.5 to 3.0 pounds)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
5 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in large chunks
1 + 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
1/2 tsp Southwest Seasoning mix (I used Penzey’s)
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh parsley, minced (to taste)

Set your sous-vide to 160 F.  Mix the salt, pepper and mustard together in a small bowl. Pat the meat dry and season all over with the spice mixture. Place inside a bag and vacuum-seal it.  Place in the water-bath and cook for 30 hours. Cover the container with aluminum foil and check for water evaporation over that period of time.  When 30 hours passed, remove the meat from the bag, and run under a broiler to get a nice brown roasted appearance to it.  Serve immediately, the meat should be falling apart when you probe it with a fork.

For the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes, water and seasonings in a crock pot. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Warm the coconut milk in a microwave (do not boil), add to the potatoes in the crock pot, and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you prefer. Add minced parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve with the lamb.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some questions you might have: do I need a sous-vide for this? Well, you do if you want to come up with this exact result, but you can always follow this method to obtain a similar type of lamb, quite different from the way it is normally enjoyed. It is known as “Lamb you can eat with a spoon” and pretty much describes the meal we had. Another question could be, can I make it in  24 hours instead of 30? I’d say you probably could, but the meat would not be as tender. Sous-vide offers a real wide flexibility in terms of timing, but I would definitely go more towards 30 rather than 24 for this preparation. There are discussions on how much liquid the meat loses as you increase the temperature and the timing, so higher temperatures can be problematic for some cuts of meat. I heard of a fantastic recipe for lamb shoulder from a restaurant that cooks it at 170F for 36 hours, but keep in mind that lamb shoulder is a bit different in terms of texture. All things considered, I think the way we made it turned out pretty good. I would like to come up with a sauce to serve with it, but was unsure about using the liquid accumulated in the bag as a starting point. Will re-visit this issue soon.

The sweet potatoes were quite delicious, and paired well with the lamb. We also had green beans and almonds as another side dish, forming a fun and colorful dinner plate. Leftovers can be shredded and come back as part of a lamb ragu, coupled with a hearty tomato sauce, or part of a curry with some garbanzo beans added to the party.

If you prefer a more traditional leg of lamb, you can use 135 to 140F for 24 hours for a bone-in piece. That will give you tender meat, pink all the way through, perfect to cut in slices. I like to keep seasoning simple, but you can of course use all kinds of dry rubs or marinades before placing it in the bag.

Sous-vide is a perfect gadget for entertaining. Since timing is so flexible and after sous-vide all you need is a last-minute browning or searing, it works wonders when you have guests for dinner.

ONE YEAR AGO: Maple-Grilled Pork Tenderloin over Lemony Zucchini

TWO YEARS AGO: Danish Rye Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: The Best Sourdough Recipe

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mini-Quiches with Duxelles and Baby Broccoli

FIVE YEARS AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

SIX YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

NINE YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE

Fifteen years ago, if you arrived in our place anytime during the weekend, chances are the FoodTV would be on. Great selection of wonderful shows, a lot to learn in a very entertaining way. Not the case anymore. Even my favorite show, The Kitchen – which I still watch every Saturday – caters more and more to grocery store shortcuts, in a kind of indirect advertisement that irritates me. I am 99% sure Chef Geoffrey Zakarian does not fall for the stuff promoted in the show. It was not the case in the beginning, but obviously money speaks loud. Why do I still tune in? I like those four people together, they have a nice chemistry going on, and every once in a while I find a gem of a recipe (like Jeff Mauro’s eggplant parmigiana). But coming back to what matters, there is one show on the Food Network I like a lot: Girl Meets Farm, with Molly Yeh, a beautiful, super energetic and fun-loving girl who cooks pretty eclectic food, influenced by her Chinese and Jewish backgrounds.  And, she loves to bake. From scratch. No cake mixes and shortcuts. There you go. This delicious example came straight from one episode I watched last year. You know, back in 2018.

LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE
(slightly modified from Girl Meets Farm)

for the cake:
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (180 g)
1/2 cup almond flour (48 g)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (185 g)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1 + 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (about 160 g)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

for the glaze:
1/2 cup (50 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more if necessary
Pinch kosher salt
sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. I used a Silikomart mold called Water Drop, and 4 small cupcake type molds.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, baking soda and zest in a medium bowl. Mix the yogurt and lemon juice in a separate small bowl until very smooth. Whisk together the granulated sugar and olive oil in a large bowl until well combined. Add the eggs to the olive oil mixture, one at a time, whisking very well after each, then stir in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture to the olive oil mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cranberry glaze: Combine the cranberries with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the cranberries start to break down and release their juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the cranberries and their juices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Press the mixture through the sieve with a spatula, making sure to scrape off the bottom of the sieve and adding that to the bowl as well. Add the powdered sugar and salt to the bowl and mix until it comes together into a spreadable glaze.  If the glaze is too thick, add a couple drops of water until it’s thin enough to spread. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Pour over the cooled cake.

Decorate with sprinkles or slivered almonds, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a recipe for cake-o-phobes, simple, no need to even get your KitchenAid out to play. The cake is moist, satisfying, and don’t even think about omitting the glaze, it is just fantastic. The type of glaze that tempts you to go at it with a small knife when no one is looking and turn any leftover cake into its naked self. No, I did not do it. Just considered it. Very seriously so.

My glaze was a bit thick, so it did not show the ridges on the baking pans too well, but I still like the delicate effect, the suggestion of a pattern underneath. Lemon, almond, cranberries and poppy seeds. Keep this combination in mind, it’s a real winner!

Molds used in this bake: Silikomart Water Drop and Silikomart Parfum. If you have information on programs for recovering silicone mold-addicts, please be so kind and leave me their number in a comment.  Thank you.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Iron (Uptake) Chef Challenge

TWO YEARS AGO: Thank you!

THREE YEARS AGO: Salmon Rillettes, a Classy Appetizer

FOUR YEARS AGO: Linzer Cookies

FIVE YEARS AGO: Baked Ricotta, Take Two

SIX YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Uncanned

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pork Ragu

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Friendly Kuri Squash

NINE YEARS AGO: Celery and Apple Salad

BLACK RICE WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Rice is hardly regarded as a special side dish, unless it gets fancied up as a risotto, joined to all sorts of goodies and a nice amount of butter. But, black rice, also known as Forbidden Rice, is another story. Dark, mysterious, with a heartier texture and more assertive flavor, it has the potential to make any meal special. I recently paired it with roasted cauliflower, and we were both very pleased with how it turned out.

BLACK RICE AND ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup black rice
1 + 3/4 cup water
salt to taste
1 head cauliflower
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (3 + 1)
juice of half lemon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Soak the rice in plenty of cold water for 45 minutes. Drain, and rinse well. Add to a sauce pan with the water seasoned with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer with a tight-fitting lid for about 35 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Leave in the pan undisturbed for five minutes before serving.

To roast the cauliflower, cut the florets in a way that they get a flat side. Mix them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place as a single layer in a baking sheet, covering tightly with aluminum foil. Roast at 450 F for 10 minutes, remove the foil, roast for 15 more minutes, flipping the pieces mid way through (or at least moving them around a little, so that new spots touch the bottom of the pan. Depending on how dark you like your cauliflower, let them roast longer.  Meanwhile, mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the lemon juice and spices. When the cauliflower is ready, drizzle the spice mixture, toss gently.

Serve the cauliflower over the hot, steamy rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Black rice is very nutritious, high in iron and fiber, its purple color coming from anthocyanins. It is actually the food item with the highest content of this anti-oxidant. Not too shabby, right? If you’ve never tried it, the taste is similar to brown rice, and the texture might resemble a bit wild rice. All that to tell you, Forbidden Rice is not just a pretty face. However, it can be a bit tricky to cook it perfectly. After having a few lousy experiences with it, I have two pieces of advice: soak it for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cooking, rinse well.  And use 1 + 3/4 cup of water per cup of rice, not more. Recipes that tell you to use 2:1 will most certainly leave you with a soupy concoction, in which the nice bite of this grain will be compromised.

