Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shrove Tuesday! -- Semla Buns

Back at home, my family celebrated the day-before-Lent as Shrove Tuesday. Also known as "Pancake Day," this provides a way for families to use up indulgent ingredients like cream, eggs, and butter. I hope to make some of these later this week (during Lent-- oops!). This recipe is from Favorite Swedish Recipes, edited by Selma Wifstrand.

Semlor-- Shrove Tuesday Buns

3 c flour
1/2 c lukewarm cream
1/2 c lukewarm water
1/2 c butter
1 yeast cake
4 T sugar
beaten egg

1/2 c blanched almonds, ground
2-3 blanched bitter almonds, ground
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 c cream, whipped

Make dough: dissolve yeast cakes in 1/2 c milk. Mix remaining milk, sugar, salt, butter, and cardamom seeds and small amount of flour, beat smooth. Add yeast and remaining flour, beating with wooden spoon until smooth and firm. Sprinkle dough with small amount of flour, cover with clean towel and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Turn onto lightly floured baking board and knead until smooth.

Shape dough into 12 balls. Arrange side by side on well-buttered baking sheet, cover with towel, and allow to rise. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 425 F until brown. Cool on towel.

Mix ground almonds, sugar, egg white, and a little water; work until smooth. Cut tops off buns, spread with paste, and add a tablespoon of whipped cream. Replace tops. Dust with powdered sugar.

Serve as dessert in individual dishes with hot milk, sugar, and cinnamon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Stovetop Rice Pudding with Cherries

I think that this pudding will become part of my standard repertoire. It is exceedingly versatile, being uniquely comforting whether hot, room temperature, or cold. It is so soothing on a cold night. I imagine it will be equally soothing, chilled, on a hot summer's night. This is a smooth, rich pudding, and the cherries are a nice contrast. It's also a very quick recipe, and perfect for entertaining. It's one of those things that will get you a lot of love when you make it-- it joins souls. The recipe is extensively modified from a recipe from Bon Appetit, April 1997.

Stovetop Rice Pudding with Cherries

4 c plus 1 T whole milk
1/2 c arborio rice
1/2 c sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t cardamom
1/4 t dried Valencia orange peel

1 1/2 t cornstarch
3 large eggs
3/4 c dried tart cherries
2 oz white chocolate
2 t vanilla extract
1 t lemon juice

Combine 4 c milk, rice, sugar, and spices (cinnamon through orange peel) in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 to 25 minutes. Start checking tenderness at about 15 minutes-- you don't want the rice to turn to mush.

Whisk cornstarch and 1 T milk in large bowl. Add eggs; whisk. Whisk in hot rice mixture and return to saucepan. Add cherries; stir over low or medium heat just until mixture comes to a boil. Mix in white chocolate, vanilla, and lemon juice, till chocolate is melted. Serve warm or refrigerate under plastic wrap.

Mardi Gras: Jambalaya!

For a Relief Society cooking group today, I made jambalaya and rice pudding. I was a bit worried-- ok, a lot worried-- because I hadn't ever made either and I was playing with the recipes. Foolish! But I think I was blessed for hosting, because both turned out delightfully well. I will give you the recipes as I made them.
This jambalaya recipe is adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, but it's really quite different. Even with the intentional changes that I made, I chopped things rather large and roughly and was a little bit loose with the timing of things. I think it's rather robust-- the thing turned out absolutely ideally.
This makes a very spicy dish. I like spicy, and yes, this really is spicy. Serve with milk, a nice french bread, and a leafy green salad.


whole bay leaves
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t white pepper
1 t dried thyme leaves
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t rubbed sage

2 T butter
1/2 pound chopped andouille sausage (I cut disks in quarters), about 2 cups
3/4 lb boneless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces, about 2 cups (I used thigh meat)
1 T minced garlic
1 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped green bell peppers
1/2 c canned tomato sauce
1 c chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 c uncooked converted rice

Melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add sausage and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken and continue cooking until chicken is brown, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, and scraping pan bottom well if it's not nonstick. Stir in seasonings (bay leaf through sage), garlic, and 1/2 c each of the onions, celery, and bell peppers. Cook until vegetables start to get tender, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring. Stir in tomato sauce and cook about 1 minute, stirring often. Stir in the remaining 1/2 c each of the onions, celery, and bell peppers and the tomatoes. Remove from heat. Stir in the broth and rice, mixing well. Transfer mixture to an ungreased 8x8-inch baking pan (must not be unusually shallow). Bake uncoverd in a 350 F oven until rice is tender but still a bit cruncy, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Stir well and cool a bit before eating.