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Angeline’s Raisin Pecan Pie


I’ve been having fun reading through Angela Shelf Medearis’ cookbook, “The Kitchen Diva Cooks” (Lake Isle Press, $16.95).

In her introduction, the Austin TV personality writes that her love of food started with her mother Angeline’s Raisin Pecan Pie: “She created the recipe by experimenting with some of my father Howard’s favorite ingredients, raisins and pecans, and it quickly became one of the highlights of our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. She told us the first pie was so good she ate the whole thing by herself. She then had to make another before my father came home from work!”

Medearis goes on to say, “I started writing cookbooks because of my family’s desire to document my mother’s recipes. After you taste this wonderful pie, you’ll understand why we wanted to preserve this delicious part of our family history.”

Who knows? You may like it so much it becomes a part of your family history, too.

Angeline’s Raisin Pecan Pie

1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan halves
1 unbaked (9-inch) pie shell

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the raisins in a bowl of warm water to plump, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter with an electric hand mixer until fluffy. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and combine well. Using a spoon, mix in the nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Scrape down the bowl. Fold in the raisins and pecans.

Scrape the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake until golden brown and set, 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking occasionally to make sure it doesn’t overcook. If the crust is browning too quickly, make a foil collar to protect it. The pie should be set, except for a soft center a little larger than a quarter. Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

From “The Kitchen Diva Cooks” by Angela Shelf Medearis

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Use Your Favorite Seasonal Fruit in This Delicious Clafouti


Cherries or any summer fruit can be used in this clafouti.

“Clafouti is right up there with frangipane among fun-to-say dessert words,” says chef Michel Richard in “Sweet Magic” (HarperCollins, $27.50). “It seems like a name for a circus performer — Cherry Clafouti and his Amazing Acrobats.”

This summertime favorite is traditionally made with the stones left inside the cherries, he says. “Just like cooking meat on the bone, cooking cherries with their pits lends a magical flavor and texture boost, even if it is a bit more work on your plate.” Yet most Americans don’t like seeds, so the recipe has been modified.

“If you cannot find good cherries, try using whatever other fruits are in season and perfectly ripe: plums, peaches, apricots, blueberries or blackberries, Richard says.

And don’t stress about the recipe. “No matter what you do, it is hard to mess up,” he says. “I have made this batter with half apple juice and half nonfat milk. I have added vanilla, cinnamon, chopped almonds, so please experiment.”

Cherry Clafouti

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
3 eggs
4 cups cherries, destemmed, washed and dried

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Start the batter by placing the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Stir them with a whisk to incorporate the ingredients and break up any lumps that might be in the flour. Pour the milk into the dry ingredients at once with one hand while whisking quickly with the other hand to avoid lumps. If a few remain, strain the batter. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then beat them into the batter until smooth. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Near the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and position a rack in the middle.

Place the cherries in the bottom of a 10-inch round glass or ceramic pie plate. Choose a dish that looks nice, as this will be the serving dish. Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for 1 hour, until the edges are set but the center is still slightly jiggly.

Meanwhile, whip the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, adding the sugar little by little until firm. Transfer to a clean bowl and refrigerate.

Spoon the clafouti into dishes while still warm and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From “Sweet Magic” by Michel Richard

 

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Guava Ice Cream Is a Rich Treat


Guava Ice Cream

Guava not only adds flavor to this refreshing ice cream, it also perfumes it with its floral aroma.

Guava Ice Cream

6 guavas, peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kirsch or raspberry liqueur

Purée the guavas in a blender. Heat the cream (do not let it boil) and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow it to cool, then stir it into the guava purée with the kirsh. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to freeze. If you do not have a machine, pour the mixture into a suitable container and put it into the freezer for at least 4 hours. After the first 30 minutes, take it out and whisk it to break up the ice crystals, then return to the freezer. Whisk twice more at half-hourly intervals, then leave the ice cream in the freezer to firm up.

Makes about 1 quart.

From “A Passion for Fruit” by Lorenza De’Medici

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Ask a Foodie: Where’s the Best Tres Leches Cake?


The tres leches cake at Aldaco's in Stone Oak.

Q. My husband’s birthday is coming up and he loves tres leches cake. Who do you think makes the best in town? Thank you!

— A.C.

A. Tres leches cake was introduced to San Antonio largely through the efforts of Blanca Aldaco. Since then, you can find it at numerous places across town, and many of the versions are fine. But Aldaco still serves the best to be had.

The name tres leches refers to the three milks that are used to keep the cake moist. The lineup can vary, but it is usually sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.

The Mother's Day tres leches cake.

What Aldaco does with this cake at her restaurant in Stone Oak, 20079 Stone Oak Parkway, is always rich and delicious.

She also varies the flavors she offers, depending on the season. The current lineup includes chocolate and Kahlúa in addition to the regular style

Call 210-494-0561.

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A Creamy Dessert That’ll Leave You Weak in the Knees


Panna cotta, which is Italian for “cooked cream,” is one of those desserts that cooks either get so right you want to play kiss the chef or so wrong that you want to deliver a swift kick.