The cauliflower. I got inspiration from a Fine Cooking article on steam-roasted vegetables. I simplified considerably their take on steam-roasted cauliflower with Indian spices, and shared this stream-lined version with you.

As full-blown omnivores, we paired this side dish with very juicy and very delicious chicken thighs, my default recipe which is on our table every couple of weeks.Yes, it is a lot of chicken, but we got two full dinners out of it, and one lunch for yours truly.

For such a simple preparation with humble ingredients, we were quite amazed by how much we enjoyed it. Once the weather warms up (and I turn into a cheerful human being again instead of The Resident Curmudgeon)  I intend to make black rice salad, because it seems to me it might be a real winner also.

ONE YEAR AGO: La Couronne Bordelaise

TWO YEARS AGO: A Special Birthday Dinner

THREE YEARS AGO: Duck Confit for a Special Occasion

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tuscan Grilled Chicken and Sausage Skewers

FIVE YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Pork Tenderloin & Apples

SIX YEARS AGO: Salmon Wellington

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

NINE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/steam-roasted-indian-spiced-cauliflower

PISTACHIO-CARAMEL AND APPLE MOUSSE CAKE

When writing a scientific article, every method used in the experiments needs a reference that gives credit to the scientist who came up with the technique. A little fun trivia for you: one of the most cited papers in our field is a method to analyze proteins on a gel, called sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). Every biochemist in the known universe uses that technique, and the original paper, published by Dr. Ulrich Laemmli in 1970 has been cited in literature more times than any other. If not yet bored and/or asleep, you can read about it here. And see what one of our own protein gels looks like with a click here. Each of the little dark bands is a unique protein, each vertical lane comes from a different bacterial culture. Bottom line is, giving credit where credit is due is always in a scientist’s mind. Perhaps for that reason I have a very tough time calling a recipe my own. Like the one I’m sharing today.


I am reasonably confident that no one has made this exact cake before, but can I really call it my own when I did not “invent” the sable cookie, I did not “invent” mousses or compotes, and definitely did not figure out myself how to make a shiny mirror glaze? You see my point. So, keep all that in mind when I claim it to be “from the Bewitching Kitchen.”

PISTACHIO-CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

equipment: Silikomart mold Universo or cake ring (18cm-7 inch diameter)

for the cookie base:
100 g all-purpose flour
50 g cold butter, cut in pieces
25 g granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold water
15g ground almonds
pinch of salt

for the apple-yuzu insert:
150g granny smith apples
15g yuzu juice (or substitute lemon juice)
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
18g granulated sugar
2g NH pectin

for the pistachio mousse:
160 g milk
20 g de pistachio paste (I used this one)
2 egg yolks
30 g granulated sugar
5 g gelatin
160 g heavy cream, lightly whipped

for the caramel mousse:
5 g gelatine
25 ml water
75 g sugar
26 g glucose or corn syrup
35 ml water
1/8 tsp salt
100 g  + 190 g heavy cream
1 egg yolk

for the mirror glaze:
15 g gelatin
55 g water
150 g glucose
150 g granulated sugar
75 g water
150 g white chocolate
100 g condensed milk
1/4 tsp titanium oxide
brown and caramel gel food color

Make the sablé cookie. Mix the flour, powdered sugar, ground almonds and salt. Add the cold butter, cut into cubes and work the mixture with your fingertips until it forms small crumbs. Add a lightly beaten yolk and almost the full tablespoon of ice water. Mix quickly until the dough is homogeneous. If needed, add the rest of the water. Form a flattened ball, wrap in plastic film and take to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment forming a circle, and cut it with a cake ring the exact size of the mold you will use to form the dessert (aim for a circle of about 18 cm). Refrigerate the dough for several hours before baking in a 400 F oven until golden. Cookie base can be made a couple of days in advance.

