Friday, September 17, 2010

Ground Cherry Flognarde

In the midst of everyday life and assignments, I'm hungry for something sweet and quick.  My snack supply from Indonesia has reached the level of near-bottom, and I'm actually quite sad to see those goodies are gone.  If only they could magically reappear in the box, I'll be happier.

Yesterday I brought home a bag-full of ground cherry.  The first time I saw the fruits, I thought of it as tomatillos, but after researching through the Internet, this was ground cherry or from the family of Physalis.  The fruit has husk like tomatillo and the flavor is similar to tomato with a hint of pineapple.  The plant is also a relative of tomato plant.  Nobody knew what to do with them at work, so I volunteered to bring home some and intended to make use of it.

Okay, so I knew all of those info, but what would I do with the fruits?  I finally chose clafoutis as the means and almonds for the texture and added flavor.  I took a liking to Simply Recipe's Cherry Clafoutis but I decreased the amount of the sugar used because 1 cup was simply too sweet for my taste.  Half cup of whipping cream replaced half of the milk used to make the dish creamier.  I divided the batter to two 8-inch round cake pan because I wanted to share it with my co-workers.  I wanted them so taste the fruits from a different perspective.  So yeah, the flognarde looked a little thin in the photos.  And wording aside, flognarde is a egg-custard dessert using similar technique and ingredients as clafoutis but using different fruits other than cherries.  So even though I'm using ground cherry, it's technically not real cherry ;)

The result?  It ranks high in the pleasure palate, leaving behind a luxurious taste of creamy custard along with fruity explosion of ground cherries in the mouth.

Ground Cherry Flognarde

Serves 6

2 cups fresh ground cherry, husks removed

2 tablespoons slivered almonds

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup whipping cream

3/4 teaspoon of almond extract

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour one 9x9-inch or two 8-inch round baking dish. Scatter the ground cherries and slivered almonds in the dish.

Whisk the eggs, sugars, salt, and flour together until smooth.

Add the milk, whipping cream, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The finished batter will jiggle slightly when it's pull out of the oven which is normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The flognarde will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the flognarde with powdered sugar if desired.

Source:  adapted from Simply Recipe's Cherry Clafoutis

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spinach Böreks

For a long time I'm curious of how böreks taste like because I have never eaten one before.  I imagine it to be crispy on the outside and creamy and tangy from feta cheese.  Layer upon layer of crispy phyllo enveloping lightly sauteed spinach and feta cheese.  This doesn't mean I know how to make correct böreks shape, but this one that I made was delicious.  I've always loved Mediterranean flavor and I thought this goes well with an improvised and quick chickpea salad.  A while ago I tasted chickpea salad from Food Front in Hillsdale that I thought was fantastic.  They put all the things that I love in salad in one unity.  I could eat salad like that forever :)

The dressing for the chickpea salad is nothing other than balsamic vinegar/red wine vinegar, lemon juice, a bit of minced garlic, extra-virgin olive oil,  and salt and pepper.  Add chickpeas, feta cheese, chopped red onion, spinach, chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley, and chopped artichoke hearts.  Blend everything together and that's it.  There's countless recipes to make salad like this and you can add or omit ingredients as you like.

This particular böreks recipe is taken from Anissa Helou's book, Savory Baking from the Mediterranean.  A book that's filled with various recipes from countries in the region, from pizza, flatbreads, breads, pies, tarts, and pastries.  Though it lacks color photos, I trust Anissa Helou as she's the experts on the Mediterranean and Middle East cuisines.

Lastly, this meal is fit to be in Meatless Monday movement that's going on right now. I've done countless "meatless" days throughout the week for a long time already, so it's not something that's hard to participate.

Spinach Böreks (Ispanakli Tepsi Böregi)

Serves 4

For the filling:

1 pound fresh spinach

1 tablespoon exra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

2 medium eggs

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Fine kosher salt or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Other ingredients:

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the pie plate

1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk

1 medium egg

12 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed if frozen

Make the filling: Wash and drain the spinach and put it in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until just wilted.  Drain and cool.  Then squeeze the spinach by hand until it is very dry.  Separate the leaves and set aside.

Put the olive oil, butter, and onions in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly golden.  Add the spinach and cook for another minute or two.  Remove the heat and stir  in the 2 eggs and the feta.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, return to the heat, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the eggs are very softly scrambled.  Set the filling aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix the melted butter with the milk and 1 egg in a small bowl.  Grease a 9-inch round and 1-inch deep pie plate with a little melted butter.

Place 1 sheet of phyllo across the pie plate, leaving half the sheet hanging over the edge.  Keep the remaining sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap or kitchen towel.  Brush the portion of the first sheet that is in the pie plate with milk mixture and fold the overhanging half over it; if any part of the sheet still hangs over the edge, either leave it there or trim it.  Brush again with the milk mixture.  Repeat the process with 4 more sheets of phyllo.

Spread the filling over the pastry.  Cover with the remaining phyllo sheets, brushing each layer with milk mixture and folding the overhangs over.  Pour any remaining milk mixture over the top and cut the pie, all the way to the bottom, into 4 squares.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden all over.  Serve hot or warm.

Source: Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two great news

Today is unbelievably exciting.  Two great news in a day is certainly a good reason to celebrate, though I haven't a slightest idea where and how I will celebrate :)  The above photo of fig and mascarpone represents how "calm" my heart right now.

The first news is quite predictable.  The fall issue of Zupan's magazine, Indulge, is out in Zupan's stores and online today.  What surprised me was that they put my pear-ginger charlotte on the cover of the magazine.  As soon as I woke up, I went online, and logged on Zupan's website.  I gasped once I saw the photo; editor didn't tell me beforehand :)  But I am relieved that the photo looks great as the cover and looking inside the magazine, I'm very pleased of the contents.  Really solid editorial theme and photos throughout the issue.   Please visit Indulge online or go to Zupan's store for the hard copy, you'll find inspiring fall season recipes.

The second news is a shocker.  Truly, I didn't expect this to come into my inbox in the afternoon.  I think my heart skipped a beat when I read the email :)  Foodista chose my Green Tea-Chocolate Steamed Cupcakes to be in their The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook!  Though honestly, before the email reached me, I kept checking Foodista's website, trying to found out if they've announced the 100 winners yet.  Call me vain, but I'm so happy beyond belief, giddy like a 16-year old getting her new driver's license.   I'm thankful to Sheri Wetherell who's been patient with me and by emailing me back and forth in regards to the instructions.  The book will be out in October 19, 2010 and it can be pre-order through Amazon by clicking here.  Now, I can't wait till October 19, it's still a month and a half away!