There is no in-between. I’ve had versions ruined with the likes of grana padano cheese, rosemary and pistachios, which destroyed both texture and flavor. I’ve also ruined one or two myself by using too much gelatin. The end result was more like Cream Jell-O rather than a dessert that can be a form of culinary seduction.

I was surprised to discover just how easy Thomas Keller’s version was in “Ad Hoc at Home.” The celebrated chef, who also owns the French Laundry, didn’t dress his panna cotta up, except by using sour cream, buttermilk and crème fraîche to give it a tangy taste.

His version doesn’t really “cook” too much, which is fine. Just don’t expect to up-end this version onto a serving plate. It’s better to use a martini glass or a special bowl for each serving.

As Keller says, “Panna cotta can be served plain or enhanced with a compote or a sauce.” And I’ve included my own at the end.

Panna Cotta

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered, unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon water
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk or 1/4 cup buttermilk and 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

Put the gelatin in a small cup and add the water. Let stand for about 5 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla and sugar in a medium bowl.

Spoon about 1/2 cup of the mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring, just to warm. Add the softened gelatin, stirring to dissolve. Rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers; it should not feel gritty. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes; then stir the gelatin mixture into the sour cream mixture.

Whip the crème fraîche in a mixer until it thickens and holds a shape. Fold in the sour cream mixture, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. Spoon into six 4- to 5-ounce martini glasses, ramekins or bowls. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 2 days.

Top with your favorite sauce. For one variation, see below.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from “Ad Hoc at Home” by Thomas Keller

Blueberry Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet wine, red or white
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
About 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, but don’t let it burn. Add white and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then reduce by half. Add blueberries, a generous squeeze of juice from a lemon, a pinch of salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

From John Griffin

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Save Some Time: Get Desserts Ready Ahead of Time


PumpkinPie

What happened to the whipped cream?

Deciding what to serve for Thanksgiving dessert can be fraught with as many emotional landmines as preparing the menu for the rest of the meal.

Some people only want pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Others want anything but.

But most everyone agrees on one thing: Dessert is as important as the turkey and all the trimmings.

I always enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie with whipped cream on top (OK, I can enjoy almost anything with whipped cream on top, but that’s another story). I also enjoy trying something new, yet with respect to tradition. So, this year, I’m going to try an Apple-Brandy Tart from Plaza Club chef Dan Lewis’ cookbook, “Discover Ironstone Vineyards.” And I’ll hope that one of the other guests brings along the pumpkin pie.

Cheesecake1

Diana Barrios Treviño's Family Favorite Cheesecake

Many of the desserts you’ll find make great use of the season’s bounty: apples, pumpkin, pecans. But the format can be different, such as Pumpkin-Spice Layer Cake.

Or the dish can something you love year-round, such as cheesecake, which has become a tradition in Diana Barrios Treviño’s family.

Whatever you try, remember that dessert, though it comes at the end of the meal, can usually be made the day before. So, save yourself some time and make your favorite pie or a whole array of desserts the day before. You’ll be glad to have one less thing to worry about.

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Amaretto-Peach Tiramisu


Amaretto-Peach TiramisuWe may not have had any peaches from the Hill Country this year, but the few freestones I’ve had from my neighborhood H-E-B and the farmers markets have been juicy yet firm. Even better, they have been full of flavor.

The better the peach, the better this dessert is.

In recent years, a growing number of chefs have played with the classic Italian tiramisu recipe, adding fruit and complementary liqueurs while subtracting the cocoa powder and the espresso. This version uses amaretto in both the creamy mascarpone mixture and the syrup. It’s a little sweeter, but the lively combination of fresh peaches and liqueur makes all the difference. (Peach brandy, Frangelico and cherry-flavored kirshwasser are other liqueurs that could be used to good effect.)

I served this at a recent Bible study, and by the end of the evening, only a spoonful was left.

Make sure you make this dish a day in advance to allow the flavors a chance to coalesce.

Amaretto Peach Tiramisu

1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar or agave nectar, divided use
6-7 large peaches, peeled and cut into slices
6 tablespoons amaretto, divided use, or more, to taste
3 eggs, separated
1 pound mascarpone, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
36-40 ladyfingers
2 ounces toasted almonds
Cinnamon, for garnish, optional

Heat water and 1/4 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Add peaches and bring back to a boil. If you want the peaches firm, cook for only 1 minute or so. If you want the peaches really soft, cook for at least 5 minutes or until desired texture is reached. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons amaretto, or more to taste. Strain the fruit, reserving the syrup.

Whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until streaks form. Slowly add mascarpone and the remaining 3 tablespoons amaretto, stirring until all lumps disappear. In a separate bowl,  beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Slowly fold the stiff egg whites into the yolk mixture.

Dip half of the ladyfingers in the syrup and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Cover with half of the peaches. Top with a layer of the mascarpone mixture. Add another layer of syrup-dipped ladyfingers.  Add remaining peaches, then cover fully with the remaining mascarpone. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, top with toasted almonds and a dusting of cinnamon, if using.

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