Make the pistachio mousse: bloom the gelatin in very cold water. In a bowl, add the yolk, the pistachio paste and the sugar. Stir well until you get a fluffy cream. In a pan, bring the milk to medium heat. When the temperature reaches about 160 F, remove the pan from the heat and pour, slowly, over the yolk mixture, stirring all the time. Return this whole mixture to the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly (about 180 F). Remove from heat and pass through a sieve. Add the bloomed gelatin, and stir well.  Let it cool to about 113 F and carefully add the whipped cream. Fold gently.

Make the apple-yuzu insert. Peel and dice the apples into 5 mm cubes. Combine the sugar and pectin in a small bowl and transfer to a saucepan. Add the yuzu or lemon juice to the saucepan and mix everything together. Turn the heat on to medium, add the apples and the vanilla. Cook very very gently with the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes or until the apples get translucent and start to melt down a bit. You will need to stir it often, so that the fruit does not burn at the bottom. Make sure the flame is really low for the whole cooking time. Freeze inside the mold you will use to assemble the dessert (you will un-mold it and save it for later). The apple compote needs to be made two full days before you need to assemble the dessert, as it needs to be frozen solid.

Make the caramel mousse.  In a small bowl, mix gelatine and water (25 ml) together and leave for 5 to 10 minutes to bloom. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, mix together sugar, glucose (or corn syrup), water (35 ml) and salt. Cook on medium high heat until you achieve a caramel syrup with deep amber color. Do not allow it to smoke or burn. Meanwhile, in another sauce pan, slightly the heat the 100 grams heavy cream, so when the caramel is ready you can pour the cream right away. Carefully pour it in and mix well until fully combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg yolk. Then add a third of the caramel to the beaten yolk and whisk quickly together to temper. Pour the mixture back into the caramel and stir well to combine. Continue stirring until it reaches 180-182 °F.  While still hot, add the bloomed gelatin, and mix into the caramel cream. Pass the cream through a fine mesh strainer, and set it aside to cool to 113 F.  When cooled, whisk the remaining heavy cream (190 g) into a stable, yet soft consistency (like yogurt). Then fold it in two additions into the caramel cream, until well combined.

Assemble the dessert. At the bottom of the Universo mold or cake ring wrapped in plastic film, pour the pistachio mousse. Place the frozen yuzu-apple insert in the center, pressing it lightly. The mousse will cover the insert, but not fill the mold completely. Place the mold in the freezer and proceed to make the second mousse.  Pour the caramel mousse in the mold covering it almost to the top, and carefully close it all with the sable cookie. Make sure it is all well-leveled. Freeze overnight. Un-mold the dessert right before glazing.

Make the mirror glaze. Bloom the gelatin by mixing it with 55 ml water in a small bowl. Reserve. In a small sauce pan, combine the second amount of water with sugar and glucose, bring to a boil, making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Place the white chocolate cut in small pieces in a large bowl. Pour the boiling sugar-glucose mixture over it, stir to combine, add the condensed milk and emulsify it all very well with an immersion blender. Add the titanium oxide. Divide the glaze in three amounts, leave one white. Color the other two with dark brown gel color and  caramel gel color, respectively.  Mix each one completely (preferably with immersion blender), but avoid incorporating any air in the mixture. Pass the mixtures through a sieve to burst any bubbles.  When the temperature cools to about 96 F pour the three colors together in a single container, a little bit of each, alternating the colors. Glaze the frozen cake forming any type of pattern you like. Keep the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.  Use a knife with a hot blade for better slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe was designed around its apple center. Remember my little dome cakes from last month? I had quite a few of those little inserts of apple compote in the freezer, so I brought them to room temperature and re-froze in the Universo mold to be part of this new dessert.  With that main component in mind, I searched for mousses that would complement it well. Not too long ago the amazing Miúda from the blog verdadedesabor made a pistachio mousse that left me dreaming. So I incorporated it.  To add another flavor component, I re-visited a caramel mousse I made in the past and loved. Apple, pistachios and caramel sounded pretty good together.  The sablé is my favorite type of cookie to use as a base because it is sturdy, tasty, and does not change shape during baking. I cut the cookie in the exact size of the mold, so it sealed it perfectly for freezing and made un-molding the dessert quite easy. Remember, measure twice and cut once.

