Sephardic Orange Juice Flan

Sephardic Orange Juice Flan

This sweet dessert is as scrumptious made with orange juice as it is when made with milk. With so many varieties of oranges available at markets today, pick a kind that is less sweet.

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 eggs

4 or five oranges

In a suacepan, melt half a cup of the sugar with two tablespoons water. Don't stir, but let melt until golden and caramelized. Don't overdo. If you overcook it, just try another batch.

Pour into custard cups, a flan dish, or ramekins.

Boil some water.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grate the zest from two of the oranges and squeeze them all to make one cup of fresh juice.

Beat the eggs, sugar, zest, and juice.  

Pour over the sugar into whatever vessel you are using.

Place the vessels in a baking dish.

Pour the boiling water halfway up the side of the vessel.

Cover with foil and bake an hour or a little less for individual cups. When done, a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

Remove from water, cover, and cool in fridge.

For the holiday run a knife around the sides of the vessel and turn over onto a pretty platter or individual serving plates. Garnish with orange or tangerine segments and pour over the custard any extra caramel.

For every day you can just eat the dessert out of the ramekins. This is wonderful with strong, black coffee or tea.

Jane Eyre's Welsh Rabbit

Poor little Jane Eyre didn't get much good to eat, but she is able to enjoy some Welsh Rabbit. Rabbit is not rabbit, but Rarebit. Kids have endless fun pretending to confuse the issue. 

This makes a nice afternoon snack, a lunch with a salad, or as a soup accompaniment. For kids use the milk and omit the cayenne. For adults use the booze and add a dash of sass with the cayenne.  Use two saucepans if making at the same time. 

Welsh Rabbit

4 teaspoons milk or beer or stout

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 ounces butter

2 teaspoons dry English mustard

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

a pinch of cayenne

12 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 slices of white bread, grilled until golden on one side or toasted

Combine everything, but the cheese and bread, in a saucepan.

Blend the ingredients and heat.

Add the cheese until melted.

Spread on the bread on the white side or either side if toasted.

Grill 2 to 3 minutes until bubbly. 

This tastes great with the beer you used in preparation, or sweet or dry apple cider.

Chouquettes from "Gourmet Rhapsody"

Chouquettes. Amen. I die. 

Muriel Barbery of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" fame also wrote this story of a dying food critic who recalls the taste sensations of his life. Although the critic is a thoroughly unpleasant person, the descriptions of the food he has enjoyed are unsurpassed. Now at his death bed, he wants to taste the ultimate delight one last time. Surprisingly, for him, this turns out to be none other than the simple childhood favorite chouquettes (mini cream puffs). And he prefers supermarket bought chouquettes at that. I'd say a chocolate chip cookie or a custard creme biscuit would approximate the nostalgic place chouquettes have in the hearts of the French for North Americans and Britons.  

1 cup of water

4 tablespoons or 1/2 stick of butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

4 large eggs

Add the water, salt, and butter to a saucepan.

Bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat and add the flour.

Mix well.

Return to low heat and stir for five or six minutes until the dough is cohesive and not sticky to the touch.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least five minutes. 

Transfer to a bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time and blend thoroughly after each addition. 

Coat cookies sheets with butter and flour or parchment.

You can fill a pastry bag and squeeze out about half an eggs size or you can simply scoop out the same size portions with a spoon.

Brush with an egg wash made of one beaten egg.

Let sit for twenty minutes while preheating oven to 375.

Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake for thirty five minutes. 

Shut off the oven, open the door and let sit for an additional hour. 

These can also be filled with flavoured sweetened whipped cream, custard or pudding, jam, or ice cream and doused with chocolate, caramel, or fruit sauce. 

Doesnt he look tasty?

April Fool!

Cooking with Fernet Branca, by James Hamilton-Paterson, presents some of the most disgustingly awful food you'll ever imagine. Like a popular foodie memoir, but with a cranky central character, it's a very funny book.  Would you care for some chocolate mussels, a sweet--not savoury --fish pie, or badger Wellington? Nor would I.  And Fernet Branca, bitter as it is, would make a terrible sauce. Bitter or not, it's very popular these days in some San Francisco cocktails. It's supposed to aid digestion which might be a great help after a few bites of Badger Wellington. 

This year we honour two famous women of cinema. Mary Pickford was an enormously important silent film actress, academy award winner, and co-founder of United Artists studio. And Shirley Temple was the first kid super star.

The Mary Pickford cocktail is light, pretty, and yummy. It's also perfect for brunch or as a summer punch.

Mary Pickford

2 ounces light rum

2 ounces pineapple juice

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon grenadine

A dribble of maraschino cherry juice

Combine and shake over ice. 

As a child, the highlight of a boring old grown up dinner at a restaurant was sitting in the cocktail lounge and ordering a Shirley Temple. (Family ordered Scotch and Soda, Vodka Martini, and Whisky Sour). 7 Up or Ginger ale with a splash of grenadine made a perfect child's cocktail. The same drink was called a Roy Rogers if a little boy ordered it.

Sometimes my mother faked it at home by pouring maraschino cherry juice into 7 Up and topping that with a cherry of course.

Maraschino cherries fell totally out of favor for their practically florescent red color and questionable dye used to make them that color. Also some "cherries" in fruit cocktail and hand pies were actually grapes. I was delighted to become reacquainted with a bubbly Shirley Temple topped with a plump Morello Cherry and at the Café Rouge in Berkeley.

Shirley Temple or Roy Rogers

Ginger ale, 7-Up, Sprite, or Coca Cola

Maraschino cherry juice or grenadine to colour

Maraschino or morello cherry

Serve in a tall glass with ice and a straw.

Kasha and cabbage version depicted

This scrumptious dish was originally a rustic Russian creation. I learned to make it on a Soviet liner travelling from Canada to France. Escoffier adapted a more delicate version that delighted Belle-Epoque Europeans.  A probable hit at Downton Abbey it would have utilized salmon caught at the estate,. The Earl and his Countess may have recalled it at dinner tables in their younger years. I make coulibiac both ways: the Russian using kasha and cabbage and the "elegant" with spinach and rice.

2 sheets puff paste ( it can also to be made with brioche dough or filo... be my guest)

1 egg yolk mixed with a dash of milk

3 cups of baby spinach leaves 

2 pounds side of salmon, boned and skinned 

2 hard boiled eggs, chopped or sliced

2 thinly sliced shallots

Salt and pepper

Fresh dill

Make the rice according to directions using fish fume or chicken broth. 

Season with salt, pepper, dill, and butter. 

Roll out the dough into two equal rectangles.

Spread lightly with egg wash.

Layer one rectangle with spinach leaves, shallots, and cooked rice.

Place the salmon on top.

Layer with boiled eggs.

Season with dill, salt, and pepper.

Cover with puff pastry. 

Seal the edges and cut off extra or cut into a fish shape.

Cut  a few 2 inch slits in the top.

Brush with remaining egg wash. 

Cook at 350 for thirty to forty minutes until golden.

Remove and let rest for ten minutes. 

Use a serrated knife to slice. 

Serve with cucumber salad tossed in a sour cream-dill-apple or Champagne vinegar sauce.

Serve with a Chardonnay or a White Bordeaux