The yuzu-apple insert. As I mentioned, I used leftover compote from a previous adventure. It is a bit tricky to judge how much compote you would need, so I halved the previous recipe and imagine it will be pretty close. All you need is to form a layer with a thickness of about 3/4 inch to place inside the mold.

The mirror glaze. Wanna see it in action? Click here for a little video of yours truly in a very daring mode. Normally glazes are poured in the center, in a circular motion, but I wanted to get a more linear effect on the surface, so I went back and forth, in a movement that is usually reserved for log-shaped or savarin-type cakes. The glaze was just a tad too cold, and I got into a slight hyperventilation mode once I noticed. The temperature of the three glazes was very close to perfection to start with, but when I poured them together in a single container, they cooled a bit more. Mirror glazes are delicate beings, and hitting the temperature correctly for three different components can be a bit tricky. I am going to bring my bread proofing box into play next time. Still, it turned out pretty close to what I had in mind. I should not be too greedy…

The cake turned out delicious, I think the only issue was the re-melting and re-freezing of the compote, it was slightly less firm than in the original mousse cakes made before. I am not sure if it would have been better to reduce it a little or even add a bit more pectin before re-freezing, but my advice is to freeze it on the exact shape you intend to use.


Slices were shared with our departmental colleagues on a cold but sunny Monday morning in December. Not very many colleagues were around that week, but the cake was gone in a couple of hours…

Mission Mondays with Sweetness accomplished!

 

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FREEKEH WITH ZUCCHINI AND ALMONDS

I tend to fall in love with things and get into an obsessive-compulsive mode about them. Right now freekeh is a good example. I’ve been making it regularly, so finding news ways to prepare it is always on my mind. If you have never tried this grain, I’d say it is a mixture of farro and barley. Hearty, tasty, and goes well with many main dishes. You can find two types of freekeh, whole grain and cracked. The main difference is the time it takes to cook them. If you go for whole grain, be prepared for 40 to 45 minutes cooking time, whereas the cracked form will be ready in 20, 25 minutes maximum. In our neck of the woods, it is easier to find cracked, so that’s what I normally go for.

FREEKEH WITH ZUCCHINI AND ALMONDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch pieces
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 stalk celery, finely diced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup cracked freekeh
2 cups water
toasted slivered almonds to taste
fresh dill to taste
whole yogurt for serving (optional)

Sautee the zucchini. On a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add the zucchini pieces seasoned with salt and pepper and allow it to get golden brown before moving the pieces around. When it’s tender and fragrant, squeeze a little lemon juice and reserve.

Cook the freekeh. In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon (or a bit less) olive oil, add the celery seasoned with salt and pepper, and saute until fragrant. Add the freekeh, cook a minute or two, then add the water. Cover the pan and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Let it sit in the pan for five minutes with the heat off.

Add the freekeh to the skillet with the zucchini, warm everything together briefly, add toasted almonds, and fresh dill. Serve immediately with whole milk yogurt on the side, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I realize that I am asking you to use one large skillet and one sauce pan to make this recipe. In theory, you could saute the zucchini in the sauce pan, remove it, and proceed to cook the celery and freekeh in the same pan. However, I prefer a very large surface to get the zucchini perfectly cooked. And in case you don’t know, I love doing dishes, so one more pan to wash has never been a problem for me. I know… crazy, right?

This turned out very good, and almost a complete meal, actually. We enjoyed it with roast chicken, but next day my lunch was a nice serving of freekeh with a fried egg on top. Maybe not the most gorgeous picture in the blogosphere, but trust me, it was tasty…

If you never cooked freekeh, I urge you to give it a try. It is a nice alternative to rice, and you can also enjoy it cold in salads, or as addition to soups. Pretty versatile item.

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